Tuesday, March 31, 2009


While our trip to Chillan hadn't been planned to coincide with Luz Eliana's birthday, our timing could not have been any better. A week after our arrival we found ourselves trotting out to Luz's childhood home in San Nicholas to celebrate her ___ birthday. Family (lots of it since Luz has 4 sisters and 3 brothers) and friends gathered for the festivities.

What transpired over the next 7 hours is hard to describe. We felt like we were in a movie of Chile in days gone by. Vegetables were growing in the yard, grapes were hanging from their vines up above and chickens were roaming everywhere. We met so many people, it was hard to keep track of names or relationships. Almost no one spoke English and we know little Spanish but that didn't stop anyone from talking to us.

We helped Luz prepare a less than traditional pizza for dinner, which was cooked in a very traditional outdoor wood fired oven. Other foods served were more traditional. We cooked, we ate, we drank, we ate, we drank, we ate! Just when you thought the eating and drinking part was over, more people would show up and more food and wine would be served. Birthday cake topped off a great meal.

But the end of the meal didn't signify the end of the party! First there was a pinata to break open which Luz's mom succeeded in doing with her one and only blow. Candy spilled out everywhere and the kids (and Luz's mom) scampered around to quickly collect it. Next the dancing. Luz's cousin Joel began a traditional Chilean "courting" dance (the "Cucea") while everyone stood around and clapped out the beat. Almost everyone took a turn dancing - even us gringos, some doing better than others.

It was a wonderful evening filled with flavor; we all had such a great time! As we travelled the world over the past 9 1/2 months, we have had the opportunity to see so many amazing sights. But we never had the opportunity to share in someone's culture so intimately as we did on this night. Luz's Chilean birthday party will be something that we will remember for the rest of our lives and will certainly be one of the highlights of our year around the world.

Feliz compleanos Luz y muchos gracia!


Anonymous said...

Feliz comleanos Luz!

Thanks for the great reporting, Shuster/Greenwells.
A bientot!

Sophia said...

That looks like it was worth the wait!!! What fun, let's have that kind of party when you get back :)