Monday, October 13, 2008

Over Before It Begins

As promised, below are pictures and stories about my amazing week celebrating Fiestas Patrias, Chile’s Independence Day. I had hoped to write something longer and more detailed, but it seems these days the day is over before it begins – every day is filled with a “to-do” list and writing on this blog never gets around to being crossed off.

Good news is that more and more the work that I have been swamped with these past few weeks is coming to an end. I am about done coordinating all the details for the exchange students and their upcoming trip/visit to the United States next January-March. This year the work was doubled, sometimes tripled, as I did what I always do and took on more work, coordinating the program at another local high school as well. In the end, everything worked out, but it definitely had its moments of stress…

Bad news is that while a large portion of my work is ending, whatever free time that provides is being filled with studying for the GRE and completing graduate school applications. As some of you know, I am applying to 6 different schools to study and receive a Masters in Non-Profit Management, with hopes this will lead to a life-long career of travel and little money being a consultant for international non-profit organizations. Studying for this test is going well and I am actually quite excited to take it at the end of November. The applications? Well, let’s just say I would rather be doing something else…

And so, that’s it – nothing else in life to write about. Pretty simple around here. Spring is here and every day gets more beautiful – I love that I am wearing skirts and flip flops almost every day and no longer have to sleep with my boyfriend at night. Also - I am excited thinking that in less than a month I will have a new niece or nephew AND in about two months I will be back to the U.S. for Christmas and New Year’s Eve!

Hope everyone is well, you are all always in my thoughts and prayers.

~ M


Fiestas Patrias 2008

As I wrote last year, Fiestas Patrias is by far my most favorite time in Chile. Everyone is family and treats each other as such, and days are filled attending barbecues, cultural events, and dancing the night away.

The week started off wonderfully. Brian, John, and I took the orphanage kids I visit each week to fly kits at Bernardo O'Higgins Park, a "must-do" during the holidays. Sarah and I also received two elite invitations to go to President Bachelet's ecumenical ceremony at the National Cathedral. It was star sighting the entire time for a political nerd like me, as all the Ministers and government officials of the Chilean government were there. The highlight was being about 10 feet away from President Bachelet herself and getting lots of pictures...oh yeah, and the ceremony was good too, haha.

In the end though, Fiestas Patrias was truly celebrated this year with John, Brian, Sarah (one of my best friends who is a Maryknoll missioner here in Chile), our good friend Oliver, his family, and me. Oliver invited the four of us to celebrate the last four days of Fiestas Patrias with his family in San Felipe, a small town about an hour outside of Santiago. I said yes immediately, getting excited that I would not only celebrate the holiday in true Chilean style in the countryside, but I would return to a part of Chile I love and a location very close to where I used to live December 2006-March 2007.

The holiday certainly did not disappoint. Oliver’s family was amazing: all 20-25 of them! We ate traditional Chilean food, with the meat cooked outside in the adobe mud oven (picture left), and ate, and ate some more, then drank wine, pisco sours, and chicha. The family, who prides itself on its long standing tradition of everyone in the family being able to dance the Cueca, Chile’s national dance, pulled out the guitar and spent hours outside on the porch dancing the Cueca – teaching us “gringos” over and over again until we actually knew what we were doing. The most amazing thing was the guitar player was their 70-something year old Grandma who told John she had been playing guitar longer than he has been alive! (picture below and video at the bottom of this post of Oliver and his cousin dancing the Cueca)

Oliver's Grandma and Aunts singing traditional Chilean music

Me dancing the Cueca

The gang enjoying one of many Chilean meals in the countryside

After a night of dancing with the family at a local festival and my unique opportunity to ride a horse (which I embarrassingly fell off at some point, but my clumsy self got back on, haha), we “jovenes” (young people between the ages of 18-30) left the family and went and celebrated at a “fonda” (tent with music and dancing). We danced the entire night – not exaggerating when I say that we finally returned and went to sleep at 5:30am. We were shocked at this, but at the same time knew we actually returned early for Chileans, especially during Fiestas Patrias.

The next days were spent with the family and hiking around the beautiful countryside. I could not have asked for anything more and mentioned this to Oliver as we were getting back on the bus to go back to Santiago, stating I did not want to return to Santiago. Oliver summed it up perfectly when he responded: “Oh Michelle, I know but we have to return to reality."

At my friend Oliver's Grandmother's house. Oliver and his cousin dance the Cueca while his Grandmother plays the guitar and his Aunts sing

Group shot and the beautiful scenery (Brian was taking the picture)


At 10/19/2008 2:30 AM, Blogger Patrick Furlong said...

Hey Homegirl,

Love reading your blogs and trying to stay up to date with Chile!

What schools are you applying to for grad school?


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