Tag Archives: Christmas

Merry Christmas!

25 Dec

On the path to the San Francisco glacier

We spent Christmas Eve hiking up in the Cajon Del Maipo (more about that in a future post) and grilling up another delicious steak.

Incidentally, I discovered where Santiago has been hiding its Christmas Spirit.  It was alive and well all along at an enormous mall in Las Condes.   I made a mad dash there late on the 23rd in an attempt to replace the fleece that I lost in Valpariaso, and the instant I entered the doors I was awash in the sparkling lights, heaps of cotton snow, and holiday consumerism that is typical of home.

I managed to get my fleece and get out without being sucked in by the appropriately extravagant window displays, which seemed to scream “Ashley! You totally need a new summer dress!!!”.  I did, however, stick around long enough to see Santa in his rightful place – a giant throne, surrounded by lovely elves in very short skirts.

On the walk back to the subway I cranked up the Christmas mix on my iPod, and the irony of listening to “Baby It’s Cold Outside” while wondering if I had applied enough sunscreen to prevent yet another sunburn, did not escape me.

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Feliz Navidad?

23 Dec

In the USA, decorating for the holidays starts so early that you have to be living under a rock somewhere to not realize what time of year it is.  Cities have begun to put decorations on public streets earlier and earlier, while holiday music creeps into the background before the first snowfall in the northern states.

I am a true Colorado girl and it takes a certain mix of signals, including snow, egg nog and lots of blinking lights, to really get me in the Christmas spirit.  Here in Santiago?  Well, let’s just say I keep forgetting it’s even December.

First off, there’s blazing sunshine and sweltering heat every day.

Christmas spirit in the Santiago cemetery

Second, there are no trees.  Christmas trees I mean.  Even in NYC there were makeshift stands lined up along the Avenues starting as early as mid-November.  Practically anywhere with a small patch of floor space, be it an office building lobby, the supermarket, or the deli on the corner of 16th and 6th Ave, would have a tree up no later than the first week of December.  Interestingly enough, we saw quite a few miniature trees all decorated up during our trip to the main cemetery here in Santiago earlier this week.

Third, the traditional decorations are few and far between.  I’m used to seeing storefronts dripping with tinsel, lights and elaborate window displays. Storefronts that demand you spend your precious holiday dollars with them because they have exactly what you need and you can’t get it anywhere else.  Here? Well, every once in a while we see a paper Santa face (circa 1976) hung in a window.  In Valparaiso we were eating in a little restaurant and it took us the better part of an hour to notice the one solitary Christmas bulb hanging by a pathetic strand of garland at the top of the window.

I don’t mean to say there is NO holiday spirit to be seen in Santiago, I mean Chile is officially a Catholic country and Christmas is a national holiday here.  We have seen wrapping paper for sale in a few places, there was a display of decorations available for purchase at a local market, and we heard the Spanish version of ‘Walking in a Winter Wonderland’ at the supermarket a week ago.  It’s just that our senses haven’t been assaulted with holiday cheer like they would be at home.

We have, however, seen Santa in a few surprising places.

Santa decorations were spotted in Lima, Peru at the very beginning of November!

It's too hot for reindeer in Valparaiso, so Santa rides the boat like the rest of us.

The economic downturn has apparently extended it's reach to the North Pole as evidenced by the fact that Santa is moonlighting with Groupon to help pad his income.

How will we be spending our Christmas?  Since most everything will be closed, we’ll be cooking at home (helllloooo grilled pork tenderloin with homemade mango and apple chutney…and this, recipe is at the end of the post), sampling a traditional Chilean holiday drink called Cola de Mono (kind of like a White Russian, or a Mudslide), skyping with family, and watching the season finale of Dexter online.

Happy Holidays, wherever you may be!

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