Santiago & Las Fiestas Patrias!

¡Oyeee, Chileans sure know how to have a good time!  These past two weekends were brimming with good friends, good food, drinks, dancing, and more family than I will ever be able to remember the names of. 
Before the fun began however, my group and I shared a somber moment last weekend in Santiago at the Museo de la Memoria, a large glass museum dedicated to the lives of those "disappeared"(killed) under the regime of military dictator Augusto Pinochet.  The museum conveyed its somber message through several forms of media through which the viewer could envision the fear, poverty, and anger experienced after the coup-de-tat in 1973.  There were photos, newspaper clippings, videos, posters, and objects arranged chronologically as we progressed through the building. 
At the end of our tour we reached a small glass room lit with faux-candles, on the other side of which was an enormous wall peppered with faces of the missing.  Identities lost in time were marked with a pure black or white space.
 The entire experience was a powerful one: given Chile's dark history, the deep fervor for social justice in this country both then and today are clear.  The museum demonstrated that Chile seeks to preserve its collective memory 40 years after the coup, aiming to teach those who did not live it.
We left the museum in a sullen mood from the subject, but later brightened as we arrived at our hostel for the night, La Princesa Insolente.  I had never stayed in a hostel before, and was surprised to find that we were to stay in a seven-bed room with several strangers.  However, the hostel was brightly-colored and clean enough to serve us well for the night. 
The following day we explored a little of Santiago, mostly clothing stores and coffee shops.  I will need to go back!  After our short visit however, I am so glad to live in Valparaiso:  the big city lacks the familiarity and charm of my host city.
Tuesday as a group we learned to dance the cueca, the national dance of Chile.  It came in handy, because that night began las Fiestas Patrias, Chile's seven-day independence day fiesta.
That night I ventured to Las Ramadas in Valparaiso with my host sister and her friends, which looked like a county fair equipped with games, food, shops, and places to dance.  And we danced the night away!
The next few days were dedicated to a number of asados, whole-family barbecues.  More food, family, and dance!


 Gorgeous view from my tia's house:

 Host sista, mama, brother

 Host mama's birthday!

It's such a different experience for me to live with a big family-- it's just my parents and I at home!  But I'm loving it.  This weekend we have plans to visit La Serena, a beautiful beach town!  Hasta pronto!


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