For New Year's Eve here in Chile, everyone goes all-out! None of this American philosophy of "draggin' the wagon until midnight finally hits." Oh my no! Most people here in Chile bring in the dawn, actually the morning. I have friends of ALL AGES who stay up EVERY YEAR until 8am, 9am or 10am bringing in the New Year. And unlike the USA, it doesn't always involve getting drunk or one night stands. People just love to celebrate here: dancing, eating, conversing, games, and MASKS. Oh wait, but I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's take it back a step.
First, it's tradition that the families have dinner together at around 9pm or 10pm, followed with conversing like parakeets for a good while. In the V region of Chile, all along the coast -- from Valparaíso to ConCon -- they have a massive fireworks show that sets off at a little past midnight. So, most families either make their way to the coast or they can see it from their houses to watch together. The fireworks don't go off at exactly at 12:00am because you have to have at least 5 minutes for the tradition of the "New Year Hug," where you hug everyone individually and wish them "A Happy New Year" ...and any other wishes or blessings you'd like to say. For a person who is affectionate, it's a magical way to wish in the new year. From there, most people under the age of 30 go out to party, whether it's at a friend's house, a club, a bar, a restaurant...etc. Eat, eat, dance, dance, laugh, laugh until the morning hours arrive.
This year, my dear husband and I decided not to give any Christmas presents, and we spent that money on the unforgettable experience of seeing the fireworks from the middle of the ocean. Yes, we dared to face the waves of PEOPLE, worse than NY Times Square I would argue. Absolute chaos, noises everywhere, running, yelling, squished like sardines, but totally worth it. Just to give you an idea: Usually, from our apartment to Valparaíso, it takes about 45 minutes in car. On New Year's Eve, anytime past 3pm in the afternoon, it would take us 3-4 hours of driving in car with all the traffic and people everywhere. It's that CRAZY!
So, after an hour of waiting, we finally boarded our boat. Aye aye, captain! There were 22 of us total -- 2 counting me & Pato, and then 20 members of the SAME family. Definitely odd men out. The main lady who was the "overseer" of the family had her buttock in our faces for the first 10 minutes, making sure that the "salads" and the "purple, black and grey backpacks" and the "entire family" was all present and accounted for. Me trying to be a lady, I did not tell her that her rear end made a better door than a window (but by golly, it almost slipped). OH, WAIT, IT GETS BETTER. We're in the middle of the ocean. It's 10pm at night. There's a breeze. Why would you board in shorts? Don't ask me. The overseer finally sits down in front of us, unbuckles the first button on her shorts, then looks at the both of us and states, "Hey guys, I am really cold, so I am going to change into my jeans." I was speechless and inept to respond, so Pato shocked as well replied, "Oooookay." She stood up once more, yanked down her shorts, (thankfully was not wearing a thong) and put on her jeans right there in front of us. Pato looked in the other direction like a classy gentleman, but I swear that my mandible went down further than any other anchor in the ocean that night. = No words! I don't care if you are rich, poor, or in the middle. Money does not equal class. This lady simply had no class. Me, trying to be understanding, patient and not judgmental, I thought to myself, "Be calm, Isabel, maybe it's a cultural thing. In the States this would never happen, but be patient. It's probably normal here in Chile. Breathe, honey, breathe." Only to find out 2 hours later from Pato that he also was just as appalled. NOT a Chilean thing at all.
[There was a disgusting adventure in the bathroom that night as well, but probably a bit too explicit to get into details here in on facebook. Let's just say that the toilet had ocean water that would spray upwards every 2 seconds to baptize any of its victims. Enough said. Use your imagination.]
Fast forward to midnight: It was breathtaking to be in the middle of the ocean, among some of the largest warships I've ever seen. The moon was playing peek-a-boo among the dark heavens and illuminated clouds. Suddenly, I hear all the ships go off in synchronization at 12:00am to announce the new year's arrival. It made me smile from ear to ear. It was like a choir of bass voices among the waves. Pato and I hugged each other and kissed a little to bring in our new year. And then of course, every family has the crazy uncle, so we got a few hugs from the slightly drunk uncle as well. AND THEN... the fireworks!! To see a vivid, colorful, creative display of fireworks from the middle of the ocean, with Valparaíso night life as the backdrop -- it will be an experience I always treasure of my first year of marriage.
That's how the cookie crumbles.
Who's down for bringing in 2016?