I’ve thought a lot about what I should call this post. In the end I thought that clearly stating it was the best way, but below you’ll find that what I really wanted to call it was “My Third Time in Chile; or, an apology for spending childhood holidays abroad”. It was a bit too long…
I liked that title because there is something truly amazing about the first real trip you remember. This was it for me. I was only 9 (as you’ll see by the very awkward photos), I still liked to play dolls, I didn’t like sleeping away from home still and yet I was at the other end of the continent with my father. And it was relaxed. It was a family holiday, it was beach and grandparents and lots of good food and fun with my cousins. But it was immersed in a completely different culture!
It took a few years in between my trips to Chile because the year of my second trip my brother was born and when he was big enough, my dad took him to Chile. His first introduction to our father’s home country and our family abroad. How cute is he, seriously? Who knew that he would grow up to be so much taller than me!
Then I went back with my dad and I definitely have some clearer souvenirs about those days. About feeling a bit more self-conscious at how my grandmother called me her ‘reina’, how my cousins were so excited to see me, and how I first realised that my Spanish wasn’t that good – self consciousness really hits at that age.
It’s not like when you were children and language doesn’t really matter, when it’s not a barrier – this time we had problem communicating, which restricted the playing a little. But I still have souvenir with my cousin Karina – of being a child playing abroad and loving it!
My dad brought me around – we went to the Museum Araucano, dedicated to the Mapuche, the native people of the country. I fell in love with a language so innate to me and yet so distant. I fell in love with the palm trees and I fell in love with wearing shorts in February.
While in Temuco, I had a really cool exotic bahiana braid done, a Brasilian braiding technique. It took 40 minutes and my dad was kind enough to give the poor guy some more money than he was asking since my hair was longer than average! I was weird back then, so I insisted on keeping that braid on for exactly a year after that!
Back at my father’s village we’d often go to the River Chol Chol, to swim, but also boat! My dad spent his youth in that river – oh the stories he tells! We went out boating one day, in a tiny rowing boat. Karina and I loved it. But my dad tells a different story – he says we were both rowing in the same direction and therefore apparently going around in circle for a while. He let us figure it out of course.
Later on the family would have a massive bbq – or Asado as they say. Any excuse is good for them to make a good Asado – the welcoming of the family’s baby and his daughter was a good one. The whole family showed up and the menu was sausages, horse and beef. I wonder why I don’t eat any red meat now…
We spent so much time by the beach. I’m pretty sure I still have the same face here as I used to have when I was 3-4 years old the last time. The closest beach to my father’s village is Puerto Saavedra, where my grandparents used to have a little cabin. It’s the same volcanic beach as last trip. I’ve known that beach many many times.
Here we are pictured at Lago Budi, a salt lake near the ocean at Puerto Saavedra. Look at the rocks? Couldn’t be that comfortable, but we were having fun. I love how really low maintenance we are as children!
Finally, as most trip ends, we went in the south, near Pucon. We went to the hot springs of Palguin, near the volcano, where many spas and retreats offer pools with the heated water from under the volcano. My dad would even go dip himself in the cold river and then come jump in the pool!
It’s a bit of a bittersweet trip because I think it was the last time I saw my grandfather. He passed away a year or two later. I greedily keep the last photo I have of him eating monstrously large oysters and love to look at the old photos of him and me when I was a child and love to imagine what he would have thought of me as a Masters student, etc. I think we would have gotten along great!
But also it makes me thankful that my parents took me on these trips as a child. I mean I was definitely the only kid of my class who was spending spring break in South America on an adventure!
What is the first big family moment you remember?xx