A Surprise Serenade

For the last few months I have sorely neglected my blog. On the one hand, knowing that this post is my 100th post made me feel like it had to be something extra special, and on the other hand, I have been so busy with work that the thought of spending my free time in front of the computer has been anything but appealing.

But finally, I have found the will to write my 100th post of the Bright Red Backpack and there is no better topic than the romanticism of the latin culture!

On an oridnary Monday night, Rodrigo came home from buying bread at the corner shop. a little breathless and acting strangely. I asked him if everything was ok, to which he replied “todo bien” (everything is fine). He then asked me to get my camera, which although it seemed odd, I did. He then told me to go the living room window to look out and see a surprise…



Below in the patio of our building were three young men from a university “tuna” which is a traditional university student band originating from the 12th Century. They proceded to serenade me with the most romantic spanish music you can imagine. For any Anglo-Saxon girl, this is something out of the ordinary. Who wouldn’t find a song which talks about how even if the rainbow lost its beauty and the flowers lost their perfume and color, it wouldn’t be as sad as being left without your love, super romantic! OK, and a little bit cheesy too.


The three musicians outside my window

So let me tell you a bit about the tradition of the Tuna, which goes back more than 8 centuries in Spain. It began as a brotherhood of university students who were passionate about music (romantic music), nightlife and travelling, but based on their poor economic means, they couldn’t afford to pay for their studies. So by making use of their musical skills, they would travel around inns and taverns playing and singing for donations or food.

Among the most common instruments in the Tuna are the guitar, the bandurria (an instrument similar to the mandolin) and the tambourine. Even today, the members of the Tuna still wear the tradition waistcoats, breeches (basically very puffed shorts) and tights. An important accessory is the v-shaped cloth that by virtue of its specific colour is particular to a University and includes the shield of the institution.


After serenading me with three beautiful songs, we invited them up to our apartment as I was keen to hear their story and find out more about the tradition.

The picture above shows their costumes and the cloths which represent their universities (Santo Tomas and Universidad Catolica de Temuco). Sadly I am terrible with names and although they told me, I can’t remember their names. If any of them ever read this post, I hope they write to me so that I can make this story more personal.

Although times have changed and the students who participate in Tunas today don’t necessarily do it for economic reasons. the tradition continues pretty much unchanged over the centuries. For example, Tunas are still only composed of males.


Since the patio of my building is visible from the street, many people walking past stopped and listened to the songs and took their own photos. It was great to see how the Tuna made everyone stop for a minute, smile and enjoy the music!

I have spent the whole day humming one of the tunes the Tuna played. It was such a nice surprise and something really special. Gracias Rodrigo, te amo mucho!


And thank you to the Tuna for making a random Monday night just a little bit different. If anyone wants to hire them for events etc, see their website http://www.tunaust.cl. You won’t regret it!

So that is my 100th post of my blog which I started in 2010 when I started this adventure in South America. So much has happened and so much has changed over this time. But just as this post shows, there is always something new and special to still explore in Chile.

Here’s looking to writing my 200th post in the future and to enjoying all that happens in my life between now and then…

Felices Fiestas Patrias a todos mis amigos chilenos y chilenas!!!

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4 Responses to A Surprise Serenade

  1. Esme Solomons says:

    Thank you Ingrid… your blog is a beautiful description of how wonderful things happen when you least expect them – serendipity indeed
    ! I await blogs up to the 200dth, Love, Esme

    • ingridckoch says:

      Thanks Esme for always writing such lovely comments. It is so nice to know that people enjoy reading about my life here in Chile! I have some exciting travels happening in the next few months, so I hope to find all the energy necessary to write my adventures down.

  2. Fantastic! What an awesome surprise! 🙂
    Now, where’s that ring? mmmmmm?

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