Never before had I been sung Happy Birthday in three different languages from a table full of homemade cakes and completos. The orange-walled house was bubbling with warmth from all the family and friends that came to wish me a feliz cumpleaños. The table in our house kept cycling through new people who came to wish me a great birthday, give me a kiss on the cheek and drop off a small present. My host mom had decorated my birthday with love and Feliz Cumpleaños!! signs around my room and around my house that only began to demonstrate how much she cared for me.
From the moment I woke up, as my host mom had told me the day before, we celebrated my birthday the Chilean way. That entails, as I soon learned, a yummy once (a small dinner, much like English tea time) with lots of tea, completos (the Chilean hot dog with avocado, tomato, and mayonnaise, or any combination of the three), and many many sweats hidden around the house. The people, at around 7 at night, arrive and sit and talk for many hours enjoying all the food my host mom kept cooking. The house was full of laughter, which is everything I ever wanted on my birthday. She cooked all day to celebrate with many people and share our house and my 18th birthday with so many people that matter to me and others that I did not even know but approached me with equal love. The amount of love I received on my birthday is inexplicable. It was truly beautiful, and I will be forever thankful for the unique experience I received on my 18th birthday.
This is my Chilean family on my birthday:
I think it's amazing that I was fortunate enough to be able to celebrate my 18th in a country where 18 means so much! I will remember this day for the rest of my life:)
Also my parents from the United States were able to join my Chilean family and friends!:
If you look you can see everyone has a cup ready for tea, my beautiful chocolate cake, small completos (they look like hotdogs) and so many small dulces (candies) that I still haven't finished eating!
It was a beautiful day- thank you to everyone who made it what it was.