Because the Anna Karenina cartoon adaptation is not finished yet, Dad says we are going to stay in Chile until they're done.
I am trying to do one drawing a day, but I can't even keep up with that. There are too many distractions now that I'm on summer vacation.
My friend is taking soccer classes in a club three days a week, and she got me in too, so now I get up early to tire my muscles for two hours and come home and take a cold shower.
I also like to spend some time doing other thing on the computer. Plus, we go to the pool, get together with friends, read, watch movies, study, etc.
Right after the last RatSoap post, we got on a bus to go south. Since it was at night, I slept most of the way, but when we woke up, we were close to Temuco, which is about an hour from Villarrica.
The landscape was beautiful and reminded me a bit of where we live in Virginia---lots of fields of wheat with trees around them and a quiet road. What was different was that in the distance, there were a few mountains that we don't have in Virginia.
In downtown Villarrica, everything was the same as last year---the same restaurant where we ate a year ago, the same lady selling fruits and vegetables on the street, the same beach with the beautiful view of Volcán Villarrica.
There were also the huge eucalyptus trees next to the lake.
They smell fantastic, and we love picking up their leaves and fruits to put in the closets.
Soon the rest of the family got there, including my cousins who live in Africa. The first thing my four-year-old cousin (who goes to a British school in Africa) told me was: "I speak six languages---English, Spanish, Chilean, Vietnam, Swahili, and Tanzania!"
He also said that when he left Chile to go back home, we would all miss him.
When we asked him why we would miss him, he said, "Because I'm clever." (He pronounced "clever" as "clevah," the way Harry Potter would say it.)
His way of being clever was to figure a way to cheat at many games, by making up his own rules.
For example, when we played rock, paper, and scissors, he said that if he put forth his hand with separated, bent fingers, it meant "water," and that water beat rock, paper, and scissors. And only HE could use "water," which he did every time, so he always won.
Playing concentration with us, he flipped over all the cards before getting the correct one, and took another turn to find the next pair, until he "won" everything.
We had a good time playing with him anyway, and with his two-year-old brother, who really likes cars and calls them "beep-beep." The younger cousin is also clever and was very good at learning and saying everyone's names.
When the cousins arrived in Chile from Africa, they realized that the airline had lost one of their suitcases. The whole family was making calls, filling out papers with descriptions of what was inside and what it looked like outside.
The suitcase was the one that had all their Christmas gifts in it! Fortunately, it was found at the last moment, and we had Christmas without a tree but with many, many gifts.
The weather in Villarrica was nice. A little hot during the day but cool at night, even though it is summer. All of us completely forgot about Christmas (no snow and cold weather, no Christmas tree, no Santa Claus pictures in the supermarket, ect.).
But before we knew it, it was Christmas Day, and we all gathered in the cabin and opened our gifts.
Together, RJE and I got "The Golden Compass" (the book, which I finished reading before 2007 ended and, now, I like it as much as Harry Potter), a DVD of the movie "Ratatouille," a zampoña (the Andean musical instrument I wrote about earlier in RatSoap), a tambourine, and kangas like this one:
Kangas are printed fabrics used in East Africa, about the same size as a towel but much thinner, with lots of cool designs on them.
We also got clothes, jewelry, and a few other things like more books and dolls.
Our cousins didn't know why they were getting so many gifts. They don't usually celebrate Christmas in Vietnam, where my aunt is from.
Another special thing about Christmas Day is that it is also my abuelita's (grandmother's) birthday, and she had all her children and grandchildren with her to celebrate.
Since we didn't have good ovens in the cabins to bake with, we bought two delicious cakes from a German bakery in town.
In small towns like Villarrica, there are always cars with loudspeakers driving around advertising something. This time, it was a circus.
Some of the phrases that the loudspeakers said were "¡El caballito mas chico del mundo!" ("The smallest horse in the world!"), "El circo Mejicano de Guadalajara!" and "Leones africanos!"
And then: "El circo Mejicano de Guadalajara!" "El circo Mejicano de Guadalajara!" "El circo Mejicano de Guadalajara!"
They repeated everything again and again through all the streets of Villarrica. The circus was from Mexico, and Dad said the song they played over and over and OVER to promote it was called "Guadalajara," after a city in Mexico. He said most Chileans find everything that's Mexican exotic---the food, the music, the customs---because Mexico is so far from here, and so different.
"Guadalajara" is a nice song, but we got tired of hearing it played. If you've never heard what it sounds like, here is a video we found with Elvis Presley singing it, in Spanish!:
At the cabins where we stayed, lots of people just come to stay for a night and leave in the morning, and most are foreigners traveling around Chile.
There were Chinese, Swedes, French, Polish and, of course, Americans. One American family in the cabin next door stayed for one night. They were unloading their car when we saw one of the women wearing sweatpants, in that heat! And when she turned around:
Dad said maybe that was the name of a sports team she belonged to.
My aunt from Vietnam loves to cook, and she made some special foods for the holidays. She taught me to make rolls.
The ingredients are big lettuce leaves, rice noodles, pork (if you want meat in your rolls), grated carrot, a cut up cucumber, and a sauce made of soy sauce and peanuts (you can add spice to it, if you want).
The rolls are very easy to make. You take a piece of lettuce and put a bit of everything in it (except the sauce, which is for dipping later), and then roll it up tight.
The rolls were delicious.
Some of the other things she made were baked clams with lots of parmesan cheese on top, and mussels done the same way.
With my other aunt, we made "pebre," which is a Chilean sauce with tomato (small slices), oil, onion, parsley, cilantro, and "ají" (hot pepper). It is very spicy, but delicious. You usually put it on top of crackers or bread, or anything else you have to eat, like mashed potatoes or corn mush.
On the first day of 2008, we went to Pucón, a beautiful town about forty minutes east of Villarrica. Here is a photo of the Villarrica volcano from downtown Pucón:
There are beautifull wood buidings in Pucón. Here is "City Hall"...
...and the sign on the main fire station:
We also stopped at a beach there:
That afternoon, a volcano started erupting (not the Villarrica Volcano, which was right next to us, but another one called Llaima, about 60 miles north of Villarrica).
The news was everywhere the next day (we even got emails from family and friends asking if we were alright). But it wasn't that bad.
Some people in Villarrica told us they were able to see the eruption from the town, and that during the night, it looked as if fireworks were coming out of the mountain.
We didn't see anything until we got to a computer later and found some videos. Here are two:
When we got back to Santiago with our grandparents, Mom and Dad didn't want to stay in a small apartment with six people, so they went on their own for the weekend to a hostel in Valparaíso.
They loved it there, and took tons of photos of the port and the streets.
While they were there, we stayed with our grandparents in Santiago, and had a great time! Some of their friends came to visit, and they bought two of our bead necklaces from RJE's store.
Now the family reunion is over and everyone is back at their home, except us, until we get back to Virginia.
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The RatSoap™ Project is a work in progress, 2006-2008