So after the week I just had I've pretty much been introverted Aubrey trying to recharge and start to prepare myself for the next, and final stages, of my time here in Chile. Last Saturday literally feels like it could have been last month and I'm still just trying to come to terms with the fact the it is almost December.... I'll do this week in 2 parts I think.
So lets go back to a week ago.....
I get up last saturday morning excited and nervous. All I could think about was all I still needed to do to get myself ready for the Marine Corps birthday ball (including an hour and a half little adventure across town to get my curling iron from Madie's casa) and how amazing it was going to be. When I met my friend Megan at the metro stop by my house (she so amazingly offered to help me get ready) she was also ridiculously excited for me and so she only boosted my excitement higher. She was probably as excited as I was and it was incredibly sweet.
After spending quite a bit of time on my hair (which looked so great but didn't stay that way long....) it was finally ready to slip into my dress (An adorable black cocktail dress that my friend from church, Janet, let be borrow!) and leave for the metro. Megan was with me throughout the whole time taking pictures, offering words of encouragement, and not only took the metro with me but got off at my stop and walked with me to the front of the embassy too! After a little mishap with not being on the first list to get in the first gate (luckily I showed him my invitation and he let me through) I was into the grounds! Bryan was already at the venue, the Santa Rita vineyard, and so I was a bit on my own standing out front of the embassy watching other diplomats, officers, and VIP's show up in the black tie best. Eventually, 2 small and super nice Chileans girls showed up, they were dates of some of the other Marines, and so I made my first friends of the evening. They spoke some english but I also got to practice my spanish and we all banded together as we climbed on the bus and set out into the great unknown.
The Vineyard was about 30 minutes outside of town and when we arrived I just couldn't believe how beautiful it was. It was a prefect sunny summer evening and when I got off the bus I honestly think my jaw dropped a little. As a group we were lead into the museum and were allowed to have some time to stroll (This was the beginning of the wine tour..... which never happened because most wandered over the the main building to drink wine and start socializing) As I walked around some of the other Marines showed up and greeted their dates. I wasn't really too worried about where Bryan was because I knew he had pre ceremony things to attend to (He was one of the organizers of the event and the narrator for the ceremony) and I'm a pretty relaxed date when it comes to that stuff anyways, but the others insisted I go find him (Again I figured he'd find me when he was ready lol). As we made our way over the the main house I again started to realize just how big a deal this thing was, as if the police check points at the entrance to the vineyard weren't enough.... and it was also at this time that I made some more friends! Jason, Morgan, and Ana, became my partners in crime that night and when I couldn't be with Bryan meeting all the VIP's I was at the wine bar (It's good to have friends that know people) or cracking jokes with them on the patio while eating little foods. Because I don't work in, around, or anywhere near an embassy/ I'm very new to the military culture scene, I LOVED learning about it and getting the inside scope on all the embassy gossip. Watching Bryan's boss follow the general around like his lap dog was the cause of more then a few giggles from me that evening.
When Bryan was finally sorta done with his party duties we began our evening together. He took me around and introduced me to his superiors (he had to say sir., I got to call them by their first names!), his friends at the embassy, and we hung out with the other Marines and their dates. Man I love those guys, since I had been over at the Marine house a lot I've gotten to know a few and they are a bunch of awesome nerds. I miss them all already! (Bryan says that everyone loved me, I'm not sure how this is since I feel like I only shook a lot of hands... but hey I'll take it!) The evening was so pleasant as we got our pictures taken and had a look around the grounds. Bryan felt like he wasn't a very good date but he is far too humble about it and in all honesty he nailed it.
The ceremony was one very cool/intense/interesting moment in the evening. It actually made me a little homesick. There were 2 speakers, first Bryan's general (don't quote me on this) and then the US ambassador to Chile. Bryan narrated the whole thing and they even played a video made for all the Marine's in celebration of their 236th birthday. It talked about the history of the Marines, obviously, but its theme focused on the events of September 11th and Pearl Harbor. Like I said, it was a bit intense. A few other interesting parts were the cutting of the cake ceremony (they cut it with a sword!) and offer the first pieces to the guest of honor, the oldest marine and the youngest marine present. I also got to witness Bryan's boss (1 of the many) get sworn back in after deciding to re-enlist.
After the big american pride fest we all headed into the dinning hall (It's about 10pm) and man was it beautiful! Long and stone it was incredibly elegant. I had only caught peeks inside all evening and I was very impressed when I was finally seated inside next to Bryan at the Marine table (He had been working on all this for 2 weeks leading up to the ball and like I said I was impressed). We all throughly enjoyed each other's company that night and all those guys make me laugh. Add in the Chileana dates and how could one not have a good time! I ended up having the fish with white sauce, a creamed spinach, and tiny round potatoes. For dessert we had flan! My favorite! Freaking delicious! We had 3 courses total and had a full table setting to utilize. Even had a name tag (Which come to think of, I should have kept!) We had 3 wine glasses! And I can't even say how many utensils.....
After dinner, my table and my partners in crime from earlier were the first to hit the dance floor. It's incredibly awesome yet strange to see a bunch of guys in uniform, and other VIP's in black tie, get down on the dance floor! Complete with a DJ, strobe lights, and the stars, we danced into the night. What I found most awesome was that the later it got, and the more drunk people became, the older the rap got... hahaha! I tuckered out a little before most so Bryan, like I said before he was an awesome date, offered me his arm and sat with me while I rested and drank water. Since I had missed the last bus back into town (I hadn't really planned on going back by my onesie on the bus anyway when I could just ride back in the Marine SUV) I was at the winery pretty late and I ended up falling asleep inside the main hall curled up on an incredibly comfortable leather couch while Bryan and a few other Marines broke down and loaded the cars. I woke up briefly at one point to find that Bryan had tucked a beautiful bouquet of flowers in my lap! I was so flattered seeing I had only received flowers a few times before in my life from a non-family member and the last time I clearly remember was when I was a Sr. in high school. Funny how girls remember stuff like that.... once I was nudged awake and into the SUV the rest of the night is kinda blanketed in a sleepy fog. We dropped the other Marines off at home then it was my turn. Bryan walked me all the way to my door even. Such a gentleman. Needless to say I went to bed a very happy girl that night (I was pushing aside the fact that I had to be up to sing at church in 4 hours....) and it's one night that I WILL NEVER EVER forget. Chile has continued to bless me in way that I never would have imagined and presented me with opportunities that I can't help but take.
Plain and simple, it's Magnificent!
Duders - If you are reading this. Thank you again. I miss you and please be safe!
Here is the link to pictures for those of you who can't/haven't seen them on facebook.