Our trip to Chile was nothing short of AWESOME! The best trip I have had to Chile in a while. We saw a lot of family and friends. Everybody was happy, healthy, and very excited to be together. WE LOVE EACH OTHER, YOU GUYS!
The kids are at the age were they can interact with people without (many) meltdowns or conflicts, so they had a blast! Every morning they would wake up and immediately go out to play. No need for snuggles, which was a little sad for me.
The weather was beautiful. It was summer over there so Christmas day was a 100 degrees – bbq- swimming pool affair. Most of the time we stayed in Santiago, at my mom’s house, but we also traveled north, to my brother’s beach house, for a couple of days.
Here are my 10 favorite highlights of our trip.
1) Reconnect with family and friends
This is an obvious one! Of course it was nice to reconnect! Thanks to SM and Whatsapp, I am well informed about what my family and friends are doing at all times. We have the type of chats that get hundreds of messages a day with every detail of our lives, but is not the same as living together. The good news is that I am all caught up with news and gossip by the time I get to Chile, so I can dive into the daily subjects with no formal introductions.
My close family and friends are pretty amazing. All of them strong, smart, and funny people doing a lot of cool stuff. Each one of them is such a force. The two weeks in Chile were filled with conversations, laughter, and lots of love.
My younger brother (quite the hunk, ah?) with his daughter.
My mom, my nephew, and my niece.All the younger cousins. Look at how happy they are.
2) My dad’s burial
It was hard to say goodbye to my dad again, but it was also beautiful. You see, not everything about death is ugly and sad. There is something magical about the community that grows around you when loss happens. My siblings and I have never been closer.
We buried my dad next to his parents and sister. They all died many, many years ago. I didn’t meet any of them. The ceremony was short. Some of my siblings gave speeches, somebody played the guitar, it was a nice morning.
George with my older sister, Luchi.
My Irish twin, CocoThis guy not being able to act with the solemnity required by the event.
After the burial, we went for lunch to a nice restaurant. Many people joined us: aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, etc… it was a nice afternoon that ended with a cable car trip to the top of the hill. The kids loved riding the cars and the view was gorgeous. Although, waiting 20 minutes in a long line under the sun to go into a cable car wasn’t great, it was definitely worth it.
Me and my sisters. Yes, I am two feet taller than all of them and no, I am not adopted.Look at that cutie.Real paletasCable car
3) My older brother got married
The wedding was a private and small affair. My brother and his wife told us about their marriage two weeks before our trip to Chile. They rented the second floor of a restaurant, gathered their closest family members and got hitched. No band, no fancy dress , no months of preparation, just an intimate and stress-free event for everybody involved. I liked the concept. As I mentioned in this post, my chilean family is all about frugality right now, which makes me proud.
This wedding was a perfect way of ending 2016. Now we can’t say that this year was all that bad, can we?
4) Exposing my kids to a different culture
I live in LA so my kids are constantly witnessing different cultures, but going to Chile is different. Over there they actually live it.
In LA, my kids don’t get socially challenged that much because their surroundings are pretty controlled – school, small family with only two kids, adult supervised activities, etc. In Chile, things are not so structured. People are on your face constantly and you better get used to it or you won’t be having any fun. Activities are disorganized and involve a lot of yelling and craziness. I like my kids to be out of their comfort zone and fend for themselves. It makes them savvy at dealing with frustration!
Fray Jorge National Park
5) Heated debates
My family likes long and heated discussions about what we “think” are important topics. In these discussions, it is hard to listen to each other, much less reason any logical outcome. We fight and we make up. We treat each other harshly but don’t take it personally. We say what we think. Our opinions about the other don’t stay silent, and if we are mad we talk about it pretty openly. I like that dynamic, but it is not easy to swallow for newcomers. We scream a lot.
Here is a funny example: one day I was sent out to buy fish. I went to the grocery store and bought the fish. 3 hours later one of my sisters gave me grief about the quantity and amount of money I had spent on that fish. Then my brothers jumped in and gave me more grief because they didn’t know how to cook the fish (how am I guilty of that?). I defended myself and yelled back. I didn’t make the decision about how much fish to buy, that was my sister Maureen’s decision, but she was having a nap so nobody could give her s**t. The topic of the fish went on for 2 hours until Maureen woke up from her nap and came into the kitchen, at which point we all yelled at her for being responsible for this big quantity of fish that cost so much money. She looked at us and gave us the middle finger. Conversation over. And this is how debates go in my family. Conflict / Conflict resolves / Conflict / Conflict resolves… over and over again.
My older brother (same one that got married) has a house right in front of the beach in Tongoy, a beach city in the north of Chile. We stayed in his house a couple of days with the whole family. Being there reminded me to my own vacations when I was little. My dad loved going to the north of Chile. It was his birthplace.
In Tongoy, we spent all day at the beach, playing in the sand, eating seafood, or visiting the farmer’s market. They were quiet days. There is not many people at the beach during the Holidays, so it is the best time to visit. The water was warm and clean. Some days were cold but still enjoyable. Kids got to see a lot of sea animals, we watched beautiful sunsets, and stayed up a couple of nights. I organized a children-dance party that was pretty successful. I wish I had videos of all the kids dancing in the living room for hours on end.
Palmeras. A beach delicatessen.
Exploring the sea.
Chilean food is SO good. Fruits during the summer are the best ones you could ever eat. Seafood at the beach is fresh and tasty… everything seems to be taken right from the ground and into your plate. I like that my family is eating healthy now (no sugar, no processed foods). Every time I go to Chile I gain an average of 5 pounds because of so much eating and drinking, but this time, I didn’t gain any weight. It was a first one for me. I felt more energetic and happy throughout the trip and didn’t have to get back to LA in full diet mode.
Christmas traditions in Chile are different depending on the family. In our family, kids open gifts on Christmas Eve. They wait for “midnight,” and go out looking for Santa Claus while some adults stay behind to place the gifts under the tree. I like this tradition: all the kids go around the block screaming at every light in the sky, believing that it is Santa
This Christmas was particularly exciting because when we went out into the street, we ACTUALLY SAW SANTA!!! It was incredible. A cart with Santa happened to drive through our street giving away candy at the exact moment we left the house. Let’s stop for a second here. Can you imagine how exhilarated the kids were at seeing Santa outside our home!!!! ?? It was amazing. After eating some candy and waving goodbye to Santa, we went back inside to find the presents under the tree. I wish I had photos of this moment but the kids jumped fast to open their gifts and torn the paper apart in a matter of seconds. There were only 3 gifts per kid. The reason why is here.
You must be asking yourself, how could you wait until midnight to open the presents??!!! Which normal parent could let their kids stay that late? Well, in Chile, tricking kids is not out of the question so we pretended it was midnight when in reality it was 9:30pm. Because it is summer time over there, it gets dark late, and the kids go to bed late too, so this schedule was not that crazy.
As for Christmas day, we spent it in the swimming pool, eating bbq, and having drinks. Heaven.
Searching for santa
9) Dancing until 4 0‘clock in the morning
Every party in Chile requires dancing. In New Year’s Eve we danced until 4 am. It was only us, our significant others, plus a friend. We had the best dancing party I have been to in the last 10 years. We sang and danced like there was no tomorrow while kids slept. Here is the proof:
10) I heard “I love you” a lot
My family is not afraid nor scared to say I love you. Every time I go to Chile I hear “te quiero” over and over again. Incredibly enough, my brothers are the ones that say it the most. Every hug goes together with a casual or heartfelt “I love you,” because we feel it, so why not say it? I am making this a new trend and will be saying “I love you” to all my friends from now on, because it warmth people’s heart, don’t you think?
I came back from this trip with a rejuvenated soul.
Ok. That was a long post. I hope you liked it!