Anticuchos, Terremotos y Cueca
Lively. That’s how I’d describe the vibes of Santiago this past week and a half. On Monday, September 18th, was Chile’s Fiestas Patrias, or day of independence. Even though I was out of the country for the official day of celebration, (I was in Lima, Peru to meet up with my dad who happened to be there on business) I definitely did not miss out. What I’ve learned is that unlike our July 4th, Chile’s celebration of independence lasts more than a couple of days. And I love this idea! The more days the merrier, right? You can always use an excuse to eat delicious food, spend time with family and friends, and fill the streets with festive music.
Last weekend, on the 10th of September, I went with a few friends from my IFSA-Butler program to a fonda. What’s a fonda? According to my host brother, it is essentially a type of old-style fair that dates back to the earliest celebrations of Chile’s independence in the early 1800’s. There was so much food there I couldn’t believe it. It’s a bit embarrassing to admit how much food I ate. I first bought myself an anticucho, which is basically a kabob: a skewer of beef, sausage, and vegetables. Later, my friends and I bought some cheese empanadas and terremotos. Chile is infamous for its terremotos. Literally meaning “earthquake,” it is an iconic alcoholic beverage made with pipeño, a sweet wine, and pineapple ice cream. The drinking age here is 18, by the way, so it is nice to be legal. (That being said, obviously drink responsibly). The funny part is that it’s called a terremoto because if you drink it too fast, you will get up and feel like there’s an earthquake due to the effect of the alcohol. Needless to say, we all drank responsibly. It was fun to take part in this Chilean tradition, laughing with friends and being surrounded by excited Chileans!
Just when I thought I could not take another bite, one of my friends suggested we get a panqueque con manjar. In my last post I raved about the mouth-watering, caramel crepes, so yes, I’d say I’m obsessed! But don’t get me wrong. La fonda had more than just food and alcohol. There was live music, a rodeo, a reenactment of the war battle, and representatives of the Mapuche people from the South of Chile to share some of their traditions with us. Oh and I can’t forget the last and arguably most important event: la cueca. La cueca is Chile’s traditional national dance, just like the Tango is in Argentina. It’s a partner dance that is very flirty and fun. While I didn’t dance (it seemed too complicated to me and I am not that skilled of a dancer), it was very entertaining to watch.
All in all, las Fiestas Patrias were awesome. It’s a wonderful time of the month because everyone’s spirits are up, Chilean flags are up on every store front, and it’s the time when winter turns into spring! (Remember, opposite season). If you’re thinking of studying abroad in Chile, which you should, you should definitely come for your Fall semester so you can experience this national holiday.