Chileans celebrate their independence

It may not have been the traditional week of partying, but a group of Chileans were determined to celebrate as they met in Blenheim on Saturday night to mark Chile's independence.

The group of about 15 gathered for a barbecue with traditional Chilean food, drink and dancing to mark independence from Spain in 1810. Party organiser Sebastian Rocha said although Chile's official independence day was September 18, celebrations traditionally ran for four or five days. Living so far from home, it was the atmosphere of big celebrations that he missed most.

"It's everything, people, food. In Chile at this type of party you can find six, seven, 10 people dancing. You can go the whole day drinking and eating at everyone's houses and everyone is friends."

Maria Gonzalez said though they were not able to take five days to celebrate, the group wanted to make the most of their night and informal planning had been going on for more than a month.

Estefania Suarez said most of the group were long-term residents of Marlborough and the night was a chance to help keep their culture alive and enjoy some comforts of home. "It's a chance for food and dancing, wine and music, friends . . . and just talking a lot of Spanish is nice."

A highlight of the evening was enjoying a bottle of Chilean grape brandy Pisco brought from Chile by Mr Rocha.

The Marlborough Express