Monday, December 27, 2010
Christmas in Chile
Christmas in Chile sure was different. First of all let's start off with the weather - bright and sunny, I was wearing shorts, birkenstocks, and a t-shirt on Christmas eve, and then a sundress on Christmas day... a little different from heavy sweaters and boots that I would normally be wearing in Canada!
Christmas eve day I woke-up, met my older host-brother who had just arrived home from Argentina, had a little something for breakfast, showered, and relaxed. For lunch we had completos (hotdogs) then some more time to just relax and chill (lately I've gotten into watching Friends with spanish subtitles or The OC in spanish... that's hard!) Around 9 pm we had a "snack" so some left overs, pan de pascua, aceitunas, my homemade ginger snap cookies, leche con cola de mono, etc. Then around 10:30 pm was the "meal." Nothing like Canadian Christmas with a big meal with all the fixings but we just had a little bit of turkey and potato salad. We skyped with my host-brother in Kentucky when we were eating and after just talking. Then after midnight that's when we opened up our presents. Again a little less-dramatic than my typical Canadian Christmas, everyone just ripped theirs open at once... I was the weird one to wait until they told me "Open them open them!!!" I stayed up until 2:30 am with my family and then finally headed to sleep because I knew I had an early morning.
On Christmas day I woke-up early to Skype with my mom and step-dad back home and open up our presents together. I think for the both of us Christmas just doesn't feel right being away from each other, me being parent-less and them being child-less. After that my Chilean family and I went to the house of one of my host-uncle's whom I'd never met before. He lives 15 mins. from Viña del Mar. So we arrived and talked a bit, then had lunch, some more turkey, then my family headed to the coast. We drove through Viña del Mar and then to Reñaca where I got to put my feet in the Pacific ocean for the first time in the southern hemisphere (i've still yet to swim in the pacific.. ever!) I can say I've never been close to going to a beach on a Christmas day before! We walked around a bit then went back to my host-uncle's. We stayed there and had once then headed back home. My family wasn't doing anything so I skyped with more family back home, my grandparents then my dad, step-mom, step-brother. After all of that it was fairly late.... but then I started to pack. Why pack you may ask? Well you see I was changing houses the next day! Yep, one day after Christmas I switched families!
I'm probably one of the worst packers in the world but I finally managed to get all of my stuff into quite a few bags. My new parents came to my now-old house with my friend from Pennsylvania (whom I switched with), and we did the big switch-a-roo. I now live in the comuna Recoleta, in my house is my mama, papa, host-brother, and also my host-grandma. It's close to the centro of Santiago and also to Cerro San Cristobal, Bellavista, and huge-cheap-shopping area Patranato. It's such a different feeling being in this area, I feel like I'm more in Chile now, although I can't be out late because it's quite a peligroso area. Unlike Las Condes my street doesn't look like there's houses, its more of flat-fronted buildings, kind of a surprise of what's inside! My house is really nice inside, and is quite larger than my last house. My parents showed me my room (with a queen bed and my own bathroom - score!) and then the rest of the house with a nice large patio also. After I got some of my stuff settled into my room I went on a walk with my parents to the supermarket nearby as they showed me landmarks, major streets, and where the closest metro station is. I think I'll be quite happy living here for the rest of my exchange, although it is very far away from my school and friends I'll make it work!
So overall my Chilean Christmas experience was, well... different, as well every family here has their own way of celebrating. For me it feels like I just skipped over another major holiday, as if it never happened. Thankfully all the major celebrations are over - in October was Thanksgiving/three family member birthdays, then November was my birthday, and now Christmas has come and passed. By no means am I complaining, it's just interesting to be apart from what I'm "used to" and doing things in a different way - but that's what exchange is all about right!