When we moved to Chile a dozen years ago, a lot of learning was called for. Life south of the equator bore some similarity to what we’d experienced in suburbia; a fair bit, though, was new. But that was OK: we were up for new. Not only that, but a lot of what we found was absolutely delightful.

Like the custom of onces. The word is Spanish for 11 (I’m thinking today–11.11.11–sparked this memory…), and in the right context referred to the custom of a late afternoon snack. More than a snack, however: since supper got rolling around 9pm, onces could function as the meal between lunch and the evening repast. Taking a break in good company, with ample food and drink, on a patio looking at mountains or in a busy downtown cafe–a very pleasant way to wind down the workday or embrace the weekend.

The practice of onces is widespread, but its origin is rather unclear. We heard a number of explanations for the custom; we embraced them all, glad for whatever forces had conspired to embed such habits in the culture.

Some days, I miss that life…

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