Saturday, September 18, 2010


Spring arrived in the first week of August. The tree outside my window flowered (and has now faded), the birds returned, the cold receded enough that I could stop wearing long underwear to bed. The cat siblings, Eats-Little and her runt sister Eats-Never, come inside to scout around for food, but if they don't find it, they pace around like bored children looking for something to do, and they really want to be outside and you don't have to force them. (Sacha, the queen of the household, remains a happy mostly-indoor cat.)

A few people here said, "No, spring isn't until September 21st." I've never understood people fetishizing the solar calendar (September 21st is the equinox) as the beginning of the season, when the season will have so obviously already started. Is it really meaningful to say "Summer starts on June 22nd" when it's been over 90 degrees every day since the beginning of May?

We're careening steadily toward the end of the school year, especially toward the end of my teaching, which I'm aiming to be November 19th. For 8 weeks of classes, that probably translates to 5-7 more classes with each student.

Today is Chile's bicentennial independence day! The Spanish term is Fiestas Patrias, and I translate it as "Independence Week" to try and get the flavor across, since it's a multi-day shindig. There are 2 consecutive holidays, Army Day and Independence Day, and Chile tries to take as much of the time off as it can. The past two years, what one young Chilean acquaintance referred to as "years of frickin' gold," the holidays occurred midweek, so Chile took the entire week off, plus the weekends, for a 9-day Independence Day festival.

This year, both days are on the weekend, so Congress gave everyone Friday and Monday, to make sure there was enough time for drinking. However, plenty of people have been going strong since Sunday.

The main focus is these pavilions, called either fondas or ramadas (I don't know the difference), where you go and dance and eat and drink. My students said, "If you go to the fondas, don't bring anything with you, because you're leaving with nothing regardless," which is to say that there's more robbery than usual.

Oscar laughed and said, "Yeah, the students will be the ones to rob you," which I guess you could see as one aspect of living in an interconnected community.

Rodrigo, the film teacher who inexplicably speaks English, said, "Yeah, don't bring your wallet, rings, watch, camera, anything. And don't speak English, and don't be looking around all the time, try to blend in. In fact, in Playa Ancha [an often-colorful area on the other end of town] there's a fonda for university people. Just go to that one. Or go to the one in Vina! There, you can take pictures. In Playa Ancha, no no no."

The odds of my blending in with a crowd of Chileans are roughly zero, but it's good advice. Yesterday I had too much to drink at lunch and didn't make it out of the house, but today I'm planning to pace myself, so I'll visit the traditional celebrations and report back.

No comments:

Post a Comment