Las Fiestas Patrias

Happy Fiestas Patrias and Feliz Dieciocho to everyone!

This is a special time in Chile that is celebrated by everyone from the young to the old. Empanadas de Pino and asados (BBQ) suddenly become our staple foods, the nights grow longer and merrier to the sound of traditional music filling the air, and in general the people smile more.  The week of the 18th is filled across the nation with fondas and performances designed to unite the people to a common cause: Chile.  Houses facing the road are required by law to display the national flag (though it is debateable how this is enforced, if at all) and draping across schools, apartment buildings, shops and inside everyday homes there is blue, white and red crepe paper decorations, folded and scrunched into numerous designs.

Although this is a time to blast “La Consentida” and our love for all things Chilean, this is really a time for family. Over the last few days every Chileno I spoke to shared their plans for the big day, Dieciocho (18th September) and every single one of those plans involved long lunches with family and close friends, accompanied by alcohol (of course!). That is precisely on the itinerary for our day: a late lunch with Luis’ father’s family and probably alot of photo ‘attempts’ of Emilio wearing his elaborate huaso outfit (Emilio with a hat on? Are you having a laugh?!)

Last year we spent the morning at a street party near our house in Recoleta. At that time I’d been here only a few months with Emilio and I had felt more than a little ackward thanks to my lack of Spanish and my limited ability to cueca (it consisted of waving my right arm with a teatowel and nothing else). What I found refreshing – and still do – was that this was a day for everyone. The young and the old stood alongside the flaites and the middle class, those with money and those without – those bound together by nothing except their nationality. On this day the people laughed, danced and ate together in harmony, to the beat of Chile’s most uplifting accordians that blasted and rattled through ancient speakers so loudly that they became distorted remnants of a song. Luis, being the amazing dancer that he is (and show off!) danced a fabulous cueca and joined in all the games such as a tug of war. At these times I stood to the side and fumbled my way through various questions, the most prominent being “what IS that” (Emilio’s sippy cup) and “what is IN it?!” (water).





This year we are going to Luis’ father’s house for a late lunch, then we may see what is happening in Huechuraba. Tomorrow his brother is preparing a big party at home which will likely last all day and all night. If there is anything interesting I am sure I will blog about it! Keep safe everyone and enjoy your fiestas patrias!

See Luis cueca here:

An Introduction to Musica Latina

A post on The Chile Experience Facebook page about favorite songs has got me thinking about the most iconic music to come out of Chile. I have always listened to Latin Music, ever since I was about 12 and bought my first Ricky Martin CD then decided no more singing in English for me. This is a list of the must listen to songs that I can think of now, to introduce you to the musical wonders of Latin America, and the diverse spectrum of Latin Music.  By no means is this list extensive, it is just small slice of the amazingness that can be found here!


  1. La Constentida: Traditional Cueca song – its Fiestas Patrias after all!
  2. Todos Juntos by Los Jaivas
  3. El Verdadero by Tiro de Gracia
  4. Te Vas by Americo
  5. Buen Soldado by Francisca Valenzuela
  6. Quiero Ser Libre by Grupo La Noche
  7. Loca by Chico Trujillo
  8. Gracias por la Vida by Violetta Parra
  9. Canto Libre by Victor Jara
  10. Estrechez de Corazon by Los Prisoneros

Latin America:

  1. El Secreto by Plan B
  2. Gasolina by Daddy Yankee
  3. Ojala by Silvio Rodriguez
  4. Tic Tici Ta by Carrapicho
  5. Latin America by Calle 13
  6. Danza Kuduro by Don Omar
  7. Amor de Madre by Aventura
  8. Corazon sin Cara by Prince Royce
  9. Colgando en tus Manos by Carlos Baute
  10. Me Gustas Tu by Manu Chau
  11. La Vida es un Carrnival by Celia Cruz
  12. Fico Assim Sem Você by Adriana Calcanhotto.

NOTE: to be fair, Los Prisoneros deserve a post all of their own  – their music is wonderful and provides an interesting snapshot into Chile. Check out Corazones Rojos, to see how they captured and twisted the machista attitude. For another excellent song that seems more like a poem than a song, is “Mazurquica Modernica” by Violetta Parra. A must-listen!

A Volunteer Initiative

hoda9We are very happy because we have found our first benefactor! Prominent artist Hoda Madi has offered Organizacion Ojos Abiertos 20% from each piece of artwork sold. This is money – like all donations we may receive – that is purely directed towards buying materials or providing the transportation costs of guest speakers at the schools.  Thank you Hoda!

You can buy her artwork here:

If you would like to help us with any contributions, please contact me at:  We are in the process of legalizing and then setting up a foundation bank account with Banco Estado. We will provide to all contributors an email showing where the money has gone. We are not motivated by profit and we are all volunteers.