One of the world events that the puppeteers are set every four years, in addition to the festivals held regularly in almost every city in the world, the Charleville being the most renowned, is the UNIMA World Congress, which this year comes to his 21th edition. For the first time held in an Asian country , China took the lead proposing Chengdu, a city little known but of crucial importance, since it is the logistic, tourist and industrial center most relevant to inland China. Capital of Sichuan Province in southwest China, has an urban population of about 14 million people, half located in the municipality of Chengdu itself and the rest in its metropolitan area.
One can’t but be impressed on making one’s way into the centre of this stunning city, whose landmark buildings are no less remarkable than those in the the large coastal cities on the Pacific. Chengdu is a city that does not seem to suffer from paralysing traffic jams, – at least as far as we could see in the centre – and all its motorcycles have electric motors. This is an important fact, in my view, since the thousands of bicycles that used to occupy the streets in China, have today been superseded, at least in Chengdu, by many cars, and myriad motorcycles which circulate in silence and without pumping out exhaust fumes. Too bad that the measure has not been extended to cars; that would really be a significant way of anticipating the future. But seeing the sea of motorcycles travelling along the tarmac in silence and without fumes, made a very strong impression on us..
Jacques Trudeau, Unima General Secretary, and Ana María Allendes, from Chile
The reception centre for the puppeteers involved in the Congress or the Festival is located in the sumptuous Hotel Jinjiang. A large table surrounded by smiles welcomes the new arrival, who is immediately attended by young volunteers ready to orient you and give you your programme, instructions and accreditation. In the same hotel, in the majestic dining room where everything is nice except the price of tea – which is more expensive than a taxi-ride from the airport to the city centre -, lunch and dinner are provided with a generous buffet full of nice touches and tasty delicacies.
Little by little, the conference members are arriving from all over the world, and the hotel foyer has become a wonderful Babel where languages from all over the world are spoken. English, French and Spanish are those which are heard most, of course; three small islands in the middle of the Chinese linguistic sea that surrounds and baffles us.
Tomorrow will be the Opening Ceremony to be held outdoors, in the Park called the International Intangible Cultural Heritage. A surprise that the festival has in store for us. In the afternoon, will be presented an spectacular exhibition of traditional Chinese shadow puppets in the same place. And at 18:30, the official opening banquet in the presence of local authorities, the international world of the puppet, speeches and toasts often do in these circumstances.
To heat motors and give a sense of convivial spirit of this first day, here are some pictures with some newcomers to Chengdu.