Birthday #23

29 January 2006
3:10 PM

Band at Trilla
A band plays at Trilla, the big celebration in the Chilean countryside during the year.

It’s not every year that the entire town turns out to celebrate your birthday, but that’s exactly what happened this year. Well, OK, so everyone came to celebrate and it may have been just coincidental that it was also my birthday. I maintain that is not the case.

Here in Pocuro, Trilla was this weekend. It’s the big celebration of the year here in the countryside. Trilla has its origins in the agricultural culture here. Now is the time to bale hay, and from what I understand of that process, the wasos (“cowboys”) would bring out straw and ride all their horses on it to trample and prepare it. I’m probably missing some of the key details of the celebration’s background but the short version is that machines do all the relevant work nowadays. People still come together for the celebration for a weekend that includes a cermonial recreation of the old traditions; cowboys ride their horses around in a circle, stomping on wheat and performing tricks. In the night, people dance and dance to bands and eat delicious food. For a taste of the music, you can watch a short video clip. Like any Chilean celebration, it goes until 5:00am.

So on Saturday night, all of the associates, plus some friends, walked three blocks from our house to the big festival. We were exhausted after the full week of CEVA, the summer day-camp we had finished running nearby. Trilla was a great time to kick back, get a cold drink, and eat choripan, a fantastic spiced sausage in top-notch bread. We enjoyed the night and my friends sang happy birthday as the clock struck midnight and the day turned over from January 28 (a day of little significance) to January 29. We were too tired to stay for the whole night and we turned in at 2:00am.

Birthday gang
From left to right: From left to right: Caitlin, Roy, Meg, Ryan, Emily, Maureen, Tom, and Matías.

Sunday was a relaxing and thoroughly enjoyable birthday. We slept in late. Emily and Caitlin cooked chocolate-chip pancakes for breakfast, topped with sugared peaches. I got birthday phone calls from friends and family. I didn’t have to do the dishes once during the day. I read magazines and books and generally didn’t do very much. We went to the closing Mass for CEVA. And finally, to cap off the day, we had a fantastic chocolate cake that Meg made.

Thanks to all the well-wishers who called, sent cards, emails, and packages. It was great to hear from so many people. When the local Holy Cross priest who collects our mail heard it was my birthday he said, “Oh, that makes a lot of sense. I just thought you were really popular or something.”

If today was any indication, year 23 looks promising.