Horses & Cuecas
There are many extracurricular classes that meet after school. Some of them are music, painting, chess, and sports.
RJE does music, but sometimes she gets to do origami. Since she is not in the origami class, she has to "sneak" to the library during one of the recess periods and the librarian helps her make things from paper.
Sometimes one or two friends go with RJE if they are not busy jumping rope or playing tag. With paper, the students make animals, houses, cups, etc. These are some of the gifts RJE made for Mom and Dad:
In Chile there is a law that every house or building MUST fly the flag on Independence Day, or be fined. So everyone had the flag up over the holidays. We bought one to take home as a souvenir. Here are some we saw outside Santiago over the weekend:
The busy five-day holiday weekend is now over.
For me it started on Friday when we had to dance "la mazamorra" in front of the whole school. The mazamorra is a dance with a girl in between two boys---something about two roosters fighting for a hen. Here's a video we found about it (sorry, we don't have one of MY performance):
The girls in my class had to wear a China outfit (pronounced "Chee-nah"). It is the flowered dress that women usually wear to dance the "cueca," the national dance of Chile.
Women who wear these dresses are called Chinas, too. Some of us wore a flowered skirt with a white blouse instead, and all the girls wore braids with ribbons in their hair. Some wore makeup.
The boys put on the "huaso" outfit---a plaid shirt, a straw hat, a chamanto (a short, elegant poncho), black boots with spurs, and almost any kind of pants with the socks and boots pulled up over them. But none of the boys in my class wore spurs. The Chilean huaso is a combination of cowboy and farmer and man from the countryside.
We didn't get very good photos or videos of the school presentations, but here's a short sample (RJE can be seen in her China outfit among the kids walking off the court after their performance):
From Friday on it was all invitations.
We were invited to one of RJE's friends' house for a "parrillada" or "asado" (a barbecue). We sat in the backyard with the grill next to us filled with meat, chicken, sausages, and bread. I had a drumstick and some salad that I didn't finish. RJE didn't finish her chicken either.
All the children played outside with friends from the neighborhood after lunch. We took turns pushing and pulling a wagon around a tiny park (I did most of the pushing).
The family lives in a quiet neighborhood. All the houses around the park have children between 6 and 10 years old. It was perfect for playing hide-and-seek, tag, jumping rope, or pushing the wagon.
I would have liked to live in a place like that during our stay in Chile. We would probably get to practice a lot more Spanish that way, because we would go to school and talk all day, and then come home and talk the whole afternoon with neighborhood friends.
The next day we went to a "Fonda."
In the old days, people would get together at small inns in the countryside. Those inns usually had large outdoor restaurants where people would gather to play music, eat, drink, and have a good time. That's what fondas are for. This fonda we went to was that and more.
It had a circus.
Besides clowns, there were many trapeze artists flipping and hanging by their head, feet, knees, and hands. It gave me the creeps and I thought someone was going to fall and die at any moment.
This fonda was in a huge park and they had many things going on. There were people dancing the cueca...
...and a group from Easter Island doing Polynesian dances.
They had an exhibit of Chilean myths and legends...
...all types of food and handicraft booths...
...a tent with a dance competition, and a huge playground. Here's a video with a little bit of everything we found at that fonda:
Of course, they had tons of junk food, too. Cotton candy and popcorn stands were everywhere. On the way out, we bought some cotton candy. In Spanish, it's called "algodón de azúcar," which means sugar cotton. This is only the second time in my life I have had it, and I will never eat it again. It is just sugar! It also feels like you are eating hair that disappears as soon as you touch it with your tongue.
Here's one crazy person we saw eating cotton candy:
Finally, on the big day (18th of September, Chile's Independence Day), we went to the same parcela I went to a few months ago about an hour and a half away from Santiago.
It was sunny and warm and a perfect day to go. After a huge lunch, we went out exploring with the other kids my friend invited.
The friends are from Venezuela and the oldest boy, who is ten, is an actor and appeared in a movie on Chilean TV recently, and he also does commercials. His little sister, who is five, got along well with RJE. The middle child, eight years old, looks EXACTLY like the twins on the Zack and Cody TV show.
The nearest town to the parcela is called Curacaví, which is famous for its chicha. Chicha is a drink made from grape juice. They sell it a few days after they make it and, because it is very sweet, it ferments quickly and becomes an alcoholic drink.
September 18th is a big day for drinking chicha in Chile, and a lot of people get drunk. I was allowed to try some and it was very sweet. It looked and tasted like prune juice.
Curacaví also had a huge fonda. One that was much more traditional than the one we went to in Santiago because it had a rodeo competition.
It wasn't very clear to me what the purpose of the rodeo was, but it looked like two men on horses were supposed to show their skills by driving a calf from one end of the pen to the other with the horses. Here's a video:
At the end of the rodeo, the queen came out (like a homecoming queen for the 18th of September holiday) and she and some of the huasos danced a cueca.
There was a lot of noise at this fonda, with music and people drinking chicha. One booth was selling the chamantos, stirrups, bridles, boots, hats, spurs, and other dressage equipment.
There was truck after truck arriving with families who came to spend the night and camp out. They had a picnic-style dinner set up in front of their cars with bonfires, grills, and tons of carne.
Everyone was flying kites too.
I didn't have a kite and my parents didn't buy me one, so I helped the five-year-old girl with her Barbie kite.
Dad said it was the most 18th-like 18th he had had in his WHOLE life.
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The RatSoap™ Project is a work in progress, 2006-2007