family vacation

It’s been a VERY LONG TIME since I’ve posted.  Mostly because I was on VACATION!  And then came back to reality, which has been quite busy lately!  I had an amazing time with my family- 7 days, 4 towns, and one broke-down car (story to come…keep reading).  I could write pages and pages, but I’ll try to keep it short-ish.

Wednesday, September 14- left Santiago.  We drove about 5 hours south to the small town of San Carlos, where we stayed with my mom’s cousin, his wife, and daughter.  After lunch in San Carlos, we took off again to visit another cousin in the nearby town of Chillán.  My mom seems to have family all over the south!  We first went to the market in Chillán, where we ate lots of fresh french fries, and then went to the cousin’s for dinner.  And yes, food is an important part of the culture here…I did NOT go hungry this week.

market in Chillán: a traditional fiestas patrias dress

Thursday, Sept. 15- Concepción!  Trini and I day tripped to Concepción (the largest town I went to all week) in bus, about 2 hrs away.  I wasn’t actually sure that we were going to make it there because we had to get up early to catch the bus, and my mom’s cousin told us just to head over the bus station- “it’s over there” and hop on the bus to Concepción- “I think it leaves around 7:45?”  Chilean directions are incredibly vague, but amazingly, we made it there with out any trouble!  We went to an art museum, walked through the park, climbed to the top of a hill for a view of the city, walked around the plaza, and went shopping!

Trini and I in Concepción (hiking the up the hill)

Friday, Sept. 16- San Carlos to San Fabián.  We spent most of the day in San Carlos, walking and riding bikes around town, hanging out at the playground, eating ice cream in the plaza.  Also- we went to the meat market to stock up the for the weekend.  I was quite fascinated, as we don’t have carnicerías in the U.S., at least not in Michigan. I told my host mom that one of my sisters is a vegetarian…and for the rest of the week my mom kept telling other family members (to shock them): “Tess’ sister is a vegetarian!  Can you believe it!?!?  She would die from hunger here!”   In the evening we drove to San Fabián, where my mom’s aunt and uncle have a vacation home, which is where we stayed, with them and her cousin from San Carlos.  San Fabían is a very very very small town, occupied mostly by summer vacationers.  It’s nestled in the foothills of the cordirella (Andes mountains) and bordered by a river and expanses farmland.  It’s definitely the most beautiful (and tranquil) place I’ve been in Chile thus far!  Friday night we had our first asado.  Official food of the weekend? MEAT.  And drink? Red wine.

meat market in San Carlos, decorated for Fiestas Patrias

Saturday, Sept. 17- San Fabián. I went for a run each morning that we were in San Fabián and enjoyed the beautiful countryside and small town quaintness.  We had a very relaxing day: bike rides, late lunch, fishing at the river, and concluded the day with another asado, of course.

down at the river

Sunday, Sept. 18- Fiestas Patrias! (the Chilean Independence Day) in San Fabián.  There was a horse-parade through town on the morning of Fiestas Patrias, passing by our house.  I helped my mom and aunt make empanadas, which were a ton of work, but totally worth it.  We had another large lunch (the biggest and most important meal of the day) and then in the afternoon, some of us went for a drive along the river, stopping to enjoy the scenery, walk around, and take pictures along the way.  And in the evening?  An asado!  This time it was Chilean shish-kabobs.  Then, around 11:30pm, we went to the local “fonda.”  In big cities like Santiago, a fonda is like a state fair, complete with food, drink, dancing, and entertainment.  The fonda in San Fabián was quite distinct from the big city fondas, but still enjoyable!  It was just a tent sent up, with a dirt floor, but there was a live band, lots of dancing!

Making empanadas with my mom

Monday, Sept. 19- Fiestas Patrias, cont. (the 2nd day of celebration) in San Fabián.  I’ve been asked by Chileans a few times, “Is it true that in the U.S. you only have one day of celebration for your independence ?  And you don’t have a national dance!?!?  Qué fome! (how lame/boring!)”  Chileans turn Fiestas Patrias into a whole weekend (or week…or month…) of celebration.  We continued our celebrations on Monday and then cleaned up to head home.  Monday afternoon Trini, her cousin Isidora, and I escaped for a bit to enjoy one last bike ride around town.  In the evening we returned to San Carlos.

main street of San Fabián

Tuesday, Sept. 20- the long trek home.  So here comes the car-breaking-down-story.  We were heading out of town (minus my dad, who was staying there for business) and got about 5 blocks away from my mom’s cousin’s house, when the car broke down.  Luckily we were still in town and her cousin and uncle happen to know how to tow cars, so they came to our rescue.  After we took the car to the mechanic and consumed a few ice cream bars, my host mom decided buy Trini and I bus tickets back to Santiago, since we both had classes the next day.  Trini and I were experts on the bus at this point, so we were pretty excited to take another bus trip together, and I was ready to get back home.  We hopped on the bus, said goodbye to the family, who was staying til the car got fixed, and finally made it home!  Whew!  We were home alone for 2 days, but survived just fine, watching lots of episodes of our favorite Chilean soap opera, Esperanza, together.

I thoroughly enjoyed my first diesiocho in Chile, and had so much fun celebrating it in such a beautiful place with my family! If you want to see all of my pictures from the week (warning: there are A LOT), click this link:



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