a South American Thanksgiving
11.23.2010 - 11.25.2010
I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! In case you were worried about me missing out on all the delicious food, worry no more; we brought the holiday to Chile. Yesterday, my friends Madeline, Erica, and I went to Abby's house to prepare all the fixings for her family. None of us had actually cooked a Thanksgiving meal before, and Chile is lacking in a few essential ingredients, but with a little ingenuity we came up with a pretty delicious spread. The prep took a lot less time than I had expected, especially considering we only had one tiny oven; it was helped along by Christmas music streaming on Kansas City online radio. Along with a lemon-and-cognac soaked turkey, we made an apple and blueberry cobbler, sweet potato casserole, broccoli-rice-cheese casserole, and of course pumpkin pie. I also made an attempt at my mom's pie cookie, which turned into an empanada but was still delicious. It all came out wonderful, but not without a few hiccups:
- Abby's mom, Rosie, didn't have anything to inject the turkey with, so we had to pick up a needle from the pharmacy.
- Ovens here are just fire, without specific temperatures, so cooking was pretty much guess-and-check.
- Rosie had to be convinced multiple times that we weren't ruining the meal by not dumping pounds of salt on everything. "Oh...I see you bought butter without salt. Hmm."
- We read the instructions wrong and cooked the broccoli and the rice before making the casserole even though we were supposed to bake it all together.
- Brown sugar is non-existent so anything that called for it go brown sugar flavored oatmeal.
- We had to use something even more artificial than Cheese Wiz for the broccoli and rice to fill in for cheddar.
- Chileans love of desserts does not include pie, so we had to go with a quiche crust that made the pumpkin pie a little flakier and saltier than is normally desired.
Still, things went pretty smoothly and after just four hours we were sitting at the table with Abby's mom, dad, and sister, each sharing what we were thankful for. Needless to say, it was a strange Thanksgiving, what with conversation in Spanish, everyone dressed in summer clothes, and the lack of any actual relatives, but it was really a wonderful day with great friends and definitely a holiday that will stick out. I hadn't really thought about doing anything to celebrate Thanksgiving here, but I'm really glad something came together and I didn't have to wait another year for that warm fuzzy feeling that comes with.
After filling our hearts even more with a viewing of Love Actually, things took a bit of a frightening turn. Waiting for the first of two buses home, we kept joking about how we wished someone would be nice and stop to give us a ride, especially because a bus was broken down nearby and the driver was just sitting staring at us. Careful what you wish for: some random man stopped to offer to take us home and was pretty insistent. After getting him to drive away, we hop on bus number two excited that it had come at all (the 427 is a pretty unreliable friend) only to find ourselves seated close to a swaggering kid with hood up and bloody arms. Yep, cuts and blood all over his arms. There was one other man close to us, but when he got off we made a dash past the kid hoping to not get stabbed on the way. He stumbled towards another person and had something silver in his hand; it was probably his keys but at the time my imagination was running wild and I was sure it was a knife, so we darted all the way up to the bus driver's side. Terrified of the man getting off with one of us, we decided to get off early and wait for the next bus together, even though it was almost one and we weren't sure if the bus we were on was the last one for the night. The boy was probably not dangerous (Madeline's parents were mainly concerned that we weren't trying to help the boy get medical attention), but we were both really scared and decided that it was the perfect opportunity to use the better-safe-than-sorry strategy.
We got lucky and another bus came right before one. I entered my apartment, shaken up and full of adrenaline, only to find exactly the surprise I needed to keep the nightmares away: Magaly had decorated the entire place for Christmas. There's a tree in the middle of the room, the walls and tables are covered with Santas, and two new Christmas stuffed animals have been found a home in my room. So, aside from the scariest moment of my life in Santiago, yesterday was really really great.
Thursday was also my last day of class. My final presentation consisted of a puppet show, so no complaints there. True to Chilean style, I won't receive my grades until March.
Tuesday night my friends Allison, Erica, Abby, and Madeline and I dressed up for a fancy pizza dinner to celebrate our last night together as a group. I got really lucky meeting those girls, and it's sad and strange to think about returning to completely different lives in the United States. The silver lining is that now I have new reasons to visit Michigan, Tennessee, Kansas, Pennsylvania, and Georgia.
Erica and I have been meaning to climb Cerro San Cristobal for months now. It's one of the most famous things in the city, but we somehow managed to avoid it until Wednesday. You can take a funicular up to the top, but we decided to hike it instead (and also were unable to find said funicular). At the top of the hill is a giant statue of the Virgin Mary (that glows at night) and a view of the entire city. It's best to go following rain because the smog is all cleared up, but we are running out of time so we had to settle for a less-than-clear view of dear Santiago. I personally prefer Cerro Santa Lucia (which I climbed my first week here), but I couldn't have left satisfied without conquering San Cristobal.
And in case you didn't know, my mother has arrived safe and sound! She was originally going to fly through Dallas, but that flight was delayed so she got rerouted through Atlanta and arrived at 7:50 this morning instead of 6:20. My host mom and I picked her up from the airport, whisked her home for a breakfast of ham, bread, and cake, and tucked her in for a nap before lunch. I'll show her the city today, with my program's final dinner tonight, and then tomorrow we start our travels! She'll be home on the morning of Friday the 10th, which is also probably the next time I'll be able to blog. So expect a long one!