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Fiestas Patrias, Part II

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

First of all, a confession.  I didn’t take great pictures this weekend.  I started off with big intentions about documenting everything, and then I wound up just living.  And really, the most important news is that SPRING IS HERE.  Okay, it officially starts tomorrow (the 21st), and they say in snowed in October 2009, but this weekend we had several days of glorious, glorious sun.  I ran in shorts and a t-shirt on Saturday morning.  And best of all: last night I wore light GAP pjs and a t-shirt to bed!  I guess my break-up letter got delivered!

As to Fiestas Patrias, I found myself at three gatherings over the weekend, two small-scale barbeques in friend’s houses, and one all-out fondo — traditional, all-day outdoor BBQ with decorated, covered space to eat and drink, and plenty of juegos tradicionales.

Okay, there were some actual traditional games (juegos tradicionales) specifically associated with this holiday, like kite-flying and a ring-toss thing, but the two above were the most popular, particularly the grown-ups vs. kids soccer game.  By the time we arrived on Sunday (the actual 18th), the streets were deserted and the whole town smelled fried, a mixture of meat empanadas and assado (BBQ).  Whoops, I don’t eat either of those things!  Though I had to put up with a bit of jearing, for the most part people were considerate.  For example, we grilled some vegi-only kabobs just for me.  Mostly, I ate salad and potatoes for 72 hours.  And Chilean salad means everything separated — lettuce salad, cucumber salad, etc. — except there was also pebre: chopped tomatoes, onions, cilantro and hot chili peppers.  Pebre is a close cousin to Mexico’s pico de gallo, except pebre only comes out at special occasions, and in Chile, pico means penis.


Of course, I exhausted all of my not-going-with-the-flow capital on being vegetarian, which meant when it came to alcohol, I had to try everything!  Actually I was happy to try chicha, a homemade liquor, this time from grape (I’ve had apple before).  Also notice how the place is decked out with a fridge to keep the beer close at hand.


At this bigger party, as well as in the houses of friends, I pitched in with the peeling and chopping, clearing plates, and so on.  Similar to the US, men were in charge of the grill, and the women, well, everything else.  And of course there was dancing.  I commented to someone that I’ve never seen the majority of my extended family dance — maybe at a wedding, but dancing has nothing to do with most family gatherings, certainly not Christmas, Thanksgiving, the 4th of July, or adult birthday parties.  Here, dancing is for everyone from the cradle on up.  I amused the crowd by dancing cueca, doing my best to copy the renditions I’ve seen for weeks in the school.

Here we are at the big celebration Sunday.  We went home for an impromtu siesta (5:30 – 8:30) and then headed back for more meat, more beer, and more dancing.

Here is the group from Saturday night (minus me, the photographer!).  And while I don’t have pictures from the party on Monday, I do have something else:

On Monday morning I woke up at the industrious hour of 10 AM (weekends are normally 11 or 12, like a good South American) to do laundry and build a fire (more to dry the clothes then for the cold, actually), and when I popped out to the corner store to buy eggs, the wonderful owner sent me home with a few of her homemade alfajores con manjar, a traditional dieciocho sandwich cookie of an eggy-wafer and caramel.  I love this woman and I loved these cookies!  In the end, a long, luxurious, very warm and very social weekend.

One Comment leave one →
  1. David Russell permalink
    Thursday, September 22, 2011 3:35 am

    Glad your break-up has been realized! You apologize for not taking enough pictures: I think you gave us a nice selection.

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