Fiestas Patrias: A week-long celebration of Chilean independence.

In mid-September Chile takes a week to celebrate their independence.  Schools are closed and many businesses are shuttered for a couple days while folks spend time around the barbecue (quincho) with friends or at fairs (ramadas) downtown.  Every town erects a huge tent to house a collection of temporary businesses offering food, drink or a chance to win a stuffed pony at the ring toss.  There are bands, traditional dancing, mechanical bulls, taca-taca (or foosball) and people doing acrobatic things using fabric hanging from trees (Dylan tells me it is called 'silks').  Basically, everyone comes out and celebrates spring.  Our week was rather casual: sleeping in, going for long walks, food with friends.  No major travel.  Just time together as a family, which I think is the Chilean thing to do.

Having watched a few seasons of "Project Runway" the team has gotten quite excited about the idea of making or maybe modifying our own clothes.  This invoked the purchase of a 1970's, rock solid Singer sewing machine that has been transformed in some strange Frankenstein-like ways from an american 120v, flip-out, table-mounted machine to a stand-alone 220v machine with a custom wooden stand and new motor bolted onto the back like a side-car.  This also invoked the creating of a custom made body-form that Cana built by buying an old nightgown and having us wrap her in masking tape like a fashionista mummy.  She then squirmed out of it and stuffed it with shredded denim (yes, you can buy that here...not sure what for).  Now she has a platform from which to design a whole new wardrobe or initiate a novel fashion movement.

There were a couple expeditions to the hills behind the university involving creative bushwhacking and pleasant strolls along roads connecting pine and eucalyptus plantations.  This gave us time to reflect on new Chilean wonders including the abundance of finger-long iridescent blue-black wasps outfitted with neon orange antennae that hunt and kill tarantula-like hairy spiders.  The wasps drag the comatose spiders into their homes (underground nests dug into weathered granite) and implant their eggs in the still-living spider body/incubator.  The baby wasps devour the rest of the spider as they mature and emerge hungry for more.   I'm not sure this video is exactly the same species we've seen Chile, but it is some kind of similar interaction.


(Our Victim...cute)

(The Challenger...with kill)

(Close-up of sleepy spider)

For the most part, our walks were relaxed strolls, but occasionally we got caught up in a feisty game of whack-bat in which a flaming pine cone is hit around among friends.  Fun and dangerous.  I only let go of the bat (stick) once.  The whole thing was Cana's idea.  The camera reveals that we make strange faces when we swing.




And then there was the walking.  Beautiful roads through rolling hills.  I wish I had a bike to roll around on!  For the first time in my life I am encountering underbrush (in this case Bamboo) that is too think to walk through.  It is literally impossible to work your way through (or over). The closest was some crazy manzanita shrubs in the San Gabriel mountains but this stuff is like walking through a net.  Beautiful but slow going.  Time to buy a machete?  The tower is Mirador Aleman.  A common starting point in Parque Ecuador.


Yes, Wells is twerking.


The ladies also got excited about using found objects to spruce up their doos, including eucalyptus stiffeners in vertical ponytails and pine cone filler to bulk up beehives and pigtails.  We had a small 'America's Next Top Model' photoshoot on the fireroad.  Smize.

Further down the road we discovered a place where a vertical roadcut made a great place to run up onto.  You just run down the road, hop the drainage ditch and get a few foot-plants on the wall before dropping back to the ground.  Pure hooligan fun, trailside.