Under an azure sky and the shade of a tree line, the grill brigade smoked meat while little ones kicked balls or played in the clearing. Horses watched from their stalls as families and friends dressed in riding boots and sandals, soccer shirts and sun dresses, ponchos and polos talked, laughed, and ate...then ate again.
Parents paused to chase young children or cheer on older ones who lunged in burlap sacks toward the finish line. When the Chilean flag was presented, all stopped for the singing of the national anthem. At sunset, the dj called couples to dance in the grass, first the cueca, then cumbia. Dark descended and someone offered his oldest friend a final Chilean Independence Day tradition, wine served in a honeydew melon.
So went the 2011 Chilean Independence Day Celebration at the home of Jerry and Denise Gonzalez. On Saturday, September 17, Middle Tennessee Chileans and their friends and family gathered for the second year on a horse farm located outside Murfreesboro to pay homage to the past, specifically the South American country’s liberation from Spain, while fully enjoying the present.
Co-organizers Patricia and Cristina Bonacic made everyone feel welcome, serving up smiles and empanadas (the best I’ve ever had) made by Eliana Valdes. Organizer Pablo Bodini was pleased with the outcome:
I loved the participation in the games, dancing, and contests...the integration as everyone enjoyed the music and took part.Cindy Loyola Kershaw, who performed live, said of the day:
Cindy's dad, Jose Loyola, explained why the Independence Day celebration was special to him:My favorite part was the adult ensacado, where they race with the sacks. It was hilarious watching Nestor (my brother) struggling to not jump out of the sack while at the same time trying to keep his Chupalla on (the straw hat). I also really enjoyed the mini concert we gave as a remembrance of good Chilean artists. Although we had several technical difficulties, we honored our group name, Las Siempre Dignas (vaguely translated as the girls ever worthy of pride) jajaja. My husband's favorite part was the food.
Chileans love to grill meat outdoors. I grew up around horses, so to go to a party on a horse farm in the middle of the country where there is music and dancing... that’s the real tradition.Loyola and his dance partner, Cecilia Rodrigues, won the cueca competion. He explained that the National Dance of Chile imitates three stages of courtship leading to love between a huaso, a Chilean “cowboy,” and the woman he pursues. In the universal ritual, men steadily woo while women play it coy…until they are ready to be caught. The couples then dance with joy.
But on that Saturday, the dancers weren't the only ones who left joyful. Tents came down, chairs and tables were folded, and children were carried to cars, where they slept in back seats as tired but happy parents drove home.
Thanks to Constanza Zurita, a talented young photographer, who provided the first seven pictures in this article.