I spent this Christmas without snow, a fireplace, sister´s cookies, and the family. It was of course a little triste, but in 90 degree weather it really didnt feel like the holiday let alone december. Unlike the weather, crowded malls seems to be a universal sign of xmas .... Ah! I did all my shopping with the other exchange students in LA (three girls...!)- can you imagine the day in the mall. I do however have to give Chileans credit for their practical wrapping system. Instead working your fingers wrapping oddly shaped presents like cross country skis, every street corner down town is equiped with a wrapping stand and you can have all your wrapping done for less than a dollar. With everything nicely and professionaly wrapped ,we headed to Santiago, however this time we made a new record for the latest departure and arrival times- 11pm- 4am....k loco! Chileans celebrate Christmas a little differently than we are accustomed becuase all the festivities take place on xmas eve. First we had dinner, which consisted of turkey, rice, salmon and more. They had me prepare another stuffing to acompany the bird, but this time my dad tossed in lots of blue berries and plums so in the end it was bright purple- nonetheless tasty. We finished dinner at around a around 11:45 and once the clock struck 12 we gathered around the tree to share presents. The tradition is to run out side to look for santa at 12 and when everyone comes back inside the tree is full of presents!! I received some tight, but tight underwear, a few tshirts, and a DVD of a chilean band called Los Jaivas preforming live at machu pichu- coool. And after all this I went out to a party with my host siblings until the wee hours of the night. It was a little strange becuase we slept nearly the entire day the 25th.
New Years lasts just about the entire night as well. We left the house at around 10:30 to go to a family friends house for dinner. We were with about 4 other familes and it seemed more or less like the parties held at the McCurdy household, but with a few new traditions. For some reason your supposed to wear yellow underwear on new years? By coincidence I was wearing my yellow boxers with hotdogs on them so I was safe there. Next, I was given a piece of paper and told to write down all the bad things I had done during the year of 2008. Now, I thought we were going to read these out loud or something so I wrote things like, "didnt make my bed all the time" and "got home after curfew, once"... but in the end what we did was fill this paper mache, scare crow looking puppet´s head with all our wrongdoings and when the clock struck 12 we burned him out side. Apparently this is a common tradition in Ecuador. Next, we all ate a spoon full of cold, unseasoned lentils- I have no idea why. This was followed by taking turns running around the house with an empty suitcase- which is to ensure you safe travels. I want to do thse all next year. At around 2 all the kids and I went out to this huge fiesta called La Tranka. There I saw just about everyone I´d met in Chile thus far. Classmates, the other exchange students, nieghbors, people I had met in the gym... it was a good time. And I got home this morning at good time to eat breakfast... Tomorrow I´m going to Chillan¡