Wow, it’s our 10th episode! Today, we’re gabbing about Chile’s favorite holiday, Fiestas Patrias. Will Paige dance the Cueca? Where is Mariah headed to celebrate? Is Independence Day in the United States anything like Independence Day in Chile? Grab a terremoto, and press play!

Download the Episode 10 transcript here!

Listen to Episode 10 of "Coffee with Gringos" here or on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, Stitcher and Soundcloud.


Paige: You are listening to Coffee with Gringos. I’m Paige Sutherland.

Mariah: And I’m Mariah Wika. Welcome back! Today, we’re talking about an upcoming holiday here in Chile - Fiestas Patrias. El Dieciocho is right around the corner, and so, today Paige and I will be talking about our perspectives on El Dieciocho, since we’re not from here. I experienced El Dieciocho last year, Paige hasn’t yet, so we’ll be chatting about this holiday. Remember, if you get lost as you’re listening, check out the transcript and vocabulary guide for this episode on our website. Okay Paige, you’ve never experienced El Dieciocho.

Paige: No! I arrived in March. I think from everyone of my students, I’ve heard how much they look forward to this day, so I’m pretty excited to celebrate it here in Santiago.

Mariah: Totally! Totally. El Dieciocho was my fourth day here in Chile. I arrived September 14th, and by then, it was already a big deal, right? People were dancing the Cueca in the streets and we had three asados my first week in Chile. The woman that I live with made empanadas at least two times. It was an intense and exciting first week to be here, that’s for sure.

Paige: I know! I couldn’t imagine when I looked at our work schedule because I was like… when I first arrived, “Oh! In September, we have three days off of work! And I was like… what is this for? Because in the US, that’s unheard of. You only get one day off for Christmas. So, three days in a row is quite a bit. And as I started talking to my students about the meaning of El Dieciocho and what people do, most people don’t work the entire week. It’s like a week long celebration of, like you said, partying and dancing and eating lots of cultural food.

Mariah: Right! Eating the empanadas and having asados and yeah, exactly. I think that I probably gained five pounds just my first week in Chile...I don’t know how much that is in kilos.

Paige: I think what I’m excited about most is, since I’ve been here, it’s about five months… I have yet to have a terremoto.

Mariah: Really?!

Paige: I’m saving myself for El Dieciocho.

Mariah: I think that you either love terremotos or you hate them, there’s not an in between.

Paige: I’m gonna be open-minded, but I guess we’ll see on September 18th.

Mariah: Yeah, exactly. Last year, I went to a fonda in Parque O’Higgins. It’s one of the biggest fondas for El Dieciocho, and that was a wild experience.

Paige: What exactly does a fonda entail?

Mariah: Yeah, a fonda is… I’m not an expert, I’ve only celebrated El Dieciocho once, and so I’m sure that some of our listeners will laugh at my description, but, in my experience, it was this mix of a carnival and a festival that included food and dancing and concerts and games. Basically, just a really big gathering with lots of different entertainment and activities. There were so many people there, and at the time, I barely spoke Spanish. I definitely didn’t understand much Spanish, and it was totally overwhelming and very, very fun.

Paige: It was definitely a good, warm welcome to the country.

Mariah: Yeah, yeah. Exactly, exactly. What are you doing this year for El Dieciocho?

Paige: Yeah, so I’m actually, since we have the three days off of work, I’m doing a mini long weekend trip to Puerto Varas, so I’m going down South on my first overnight bus. But, I made sure that I’ll get back just in time to celebrate El Dieciocho here in Santiago.

Mariah: Awesome.

Paige: I feel like since this is the city I live in, I wanted to kind of celebrate it here at one of the fondas.

Mariah: Totally. You can practice the Cueca.

Paige: I’m not good at any US dancing, so I don’t think I’ll be good at that either.

Mariah: The Cueca is pretty easy, I think you’ll be an expert.

Paige: Yeah. I’m very excited about the food. Eating a lot of food, trying some terremotos, listening to cultural music...

Mariah: Drinking good wine.

Paige: Exactly.

Mariah: I’m going to the South too, this year, but I’ll be spending El Dieciocho in the South as well.

Paige: Where are you going?

Mariah: I’m going to Concepcion first, but I’ll actually celebrate El Dieciocho en Canete, which is a little town in the countryside.

Paige: Oh, so you’ll have more of a private fonda!

Mariah: Yeah, it’ll definitely be more of like a countryside, rural experience. It’ll be a quieter experience, I think.

Paige: It’s funny because El Dieciocho, I guess it would be fair to compare it to our July 4th because it’s our independence day? But, hearing from all of my students and from your experience of what El Dieciocho is here, it’s very different than the Fourth of July at home.

Mariah: Yeah, I think that for us… correct me if I’m wrong, I think that the Fourth of July is kind of a one day, two day sort of thing. Two day maximum, and that’s if you’re really, really excited about the Fourth of July. But here, it’s a week long affair. It’s more like how we celebrate Christmas in the United States.

Paige: I feel like the Fourth of July is mostly just barbecues, you maybe go to the local lake or ocean, y’know? You’re outside, and there are always fireworks. But, like you said, it’s a day (two, max). But, the week long celebration, I would compare it to holidays at home of maybe Christmas or our Thanksgiving, where it’s very family oriented, everyone gathers together and kind of celebrates your family culture, more than the national culture. But, we should maybe instill this at home and get a week off of work for July 4th.

Mariah: That would be nice, that would be nice. I would be a big proponent of that. Yeah.

Paige: Speaking of Christmas, it will be so weird. I’m not going home for Christmas this year. It’s gonna be warm.

Mariah: Yeah, because of course, Paige and I are both from places that are cold and snowy in the winter and so having a warm Christmas is a really, really strange feeling. Last year, it was really weird for me. Definitely.

Paige: I can’t imagine celebrating Christmas without there being snow on the ground. I arrived here in March, and as it was turning into winter here, I kept on thinking, “Oh, I’m behind on my presents. I need to go shopping! I need to get all of my family’s presents!” Because in my mind,  cold weather means Christmas. It means buying presents, getting presents. So I was like, “Oh, it’s only July… I do not need to do my Christmas shopping yet.”

Mariah: Yeah, I hear you. It’s different for sure. Last Christmas, I had an asado, and I wore a short-sleeved dress, y’know? It was nothing like Minnesota where just to go outside usually for Christmas, you’re pulling on a hat and gloves and snow boots. Yeah, it’s a different world in that way.

Paige: I think I will enjoy the warm weather, but it won’t feel quite as much like Christmas spirit-wise.

Mariah: Yeah, totally, because there’s such a strong association between the snow and the cold and that holiday. It doesn’t feel like Christmas without snow, but it was still a lot of fun. You’ll make it! You’ll still enjoy it!

Paige: I’ll survive. Speaking of holidays too, I can’t believe how many they celebrate here in Chile.

Mariah: Yeah, absolutely.

Paige: I love it! I need to bring this back home. There are so many days off of work. Every other Monday it feels like I have a holiday coming up.

Mariah: Exactly, I was really surprised by that too. The number of random holidays… it’s a lot! And sometimes, I ask my students or my friends here, I say: “Why is today a holiday?” And they say, “I don’t know!” Usually it’s connected to the Catholic Church, I’ve found.

Paige: When it’s a holiday here, everyone has the day off. At home, it’s kind of, company chooses what days are holidays, but it’s nice here that if it’s recognized on the national calendar, most holidays give that holiday.

Mariah: Totally, that’s fantastic. And good for us.

Paige: It’s very good for us! Thank you Dynamic!

Mariah: As much as we love teaching, we also love having a day off, just like our students.

Paige: So, we will be embracing our three days off for celebrating my first El Dieciocho.

Mariah: And my second.

Paige: So, we can’t wait to celebrate Chilean culture, eat the food, and drink the drinks.

Mariah: Exactly, exactly. Have a great time! And we hope that you all have a great time too! Next week on Coffee with Gringos, we will be talking about one of the most typical small talk topics, the weather. It’s something that we can all relate to, we all experience everyday, so we’ll be practicing that vocabulary. Thanks for listening, and we’ll talk to you soon!


Upcoming (adjective) - about to happen

Example: Today on the show, we’ll be talking about the upcoming holiday, Fiestas Patrias.

Right around the corner (idiom) - happening very soon

Example: El Dieciocho is right around the corner.

Big deal (idiom) - a very important event

Example: El Dieciocho is a really big deal in Chile.

Look forward to (phrasal verb) - anticipate with pleasure

Example: Paige and I are really looking forward to celebrating this holiday!

To entail (verb) - to include

Example: What exactly does a fonda entail?

Gathering (noun) - a group of people that come together

Example: A fonda is a big gathering.

Overwhelming (adjective) - too much, over the top

Example: My first fonda in Chile, I couldn’t speak any Spanish, so it was a totally overwhelming experience.

To instill (verb) - to establish an idea or attitude

Example: We should instill the tradition of more public holidays when we return to the United States.

Y’know (slang) - slang for “You know?”

Example: I always associate cold with Christmas, y’know?

To embrace (verb) - enthusiastically accept

Example: We’re definitely going to embrace the three day holiday and enjoy Fiestas Patrias!

Download the Episode 10 transcript here!