Ever spun a top? A real one made of wood, wrapped in string, and thrown to make it spin? In Chile it’s called a “trompo” and is popular with men of all ages…and certainly not as easy as it looks!
The sense of Chilenidad—Chile’s national identity—the collection of all that makes up a spirit of being Chilean—is composed of many different aspects, one of which is games, and one of the oldest is the trompo, a simple wooden cone-shaped yet rounded toy with a metal tip that is thrown so that it spins upright. Once you get the basic tossing down, you start with tricks, such as picking it up to spin on the palm of your hand or even throwing it so that it lands—spinning—in your hand without ever having touched the ground.
One year we bought trompos for all the guys in my family—gringos every one—and not a one could make the darn things work. They insisted it couldn’t be done. Step forward non-English-speaking Chilean husband… It was his moment of glory as he wrapped the string and tossed the trompo out onto the driveway and the rest stood drop-jawed like little kids, begging to try it again!