Chilean Fiestas Patrias

Santiago, Chile

Independence day here and guess who showed up…mis padres. Chileans have a whole week off for their holiday which is the 18 of September. Many leave the city and most spend it with their families in the same part of Chile every single year. Hence all of my friends are gone! The 18 may be independence day, but the rest of the country did not receive the news of independence until the 20th so that day is also big for others outside of Santiago. The 19th is the military day and Chile has a huge parade with traditional maneuvers that many military departments would die to learn it from them. When my friend Leah and her husband came he saw videos and asked how long they practice and he was told a week or less, to which he was shocked because in the US to learn a drill like that would take months of preparation because it is not their focus nor included much in training…sad…traditions lost.

Any who, I was lucky enough to be in town for this special week and so happy to have my parents come visit. By this time I was not renting an apartment but my friend had gone on vacation and lent his to me and my parents. Super fortunate and thankful!!! 😀

They arrived before the party started and we were able to get some of the touristy stuff out of the way plus it allowed me to inform and teach them about Santiago, Valparaiso, and Chile. This was helpful because they were staying two weeks and I was not going to be there the whole time. I had a previously planned trip to Panama with the MBA program at UChile.

To celebrate fiestas patrias we went to two Fondas in parks around town. Basically imagine a huge state fair going on for a week. That seems to be how they celebrate their independence day and fiestas patrias. Each fonda is loaded with traditional foods from Chile, drinks, traditional dances, entertainment from all parts of Chile, rodeos, folk music, kites flying, and way too many people.

The best one to go to is in Parque O´Higgins. It is massive and has people from all walks of life there. Lots of kites, many areas to watch dances, shows, rodeos, live music, and food entry areas. This is also where they do their military performances on the 19th (including fly overs by all types air force planes – including refuelers). We actually received tickets but I failed to pick them up so we watched from gates…booo.

The 18th for us was celebrated at another park Padre Hurtado. It was more family oriented and cost money to enter unlike O´Higgin´s which was open to todos! The fiesta there was just as good but maybe more calm. Although we did not go all out and stay into the night. At O´Higgin´s I would definitely not recommend staying late because people were pretty wasted by 5pm…but I would assume all others would be just fine. Oddly there were no fireworks, so for me I felt jipped on my celebration…GRINGA (American). Also there was a lot of flags but oddly not as many dressed in red whites and blues. There were a lot of wasos..cowboys though and the traditional reed hats.

Besides the celebrations, I took my parents for a day trip to Valparaiso so they could see my favorite city. It was an interesting challenge as we rented a car. Can you say I don´t really know my way around but we made it and didn´t pay for parking or deal too much with traffic or crazy driving as it was holiday. I did make the mistake of trying to show my family the beaches north of Valpo at rush hour and it scared them out of the incredible sunsets they have…oops. Dad was driver…sorry you had to deal with driving there and Thank You!

In Santiago we mostly did the main tourist attractions, which wasn´t new for me. I did finally achieve going up  Cerro San Cristobal all possible ways while they visited…the last mode of transit was the teleferico (asensor). I´d already walked, ran, biked and drove up. Always a different experience/perspective with different people even if I´d done these touristy stops before plus usually some time in between visits so things do change. I still would like to see the Correo´s museum, enter La Moneda, and eat at BordeRio. Keeping them on the list.

Also before my parents came I saw many friends from UChile before we all left Santiago for good. It was interesting as it was like a going away meeting but I left each person with a ¨we´ll see each other again¨ feeling. Who knows maybe I´ll end up in Chile after all, time will tell.

More here on travels in Chile.

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