Today is a holiday in Chile. Being that there are so many holidays here, religious or otherwise, it’s hard to keep them all straight. When I asked my students last night which ‘dia feriado’ today was they told me it’s the Asuncion de la Virgen. They couldn’t offer any information other than the fact that none of them celebrate it. All I know is that it falls in the middle of the week and we get an obligatory day off of work so I’m happy enough with that. With the Fiestas Patrias (Chile’s nearly week-long Independence Day celebration) coming up too, I started thinking about how things have worked out for us on holidays here.
All three Christmases we’ve spent here were strange. It’s tough to get used to the Christmas in Summer, Southern Hemisphere thing. The first year (2009) we had just arrived and hadn’t met any friends yet so we went to a gringo bar uptown where they served good beers and Mexican (NACHOS!) – I called my family on Skype on my iPod touch with no video.
For our first wedding anniversary in October 2010 we decided to treat ourselves. We had been building our house for 5 months and were working as many classes as we could to make money to build the house. Working full-time in Santiago and coming out to the house every weekend was taking a toll on us though and we were barely bringing in enough money to make it through the month. I remember hubby constantly planning – every napkin was covered with lists, every writeable surface scrawled on with drawings and budgets. We were in a hurry to finish because we had told our landlord we would be moving out of the apartment in Santiago in late November. Our impatience to finish projects grew more unbearable as the weeks went on so by the time our anniversary rolled around we were beyond ready to have a celebration. A day before our anniversary we went to Easy (Chile’s version of Home Depot) to buy the windows for the house, a huge step at the time because it meant we got to take down the awful plastic window coverings we had been using. Unfortunately, in our haste to leave the store one of us (we will never know who, but fingers have been pointed…) lost the wad of cash (about $400.00 US, somebody had a good day at least) that we had been carrying around with us that day. It was the only money we had for the month. Out of nowhere, my husband’s parents deposited $50.00 bucks in my bank account so we were able to have Tex Mex at a nearby restaurant. Better than nothing for sure.
The following Christmas things were getting better. Even though the money situation was still tight we were making progress on the house and had somehow survived a couple months living on rice and soup packets.
We even got our Christmas presents early that year (2010).
Peter and Penny were a brother and sister pair of yellow Labradors we bought from someone who was breeding them. We had moved out to the house but I was still commuting to Santiago and living there three days a week to make money during the class-less summer months. My husband worked to finish the place while the pups ran circles around him, constantly getting into garbage and trouble. By garbage I mean the used toilet paper and other contents of the holes we had to dig as the bathroom was not yet functional yikes.
Our tree was a vast improvement from the previous year and thanks to a much-needed monetary gift from my Mom we ate well on Christmas Day. Christmas day also brought the gift of a working toilet.
On New Years Day Peter got sick with Parvovirus – an often-times deadly virus that afflicts puppies who haven’t been vaccinated properly. Since we bought the pups from someone we knew we thought they would have been vaccinated on time. Penny got sick about a week later. They both spent over a week hooked up to IV drips in the vet’s office and my husband visited twice a day, every day to check up on them (the vet was an hour away). Between the cost of gas and boarding the both of them we were in really bad shape by the end of January. Peter thankfully got better but by Valentines Day 2011 Penny had just died and we were stalled on building.
I felt like I was seeing a pattern.
P.S – thanks again Moms and Dads for the help when we were running low on money (and patience, and sanity, etc….) We could not have done it without you.