One more year gone and past, usually I don't feel much or think to much after New Years but spending one in a foreign country really made me think this year. Last year at New Years I was in the shock mode still of receiving my exchange and was in a wanderlust of "where do I want to go?" or "Where will they send me? What will my life me like?" Well now I'm living it!
For New Years I was with my new family and we headed out to the beach to an uncle's house. They live at this beach called Las Cruces, a really cute beach town and had a spectacular view of the Pacific and a short walk to the beach. Once we arrived I met the whole family, well at least my host-Mama's side. Honestly I feel so happy and excited to have so much family now, it feels like I could have been back home with my parents family and our extended family of friends and kids. I also have quite a few cousins now, little boys, and it feels so normal playing video games or chasing after them. The family was so welcoming to me, although my spanish is much more limited than the last exchange student they had, they were still interested in talking with me. After hanging around for a while we had an asado and dinner around 10 pm. By the time it was midnight we were all outside listening to the radio doing the countdown, I was equipped with my Chile-New Years hat, confetti gun, and noise maker ready for midnight! FELIZ AÑO!!
Once it was midnight everyone went around giving every person a big hug, a kiss, and a "feliz año" salude. Then they served a traditional drink after - champagne with pineapple ice cream and we watched the fireworks far away while the dancing was just getting started! That's right, we were one of those families that has the music blasting and dance the night away! There were some good dance moves, along with some "simon-says" dancing... oh it was funny!
Some New Years traditions:
- wearing yellow underwear for good luck (they would sell these on the street as well)
- eating 12 grapes after midnight (one for every month - I said mine in Spanish first, then English... extra luck in both languages!)
After not getting to much sleep along with the fact I slept in the same room as a tiny baby I headed down to the beach with my little cousins and watched them try to get into the water. Then after lunch I headed out with my host-brother, Uncle, and one cousin to the "secret point." It was such a surreal feeling - driving with all the windows down, listening to "The real Slim Shady" on repeat, surfboards on top of the car on January 1st. We met-up on the road with some of my uncle's friends who directed us to the "secret point." We drove through this community of huge houses, it seemed a little like rich California to me. We ended up at this private beach in our regular vehicles with surfboards while the citizens of the neighborhood had their personal 4-wheelers for the whole family, designer sunglasses, and Mercedes cars that got stuck in the sand - I think we crashed the beach! We then walked for a 1/2 hour to get to our "secret point." While my uncle and cousin were getting their surf stuff on I decided I was going swimming... my host brother didn't believe I was going to do it. First time ever swimming in the Pacific was on New Years day, in Chile... how many can say that. But not only did I go once, but twice... in Canada we do polar-bear dips, a little bit of cold ocean water isn't that bad! After my second swim I decided to try surfing. Never being taught what to do I just went for it, and I sure made a fool out of myself. I never did stand up, but I had some good body surfs, and I also obtained some battle scars on my knees! It was truly such a relaxing and chill day to say the least, such a cool way to spend the first day of the new year. Finally getting home around 10:30 pm, I took a needed shower since I was freezing, had some once, then a few of us headed down to the arcade by the beach for a while.
I have to say honestly I really enjoyed my New Years a lot more than Christmas. Maybe it's because Christmas is more of a family thing. But I didn't even mind the fact that I couldn't go out and party with my friends here for New Years. Being with my new family and the whole family was really fun and it reminded me of New Years past with the "gang" of family-friends and all the kids (who happened to be boys) back home when I was younger.
I think I've also finally come to the conclusion that I'm in Chile, living my life here, on exchange, this is real. It hit me on New Years eve day when we were driving and I was just looking out at the landscape, listening to reggeaton, driving with my Chilean family - I'm really here. It was also reinforced when I was sitting on the beach New Years day, being able to spend half of 2011 in Chile... how amazing is that!