My first 18 in Chile

I’ve been a bad blogger! I wish I could say it’s because I’ve been oh-so-busy with 18 festivities, but that’s not really it.

I did have a good 18. My friends and I went to two different fondas (the same ones Emily wrote about) and it was a great cultural experience. I had no idea really what a fonda was before I stepped foot in Parque Ines de Suarez, but I guess I could describe it as a mini-fair of all things Chilean. On Friday we went to Parque Padre Hurtado in La Reina, which was much bigger (and more expenisve!) and included a medialuna (rodeo arena) and a huge arena where we watched this awesome performance that included dancers and horsebackriders and chronicled the history of Chile from the indigenous groups until, well, I’m not sure because we left before it was over in search of candy apples. But, there were some awesome Mapuche trick riders (they sure knew how to ride a horse!) and the best part was when they did the cueca on horseback! Really cool. Unfortunately, my camera is from the stone age and we were sitting kind of far away so I’m embarrased to post the photos I have.

All in all, 18 was fun. I relaxed a lot and saw a side of Chile and Chileans that I’ve never seen before. In fact, I was commenting to my friend E. that even though there were a TON of people at Parque Padre Hurtado, I didn’t feel annoyed like I usually do when there are masses of Chileans (like on the metro or at the grocery store). Everyone seemed happier and out to celebrate. No one cut us in line or acted impatient. It was a nice break from the normal grumpiness of Santiago. Also, it was a great excuse to eat foods that I love, like choripan (sausage in bread), anticuchos (kebabs), churros, and empanadas, and drink yummy chicha (young wine that tastes like juice) and terremotos (green wine with pineapple ice cream).

Also, another highlight was seeing all of the young children decked out in the traditional huaso (Chilean cowboy) costume. I think I would have died if my parents had made me dress like a person from colonial times for the 4th of July, but it seems to be pretty normal practice for young children to get decked out for the 18th. And it’s pretty cute to see, I have to admit.

However, it wasn’t exactly the week-long “party” that I envisioned. Besides the two fondas, I didn’t really do anything else 18-ish. No asados, no all-night partying. I feel like in order to do those things you a) need a really big group of gringo friends that all stay in Santiago or b) a Chilean family to adopt you. Most of my friends went to the beach or the campo or were caught up with their own adopted families for the weekend. I could have tagged along with my Chilean host family, but that would have required planning and a willingness to do whatever they were doing.

That being said, it was way more exciting than the 4th of July (sorry, USA!) and I had a good time. Here’s hoping that next year is even better.


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