In Chile, Christmas is celebrated on the 24th December, not the 25th. It's called Nochebuena. The general shindig that happens is the family goes to a mass, then returns home to eat a special dinner and open presents. Santa Claus is more a western tradition. He didn't visit my house, but I am sure that in a few younger families he does visit.
In my family, we helped in the afternoon prepare the food. Salad, this potato thing that was sliced pototatoes cooked in the oven with cream and cheese on top, and a meat casserolle. (I must say, I am having cravings for a huge Christmas ham right now!) The food was all prepared when we went to a mass, at 10pm. The mass was a bit long, but I got distraced by the adorable Chilean kids dressed in pretty dress (occaissonaly with angel wings) that buzzed around the church. Kids don't want to sit still for 1 1/2 hours.
When we got home, the food was nearly finished, and we ate. Oh, and opened a bottle of Champagne. Champagne with pineapple ice cream. Even my host sister of 14 years had a glass. After the meal, it was straight to openening the presents. I got some nice presents, my favourite of which was a scrapbook my other host sister made for me, of photos and memories of my year in Chile, with two CDs of songs. After all the present opening and talking, we went to bed at 4am.
The week leading up to New Year also passed extremely fast. On the 26th was the birthday party of Krista's host sister. Great party. Didn't know a lot of the people but made some new friends. Then on the 28th we met up with the some of the same people from the party for a tequila night. Why do they put worms in tequila?
New Year in Chile was epic. Again it is celebrated on the day before. The same thing - dinner, champagne. But this time, instead of going to a mass, we went to see the firework show. Once we returned to the house, I was so tired I actually went to bed. For one hour, because at 1.30am, a friend phoned to say she was outside my house. I slowly got up, changed clothes and put on make up, then went outside and we waited for other friends to arrive. At 2am, we walked down the road to the biggest, craziest New Years party in the world. I was there until 7.30am. Basically all of the youth in Copiapó that can go to this party, go to this party. There are three stages, one VIP (no thanks), one general taste - reggaeton, cumbia and a pisque of electronic, and one electronic stage. We arrived and everyone greeted a million people, it was crazy. Then the dancing, dancing for 5 hours... yup. It was an epic party.
So that's pretty much whats that happs here in Copiapó.
My bus to Santiago leaves at 21.15 on the 10th of January. I arrive there at 8.05am on the 11 January.
My flight to Auckland leaves at 23.10 on the 11th January. I arrive there at 4am on the 13 January.
My flight to my own city departs at 7.10am on the 13th January. I arrive there at 7.50am on the 13 January.
Those are the dates that I never wanted to know. I might have been so homesick at the start of my exchange, I still remember when I had spent a week in Chile and one year seemed like such a long stretch of time to be away from home. But I knew I was returning home. I don't know when I'll come back to Chile. It's indefinite. I want to stay, at least for the summer. Even in these last few weeks I have made so many new friends and have spent every day doing something fun and different, with new friends and old ones. To suddenly be separated from those friends, and the family that I love, will be, definitely, the hardest thing I will have to do in my life. But like we say here 'así es la vida'.