"chingo glay, chingo glay" This is the catch prase of my awesome four year old neice! What does it mean? Well, if you heard it you would recognize it because she is actually singing Jingle Bells. As I commented once before, we have an abundance of cheesy american Christmas decorations and many of them sing in their tinny-electronic voices (in english). One of the favorites of my neice is a Santa Clause that sings Jingle Bells so she has learned the song pretty well. Sometimes we randomly burst out singing and dancing together and since it is the holiday season Jingle Bells has been a regular. :)
Anyway, there are tons of exciting holiday adventures to describe but I think I'll try to explain chronologically. Starting with Christmas. All month has been relatively festive with the lights and decorations and presents to buy and cards to write. But the intensive Christmas bustle started on the 23. All of the businesses give their employees a basket full of Christmas type food and a ticket for a turkey. Soooo I acompanied my parents to the special turkey pick up store and to buy last minute presents. The stores were CRAZY! People, people everywhere... and the traffic even worse! On the way home we were sitting about 8 blocks from the house without hope of moving so my neice and I got out of the car to go by foot. Adri is my little mini-me and likes to be called Chelan-cita and run :) So we made it home a good 10 or 15 minutes before the others. Yay for alternative transportation. haha Anyway, that night and a good part of the 24th we spent in the kitchen. Lasagna, roast beef, turkey, salads, pies, fudge, fruitcake, hot chocolate and more... The Christmas dinner can beat out Thanksgiving any day! And everything is made the long way too. For example, there is no canned spaghetti sauce in lasagna; we chop the tomatoes and garlic and onion and carrots and cook it all the day before. And we make the white alfredo sauce too. And THEN we alternate the two sauces with three types of cheese and noodles. I'm telling you, its a PROCESS! But it was fun to spend all the time cooking with my mom and everything turned out DELICIOUS!
So the 24th we finished up the kitchen and I helped wrap all the presents from my brother, sister and mom. Then around 6 we had kind of an early celebration with the three little ones. We took a billion pictures wrestling around in front of the Christmas tree and played with them until 8:30 or so. The sad thing is that all three of my neices and nephews had to go to their OTHER grandparents houses for the Christmas dinner. So I went with my brother and mom to drop off the twins and then we stopped by the store for last minute snacks and pop and icecream. Obviously we didn't have enough food already... jajajaja It was just five of us for the official dinner and with a family as huge as ours it felt a little bit lonely. So to make up for the lack of little kids or crazy cousins we went and bought fireworks! :) I was the baby for the evening and got to provide the entertainment swirling my sparklers and setting off the big bangs. haha it was my first experience with fireworks at Christmas and I must say it is a great addition! We had to wait until midnight to start the celebrations so we entertained ourselfs skyping with Alejandra in Canada, setting off a few early fireworks, and thinking about how hungry we were. Finally the clock struck 12 and we rushed out to the street to set off MORE fireworks and give everyone big hugs and shout feliz navidad. And it's hugs for everyone too. Family and random neighbors alike :) When we went back inside we opened all the presents and then moved on to dinner. I don't know if it was just because we were dying from hunger but the present opening went by really fast. Rip rip, "thankyou", hug, next. I'm a fan of the fast opening process because in my opinion the presents really aren't that important... and I wanted food :) But my family did really appreciate the cards that I wrote. I guess heartfelt cards aren't quite as common over here. When we finished the comercial aspect of Christmas we got to start the eatting aspect. mmmmm yum yum yum It was a bit comical how much food we had for just 5 people and when we finished you couldn't even tell that we had eatten. But believe me, I was STUFFED! So stuffed that I couldn't sleep and stayed up until 4 reading runners world. Tired but happy :)
Christmas morning Adri woke me up at 10 to open more presents. We repeated the whole process with the three little ones because they only opened half the night before. It was equally fast on the rip-rip scale but they were so overloaded with plastic junk that it took a while to get through the mountain of presents. Sorry, I don't mean to disgusted but 8 presents for each of the 2 year old twins JUST from their dad seems to be a bit much. Yeah, the rest of Christmas day was a blur of family. I spent a good three hours skyping with lovely Wenatchee folks and all the various aunts and uncles from Peru stopped by the house to visit too. It was literally an all day train of visitors with the last family coming around 12 and leaving at 2:30 am. Luckily they are my favorites and came with their six kids so we had lots of fun eatting and talking... So much fun that they came back the next day for almuerzo and then I spent the next night at their house. We played volleyball in the street, watched random youtube videos, sang songs with their guitar and stayed up talking until seven in the morning... Cousinssssssss :)
Next up on the list is NEW YEARS!!! It's 2011 and I can hardly believe it. 2010 was jam packed full of fun stuff and I can't quite decide if it passed really fast or really slowly. All I know is that I am going to seriously miss all of the wonderful friends and places and experiences from the past 365 days... Senior year of highschool, graduation, Peru and everything inbetween. Thank you to everyone who made it so special :) I hope that every January for the rest of my life I can feel this way... a little sad to say goodbye to the old year but looking forward with a smile at everything the new year is going to bring.
I'm going to explain my entire New Years weekend because it was super fun :) The 31st was my host dad's birthday so on the 30th we stayed up until 12 to wish him a happy birthday. The general tradition is that you sing happy birthday and eat cake at midnight but we did a little change up. We bought potatochips and pop and I made crepes instead. Extra special crepes with the recipe from my exchange friend from France ;) Neither of my sisters was going to celebrate- one at the beach and the other sleeping with my little neice- so we invited my uncles family to come celebrate instead. They showed up just before 12 and waited in the dark in the dining room to surprise my dad. And it worked!!! We ended up eatting and talking until 4 in the morning with all the cousins. We always play charades or other random games and laugh a TON! So at 4:30 I went to bed slightly exhausted and got up again the next morning to make a big breakfast for my dad. We went to the market and bought fresh cheese and tamales and bread and cooked lomo saltado. It's basically a stirfry of tomato, onion and steak with lots of really yummy spices... mmmmmmmmmm After stuffing myself to bursting with all the good food I decided that I should probably rest up to have energy for New Years Eve. So I went upstairs and took my very first siesta in Peru. I slept from 12 till 4:30!!! Woooooooooh! I got up to go for a run, eat birthday cake and at about seven I left for my friends house. From her house we got dressed for the evening and then went to her aunts house for dinner. The plan was to spend the evening with her aunts and uncles and cousins and then go to a "party" around 1. Obviously timing is a little different over here. Anyway, for all of you who know that I wear running shorts and a t-shirt whenever possible you will probably be slightly horrorized to hear that I wore a mini skirt. LOCO. jaja So we ate yet another big turkey dinner and at midnight went running out to the street to watch the fireworks. I thought Christmas was a ton of fireworks but it is NOTHING compared with New Years... All you can hear is boom, bang, crack and in every direction you see flames! There are lots of supersticious traditions for the New Year and one of them is quemando munecas. Basically think burning scarecrows stuffed full of paper and fireworks. 7 out of 10 houses on the block had a New Years doll blazing away in front of the house. The idea is that you burn everything from 2010 in order to make way from the new year. Some of the other traditions are to wear yellow underwear (yes I bought a pair), eat 12 grapes while sitting under the table (one for every month), throw 12 coins over your shoulder into the street (to make lots of money), take a bath with flower water (to have a sucessful love life), run around the block carrying a suitcase (to travel a lot), and I don't remember what else.
With my friend Valeria and her three cousins we went to our New Years party. Her parents dropped us off around 1:30 but we didn't start dancing until 3. So once again we were up late late late and got back to her house at 8 am after a quick stop to eat hamburgers :) The party was fun but there were a few too many drunk boys wanting to dance and speak English for my liking. Luckily Valerias cousin was our savior and would come ask us to dance if we gave him the look. hahahaha The next two days we spent at the beach playing volleyball, making sand castles, and of course swimming in the ocean. I put sunscreen on about 500 times and am quite proud of the fact that I didn't get burned... :) Valeria's family is kind of like my adopted host family and I am getting to know all of her cousins and aunts and uncles so that is fun too.
Basically to sum everything up I will say that the holiday season was great. Lots of staying up late, eatting big meals, having adventures with host cousins, and setting off fireworks. I really missed you guys and the snow and standard Christmas cookies but it's been fun to experience Peru!