This past week we celebrated Chile’s independence day. So, I am feeling extra patriotic. In spite of having 11 days off, I decided to stick around and take advantage of the time and culture here during this super entretenido (fun) event.
Some highlights of the time off:
The Sunday before our week off of class a few friends and I headed to a nearby and noteworthy National Park for the latest nature adventure!
Adventure is kind…as much hiking as I’ve been doing in Chile’s breathtaking landscapes this one was a challenge. A group of two girls and I from our program along with another exchange student from Columbia and another Chilean friend tried to take on the “cumbra,” or summit, but had arrived too late due to a broken down metro constituting about an hour of our trip to Limache. Nonetheless, we made it to the “minas,” or mines, which still took a lot out of everyone but was worth it completely and lent itself to beautiful scenes.
So in the US we are used to the 4th as a single day of celebration. Yeah, it might mean a weekend full of Barbecues, but I have to confess is that it is nothing compared to Chile’s carretiendo (partying). Basically the weeklong celebrations consist of two major components: Los asados and las Remadas. Los asados, are when friends and family come together to grill and eat a lot of meat. Of course there is talking and merriment, but when it comes down to the point of these gatherings, its all about sitting around and indulging in steak, pork, and chicken together. The Remadas are fair-like set-ups where there is lots of food, games, and dancing. I learned Chile’s national dance, La Cueca! But, full disclosure, the most common tradition is to find a tent (all cleverly named) with available seating, post up with your group, and order pitchers of Terremotos, one of Chile’s most popular drinks.
My last free day before the realities of class, assignments, and other responsibilities began creeping in, Christina and I did some stay-cationing in Valpo. Where this was not my first time exploring the sister city, it was one of my favorites. The truth about Valparaíso is that you can go to every cerro (the hills that make up the city), think you have walked every major street, and still not have seen everything. This frustrating and beautiful fact makes it one of my favorite, favorite places. I’m in a perpetual state of restlessness with its indefinite wonder.
All and all it was a week full of rest, time with family and friends, and A LOT of meat. As for a Spanish update? Although, I am constantly so focused on all that I don’t know, all of the ways I am still unable to express myself, and how much better my peers are than I am, I will say this: My personal insecurities aside, I was told three times this week that my Spanish was good from new acquaintances (all met in different contexts). Additionally, one of my closest Chilean friends bumped me up to a 7 on the Spanish scale that I’m on. For him to say I am improving means a lot.
I am so happy, each day more accustomed, and learning in every capacity. For others to note on this gives me the confidence and drive to continue the pursuit of my journey here, tirelessly and courageously.