On Thursday I headed down south with my host family to Temuco which is in the Araucanía Region in Chile. It was about a 12-13 hour drive in total after picking up my host-dad at work, my iPod and the empty backseat were my best friends! Something that came as a surprise to me is that we had to pay to use public bathrooms in the gas stations, mind you it wasn't much, but still... that's not as fair for women! We stayed at a friends of my host-parents in Temuco and as soon as we arrived passed 12 am we ate... this was a very common theme for the holiday as I will soon explain!
On Friday I went with my host mom to visit some friends (they used to live in Temuco, so lots of friends and family.) We then came back and had an asado, went to a market and saw half-alive chickens and turkeys for sale along with amazing fresh produce, came back and ate some more, went to a park area that looked over the city, then to a friends house with more food, and then back again and more friends came over.
On Saturday we went to Carahue where my host-dad is from. We saw these old trains that are only from that area and then saw a parade for the holiday celebrations. The parade had no floats, clowns, or people throwing candy out. There were a lot of groups that walked along, schools, native Mapuche people, and most importantly the huasos (Chilean cowboys.) At the end of the parade all the huasos lined-up (mind you I was cringing the whole time while half the horses were spooked) and then people danced the cueca! After that they poured some chicha (typical Chilean drink) into a cacho (bull horn) and passed it around for people to drink. Luckily I was up near the front so my host-mom told they guy that I'm from Canada and I needed to drink it, so I did! After the parade and running into family and friends of my host-family we went to three different houses of my host-dad's family, all including lots of food! We returned back to Temuco and ate, then headed to the fireworks display which ended up as a big taco (traffic-jam) and it only lasted a few minutes, different than our Canadian displays for sure.
Sunday we went to a place where they had holiday festivities for all ages along with displays and such. We also saw a rodeo when we were there, I enjoyed it but it also made me a little sad. Being the animal-lover that I am it was hard to see cows being smashed into the walls, and then some bleeding or not wanting to get back up, but that's the culture and entertainment! The day consisted of some more good food, asado, and more visits with family friends.
On Monday was our driving back home day, but we stopped at the market first to grab some more things. I love going to the markets and seeing all the fresh produce and crafts, and the different people, it's always interesting! Like any holiday, the traffic was pretty bad heading back to the "big city" and we got stuck in a few more tacos.
It was nice to see some more country and a different area of Chile. Whenever I get out of the city and see different things it reminds me of the reasons why I tried so hard to convince Rotary to send me to Chile - the diversity! Driving South the mountains are always on your left side, and vice-versa on the way North. During a few moments some of the South reminded me a lot of Canada, especially rural Ontario, lots of greenery, fields and trees. But then the trees go away, and you can see far in the distance and all of the rolling hills, no longer mountains but giant hills! Also, on our way home we stopped at the Salto del Laja which was a little waterfall and it was so beautiful and was in a little tourist town which we stopped for almuerzo in and once again ate a lot of food!
Chilean food consumption:
- Empanadas (everyone had empanadas, and everyone makes them differently so you HAD to try them!)
- Sopapillas (fried bread)
- Sopa de campo
- Pan de Pascua
- Pan, pan and more pan! (bread)
- Chilenitos (the manjar filled one's are the best!)
Something else that I keep on forgetting to write about is how they use "la" before someone's name as if they were a subject. So therefore I am used to hearing "la Lyndsay" a lot and I've even started to use it to refer to my friends... I'm starting to speak Chilean! Also one of my friends told me that I was speaking good Spanish when I returned from the holiday - ok... good Spanish for me is speaking broken-Spanish sentences, but it was nice that she said that and it gave me an extra confidence boost to keep on practicing! I've also started to get into the habit of picking-up one of the free metro newspapers that they hand out on the street. As long as there's no line or I'm not running to late to school I quickly grab one so I have reading material for school and I can practice my Spanish and try to stay informed about what is going on in the news... if I can understand, and if not, there's always sudoku!