Copiapó is a relatively small city quietly nestling between the arid mountains of Atacama. It is as arid and dry as it can get. It’s a mining town and is supposedly one of the most expensive yet ugliest in Chile. Ugly is a strong word, I thought. I’ve yet to form a solid opinion on it as I’ve only seen a portion and so far it only reminded me of my hometown (Batangas, Philippines) in its former days.


Chile is an exciting place to be in come September. The Chilean Independence may be officially declared and thus celebrated on the 18th but the locals beg to differ as the festivities have well and truly begun early this week. And boy, do the Chileans mean business when it comes to Fiestas Patrias.

My school, for example, has already taken upon the challenge of completing a hundred Cuecas, their traditional dance, yesterday. It was massively entertaining seeing the little boys and girls strut their stuff until it got a bit tedious and exhausting after twenty or so rounds. Of course I joined the fun and had a go, and it was mediocre to say the least. I’ve yet to take Cueca lessons, nay, find the Chilean rhythm in my body. I also felt like a novelty item throughout the event as the students simultaneously threw compliments and made fun of me in my huasa outfit. Cool points I was so desperate to have were definitely out the window. To top it off, my host mum also insisted I wore pigtails, in an attempt to get the Chilean look which I was far from achieving… nonetheless it made it all the more interesting and a day to remember.

The run up to the national day also entails a lot of their delicacies being introduced to the ignorant foreigner that is me. As someone who is hungry for culture and literally hungry all the time, it is not surprising that I’ve been shoving all kinds of dessert and empanadas in my mouth ever since. I’ve grown fond of their desserts here which has mainly manjar in it. Everything with this genius mix of milk and sugar in it tastes like heaven and I’ve been consuming it pretty much on a daily basis which is becoming worrying. There is an impending void that I won’t be able to fill once I’m back in England, but it is too late to restrain myself.


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