“新年快乐! Are you wearing red?”
“Yeah, I’m wearing my red Owl top, I don’t have anything with a pig on it, though, so I—”
“MOMMY! MOMMY! MOMMY! MOMMY! MOMMY! MOMMY!”
“Gee, what’s this noise in the background? Did you adopt a cat or something?”
“Ah, just a dragon roaming freely in the house. Let me connect to Skype on the tablet… MARK, GIMME THE TABLET!”
“Hi, Mark! 新年快乐! Hey, wait, you’re not wearing red!”
“Huh I was wearing red, and then I changed when I came home, so that’s why.”
“Right. How are things going since yesterday?”
“Let’s do emojis again!”
I shouldn’t have shown Mark how to chat on Skype.
It’s 春节 in most of Asia and in Chinese communities around the world. Feng and Mark and celebrating with fireworks (small ones, I gather…), a day at the movie theatre instead of at school and traditional red posters I see in the background, on the living room walls.
“Did you go to Chinatown in Santiago?”
Yes, I made it to Santiago, Chile. More on the border crossing adventure tomorrow!
“Yep, walked through it today. Not so festive, just… you know, Chinese people operating import-export businesses. I mean, I’m sure they’re gonna spend the night drinking Tsingtao and eating jiăozi, but as a white foreign female, I can’t really ask to join.”
“Right. Give it a few years and the world will be Chinese, anyway. Hey, did you light the firecrackers you bought in Buenos Aires?”
“Planning too. Although I’m kind of scared to light them on my balcony. It’s not something we learn in kindergarten in France, you know.”
“Just use the small ones. Don’t set the place on fire!”
I looked for festivities and Chinese symbols all day, hoping to find a way to celebrate or at least illustrate the blog post. There are graffiti all over barrio Brazil, you’d think finding a cartoonish pig would be easy—after all, South America eats its weight in jamón but na-da. I ended up taking a picture of a fish, which is a lucky symbol in China—“fish,” “鱼” (yú) is a homophone of “余”, which means abundance.
“It’s your year, Juliette!”
Yep, I’m a 🐖.
At 1 a.m., I grabbed the pack of small firecrackers and went downstairs to light them as discreetly as possible.
The small scratching surface, much like the one on matchboxes, let me down, but I remember Feng’s “Firecrackers 101”—use a cigarette! And so I did and boy, they were loud.
I didn’t get arrested, so it’s all good.
So天天快乐 and 身体健康!