Spotlight: Cami’s Chilean Cumpleaños

Cami’s host grandmother: Cami, how did you get to be so perfect? Your parents must have taken their tiiiiime making you! Wink.

Disturbing imagery? Yes. Lost in translation? Absolutely not.

Cami Nakano clearly has perfect hair and teeth (the x-rays of which are probably framed on her dentist’s desk), but she’s more well-rounded than her effortlessly styled bob. Clever, graceful, and compassionate, Cami is that heart of gold Neil Young has been searching for.

She may be overzealous about Christmas carols and slow to make “hard” decisions (Where’s Cami? Oh, she’s still staring into the closet), but I guess we all have our flaws.

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To celebrate the life and times of Miss Cami Nakano, we partook in three nights of intercultural celebrations.

Night One: Carrot omelets, manjar cake, and Episode 4 of Glee. Special appearance by my little host mom.

Night Two: Family party at Cami’s where we belted our off-key hearts out while Cami made thirty seconds worth of wishes. One was likely: Never again let me eat manjar.

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Twenty three trick candles mean wishes don’t come true.

Night Three: “Ethnic food” in Bella Vista. Our love affair with choripan having officially been denounced after Sept 18th gluttony, we ran off to gringoland and spent a night in the boho-hip Barrio Bellavista searching for the perfect birthday dinner.

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Our goal was ethnic food. Isn’t Chilean food ethnic? I won’t dignify that question with a response. Instead of the typical potatoes and meat kabobs, we pursued “Mexifoods,”as advertised on the fajita lids. If nothing else, it almost had spices; the “hot” pico de gallo even bordered on mild. We were impressed.

Sunday afternoon we strolled in wanderlust through the shaded cobblestone streets of Bellavista. Amidst the electric houses, bohemian boutiques, and art dealers, we found a way to be our classy selves at the always popular…Emapanatodos! Per usual, Laurel food-models the most recent empanada creation straight out of the avant garde street vendor’s fryer: an apple pie empanada.

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The weekend’s only disappointment was saying good bye to Emma, our witty Welsh friend who we all but kidnapped from Buenos Aires. Though she is quick to patronize our banal vocabularies and horrid accents, we all know Emma is like, a super hardcore fan of the US.

Caught: A red, white, and blue-handed Emma, amidst efforts to forge an alliance with Team America.

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With or without the most up-and-coming empanadas, giant manjar cakes, or ethnic mexifoods, Cami’s Chilean cumpleaños was a success. It doesn’t take a special occasion to see how much Cami is loved in Chile, but we did need an excuse to use that overpriced gem-studded tiara. Maybe those trick candles didn’t fail us after all.

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Kate Springer

Freelance writer and editor based in Hong Kong. Contributor at CNN, Forbes Travel Guide, BBC Travel, Fodor's Travel Guide, superfuture, Tatler, and more.

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