CARAHUE, Chile – Thousands of people gathered in Chile’s La Araucanía region on Monday to witness a solar eclipse, rejoicing in the rare experience even though visibility was limited due to the cloudy skies. The skies were clear in northern Argentina’s Patagonia, where people also watched the moon briefly block the sun and plunge the day into darkness.
Many people wore masks to curb the spread of COVID-19, although they congregate in parts of Pucón and other areas of La Araucanía, 700 kilometers south of Santiago, the Chilean capital.
“Was it worth the two minutes ,? said witness Diego Fuentes, who traveled south with his family to see the eclipse.
“I liked it a lot and it was good that there were clouds because we could see it a bit without glasses,” said Catalina Morales, a girl who watched the eclipse with her father, Cristián. Morales. He described it as “spectacular, a unique experience”.
Thousands of people jumped up and screamed happily in the drizzle when the sun was completely covered by the moon, then silence descended for a few moments. The people again screamed and howled in excitement when the sun came out again.
During the brief period of darkness, only cell phone lights were visible.
Around 500,000 indigenous people of the Mapuche ethnic group live in La Araucanía. They traditionally believe that the eclipse signals the sun’s momentary death after a fight with the moon and leads to negative fallout.
Diego Ancalao, a member of a Mapuche community and head of an indigenous foundation that promotes development, noted that a total solar eclipse in July 2019 was followed by civil unrest in Chile and then the coronavirus pandemic.
Experts said the solar eclipse was partly visible in several other Latin American countries as well as parts of Africa and areas of the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. The next total solar eclipse in Chile is expected to occur in 28 years. Another is expected to be visible in Antarctica by the end of 2021.
Vergara reported from Santiago, Chile. AP journalist Mauricio Cuevas contributed from Pucón, Chile.