Chilean Independence, Fainting at the Metro Station, Chilenidad, Broken Camera and Horcón – oh my!

Well, hey there! A few things have happened since I last blogged… most notably the amazing and epic celebration of Dieciocho(the 18th/Chilean Independence Day)! Chileans do things right and take an entire week off to celebrate their Independence!!! Or at least a lot of schools/businesses do, including my school – sa-weet!

The last few weeks have been incredibly fun and entertaining with a lot of fun and a little work! We started off the celebrations the Friday before the full week we had off. At my school, the kids put together some dances, performances and little speeches, and after that, about 100 of my students marched in a parade! I got to walk alongside them snapping photos of them in their brightly colored yellow shirts along with some of the other schools marching as well. The weekend before the 18th was also really fun – the gringos, myself, and some other Chilean friends went to festivals, barbeques(called asados here) neighborhood parties and regular old bars where there was notably something special in the air as people were excited to celebrate their independence day. Chileans have a great sense of pride and Chilean flags and colors could be seen as far as the eye could see, decorating cars, light posts, and front yards.

As I wanted to fully open myself up to the Chilean experience, I told myself that I could throw all inhibitions(and my vegetarianism) aside and try whatever looked appetizing to me. Although there was plenty of meat I didn’t want to even touch, let alone eat… blood sausages were one example… blech! I did manage to dabble in some of the following Chilean customs – drank some terremotos – a drink concoction of white wine and pineapple ice cream, had a few tiny bites of a pino empanada(beef, onions and eggs in an empanada), ate some chicken fresh off the parrilla(grill) made by my host dad, sang some Spanish karaoke(albeit badly, as I need to brush up on my Spanish songs), and had a little fashion shoot in a traditional cueca(dancing) costume.

The night before the 18th, my gringo friends and I had gone out to celebrate by watching some amazing fireworks in Valparaiso and met up with some other Chilean and gringo friends. While walking up the steps of the metro, I somehow managed to stub my toe/foot so badly that I passed out at the metro station(I think from pain?!), luckily only for a few seconds and was quickly awakened by my friends… After that I was dizzy for a bit but was still able to rally and enjoy a lovely evening of fireworks, beers, more karaoke and great times!

The actual day of the 18th, my host family had a huge get-together of about 40ish people – family, friends, co-workers, political figures, etc. and what a lovely day it was! I was still hobbling around a bit as my toe was in bad shape, but I managed to help out around the kitchen and have numerous conversations in Spanish, countless glasses of red wine, and lots of fooood! Chileans absolutely love their meat, so there were plates of it everywhere. I only dabbled in a bit of chicken, but it was indeed quite delicious(no, I’m not becoming a meat eater again). The celebration lasted likely more than 12 hours, with an aggressive game of Spanish Scrabble ending the evening(I came in 2nd of 5, with two Chileans playing)! The next day we just relaxed, had a little lunch and laid around – much needed after all that eating and drinking!

That Friday, my Chilena friend Yose, my gringo friend Julian, and I decided to head to a little beach town called Horcón about 2ish hours away from Quilpué. After such an exhausting week of eating, drinking and celebrating, we really needed to relax… 😉 We were fortunate enough to catch a ride with Jules’ host mom, who was also headed there for the day, so we had a fast and wild ride to the little magical surf town. Immediately upon arrival, I felt like I was back in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua or Santa Cruz, California – both amazing little beach towns. It was a beautiful, sunny day and we immediately found an amazing little restaurant with delicious fish and crab empanadas and then went and laid on the beach for most of the afternoon, sipping beers and soaking up the beautiful weather. That night, we drank piscos, wine, ate more empanadas and found a little artesanal fair to peruse. The next day, we spent more time on the beach, ate more empanadas, and drank more beer and wine – so exhausting! We headed back that night, and definitely plan to return to Horcón again very soon!

The week after the 18th I was back at school, and did my usual routine of teaching, soccer practice, running and enjoying the company of my lovely host family! Although, a hilarious but unfortunate event happened on Monday… I had let my host sister borrow my fairly new camera(bought it about 2-3 months ago) for the weekend and she had left it in her bag, and somehow her bag had made it into the washing machine, and somehow my camera got washed in the washing machine… needless to say it is now out of service, and after much apologizing on my host family’s part and a lot of laughs, I’m over it and am now borrowing my awesome friend Hillary’s camera until I get a new one!

Last weekend, many of the schools here celebrate what they call “Chilenidad” which is a celebration of Chilean culture, from the North to the South. Last Friday night, I went to an event at my host sister’s school and watched her and a bunch of her classmates dance, sing and perform some amazing traditional dances and songs from all parts of Chile. The next day, at my school, we had the same thing, complete with cueca dancing, traditional dances from all around Chile, and a Mapuche (indigenous tribe in Chile) tree planting and dance demonstration. It was a beautiful day and I’m so glad I got to be a part of it! I see my students every day in their little uniforms but it was very cool to see them taking pride in their culture and showing it off to parents and teachers. My co-teacher and I also got to put on display for parents and students various projects that my students have been working on – travel pamphlets and translated recipes on posters – in English! That night, I headed to my friend Hillary’s apartment for a little gringa once and dyed my hair red!!! After that, we went out to a fun little neighborhood pub and drank beers and spoke Spanish until way too late…

This last week has brought me back to “reality” as I’m back to teaching and just received an email from my program that I have a little less than 2 months left of teaching English at my school! However, I’m not sure if in 2 months I will say a permanent goodbye to Chile… Vamos a ver(we will see)! Although, I am in the process of buying tickets to travel with my mom to Peru and to come back to both San Francisco and Phoenix in December/January for a month! That’s all for now – hope you enjoy the pictures and have a lovely week!

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