Sunday, November 24, 2013

Cariño y Amor

Tuesday and Friday, I began teaching a Basic Computer class to eight students with no computer experience at all. Fortunately they were all on the same level, so none of them felt left behind. The going was very slow. We learned to power up and power down the computer, how to minimize and maximize windows, how to copy and paste, and even got email accounts. I had studied the vocabulary for days. My best student is Violeta, 84 years old, who has four computers in her house and doesn't know how to use any of them. She is a delight.

Elder K. and I keep seeing these little hole-in-the-wall shops in which you apparently deposit pantyhose, socks, t-shirts, and other ropa interior, interior clothing. We asked Hna. Rosa and Romy about this, and they laughed and told us these are discount shops for brand new underwear. Whew. We were glad to know.

Every day we pass this house for sale or rent, on the corner of Chacabuco and Colo Colo. Since it is vastly larger than our 400-sq-ft apartment, has a yard with grass and flowers and bushes, and a big courtyard in back with parking, we began dreaming about renting it, at the very least. So far it is still available.

My garden on the balcony. Hermana Rosa kindly gave me a few of her tomates cóctel , cherry tomato plants. I also have ciboletas, chives; my Estrella rose; a spearmint plant, and I planted basil and poppy and calendula seeds. The climate here is very easy on on plants, and so far they are doing well.

Hermana Balden, the mission nurse, wanted me to ask Hna. Rosa about herbal remedies for the young missionaries for insect bites, inflammation and skin problems. Here are some of her unguents, including Calendula for skin; St. John's wort (Hierba de San Juan), Rose Hip ( Rosa Mosqueta) and Calendula for inflammation, and the Eucalyptus and Stinging Nettle for strained muscles.

We finally got an assignment from the bishop of the Universitaria Ward to visit families. We met a set of elders near the University of Concepcion and started walking.

Elder Naranjo from Santiago and Elder McAlister from Utah, walking along the path between banks of poison hemlock. One of the daughters of the family is walking home from school, ahead of us.

The very steep path up to the Verdugo home.

The Verdugos live in the Aguita de la Perdiz neighborhood outside of Concepcion. As far as I can tell, Aguita de la Perdiz means either Gloomy Partridge, Partridge in a Misty Fog, or Partridge Drinking Herbal Tea. (Probably mate, the herbal tea of Chile.) I asked Romy, who says Aguita refers to "little water," in this case a small stream. The homes are not well built. Hna. Verdugo was very sad because her husband had recently left, breaking up their family of six daughters. We promised we would come visit her again.

Containers to keep garbage out of the way of roaming dogs.

Coming down out of the hills, we passed through one of the nicest neighborhoods we have seen so far, outside of the University of Concepcion.

I decided I would try baking cookies. Here I am making brown sugar out of white sugar and chancaca liquida--molasses.

You can also get chancaca in a compressed bar. Break parts off and boil in water to make a brown sugar syrup. Elder K. thinks chancaca bars look like fly bait.

I broke up bars of Sahne-Nuss bitter chocolate with almonds, which made good semi-sweet chocolate chunks. The second batch came out better than the first, since for the first batch the oven had only the top element cooking so the bottom of the cookies were not done. The oven allows you to heat up the top, bottom, or both top and bottom elements for cooking.

Saturday I made a carrot cake using toasted quinoa flour, the nearly flavorless canela (cinnamon--I've tried every variety they have here and it doesn't come close to Costco Saigon Cinnamon), and whole nutmeg, which came with its own little grater. We ate it the Chilean way--with fresh arandanos and frutillas (blueberries and strawberries) from the street vendor, finished with a sauce of vanilla-flavored liquid yogur (yogurt).

At our Thursday weaving workshop--the stylin' Hermana Debora, modeling a rather gorgeous woven bag made by the Institute director's wife.

Hna. Romy modeling a woven skirt.

Another stylin' sister.

Here I am, adding a crocheted edging to sixteen woven squares, which will be sewn together and made into a poncho for Hno. Farias' wife as a thank you for letting him spend time in Concepcion to teach the self-employment seminar.

Hna. Andrea Ramirez, teacher of the weaving workshops, master artist, and the creator of the wall hanging I admired when I first came here. She made a gift of this to me for doing the crochet work for Hna. Farias' poncho.

Hna. Andrea's wall hanging is, as she says, made with cariño y amor, love and affection. It is the Tree of Life, and its roots run deep. The Ramirez family lives on the shores of the Concepcion laguna--small lake--and their property was damaged in the 2010 earthquake. I am hanging this beautiful creation in a place of honor on the wall in our little apartment. Elder K., when he first saw this, thought it was of búhos, owls.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

One month in Chile

We have now been a month in Chile.
I finally got my camera back from Chillán this week, so here are pictures from our trip south of Concepcion: 

Lago Mallalafquén, under the volcano

This was taken on the grounds of a very large, very expensive hotel.

After visiting the lake, we visited the shoreside town of  Pucón.

A close-up shot of the beautiful Chilean fire tree.

Friday evening we attended a special satellite broadcast for married couples from Buenos Aires, with talks from Elder Christofferson and Elder Holland on love in marriage. Elder Holland and Elder Christofferson
both met with the president of Chile, Sebastián Piñera, whose term is coming to a close. Before the broadcast, we went to the food court with four other senior missionary couples at the top of the Mall Centro and had Chinese food, all the while the Chilenos were cheering as the Chileans won at futbol (soccer) against Argentina.

 Back to Conce. A picture of our clever little ice cube tray. This is for you, Laurel!

Elder K. must have been thinking of pasteles on our walk home, because he saw this sign on Calle Anibal Pinto and thought, "Handmade pies!" Of course, it says, "Hands and Feet Spa."

At least three of these horse-drawn carts travel up and down Calle Chacabuco. The horses must have nerves of steel, and they travel at least as fast as the cars do. We often buy ingredients for lunch at the Unimarc supermercado across the street.

At our Thursday weaving workshop, Hna. Ortega demonstrates her fingerless gloves, each glove made with one size 20 cuadro. Hna. Ortega showed me her favorite knit shop in El Centro, where we walked last week, where I bought all the burgundy-colored sale yarn to make my first cuadro.

More fingerless gloves, edged with crochet, and children's slippers made with size 20 cuadros.

Hna. Hernandez demonstrating a glove made in a soft yarn

This lovely lady was selling lana, wool yarn, that she has dyed and spun herself

I plan on making wall hangings with these.

My size 50 cuadro frame finally came, so this is my first attempt. I crocheted the black mesh bag to hold the yarn for this project.

The finished woven piece, about 17" square. These are either sewn to other squares, or edged in crochet.

Romy borrows my camera to take pictures of the ladies' finished projects. Here a cute Chilena models her woven falda, skirt.

A beautifully made bag from one size 50 cuadro, finished with crochet.

On Saturday we set out to see if we could find the Chiguayante LDS stake center by bus, by ourselves. All fares are $440 pesos to wherever you are going, less than one U.S. dollar. We got on the bus first going to the terminal in Collao, so we could see where all the buses connect, from north and south of Chile. The route for this bus is on the placard behind the driver. Each bus has a sign in front, of where it is going, so you wait at the bus stop until one hopefully shows up. There are some stops specific to certain places, for example Talcahuano, where every bus going to that place has to stop on his route. Each bus is owned independently. This particular driver paid little attention to stop signs, raced with other buses for the best curbside spots, and multi-tasked about ten things at once, including counting out fares, opening front and back doors for passengers, and honking at any car that didn't jump when the light turned green. 

The quiet town of Chiguayante. The bus driver preferred his town to big-city Concepcion. We found the stake center, just past the restaurant Rocinante, but stayed on the bus in order to get back to Concepcion. Unfortunately it was the bus driver's last route of the day, so we ended up in the bus terminal for Linea 14, got on another bus, and made the trip back. The entire trip took us 2 hours.

The Biobío River, visible from the Chiguayante highway. The word Biobio is from the Mapundungan (Mapuche) language. It is 2 km, over a mile wide, and fairly shallow, as it flows into the Gulf of Arauco on the Pacific Ocean. Hna. Kimball told us the members of her ward, Pedro de Valdivia, who live on the banks of the river, walked neck-deep in the water to a little island, then took their food and best china out of their backpacks for a ward dinner.

Today is Chile's election day, so this appeared on Google Search for Chile, We only have one church meeting today in honor of the vote.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

More Ferias Artesenales

Strawberries, mango and asparagus from a street vendor, and ciabatta bread from the corner bakery. What more could one want?

Wednesday evening we took a 20-minute VIA LACTEA (Milky Way-Galaxy (Galaxias) bus line) bus ride--guided by Hna. Rosita--to Chiguayante, a leafy suburb overlooking the Bio Bio River. We visited with Presidente Marcelo Roca of the Chiguayante Stake, to ask if he would be pleased to allow Elder Kennington to teach a six-lesson class on How to Strengthen Your Marriage to members of his stake, by personal request of Bro. Carlos Farias.

Pres. Roca would. Elder K. now has several weeks to digest the lessons in Spanish.

The admirable Hermana Rosa Hernandez-Muñoz, herbalist, born diplomat, sympathetic counselor, and all-around sweetheart. 

Hna. Hernandez insisted on returning the picture-taking favor.

Chiguayante homes overlooking the River Bio Bio. (One day I will have a chance to photograph the river itself.) The new Concepcion, Chile temple will be located in the Chiguayante area.

The Chiguayante stake center. A stake center is the main building of the surrounding LDS wards, or congregations.

Thursday morning, Elder K. is unlocking the gate to the Self Reliance Center, after which we climb up the outside stairs to the second floor and use two more keys to get in the doors. Most Chilenos find the surname Kennington impossible to say, referring to the name as "buen gringo."  

La Directora de Primeras Impresiones Romina (Romy) Correa, girl soldier, born teacher, soprano singer, and self-appointed protector of clueless Hna. Kennington on the sidewalks of Conce. She makes sure I zip my purse and position it properly on my body, and keeps me from crossing the street if it is not safe enough. She grew up with her farming family north of Concepcion, descendants of Italian immigrants.

 Wooden "cuadro," a frame used for hand-weaving. Cuadros are sized by how many finish nails are used along each side. This one is a cincuenta, a 50, one of the largest. I ordered a 50, 30, and a mural-making cuadro from the cuadro maker, all for $11,5000 pesos, about $23.00

A finished cuadro in flat, soft alpaca yarn.

One room in the Center during the weaving workshop. Over 40 women were in attendance, along with Elder K.

A finished chaleco, or vest, constructed with eight size 30 cuadros, and crocheted around the edges.

Following the weaving workshop, we went to the Plaza de Independencia along Calle Barros Arana, where the city center, "El Centro," gives way to warrens of shops and closed-off streets. The statue is to Ceres, the Goddess of Agriculture.

The Catholic cathedral overlooking the Plaza de Independencia, dedicated to La Concepción de Maria Purísima del Nuevo Extremo.

The Mapuche Indian feria artesenale was in progress, and it was not to be missed.

Woven goods, clothing and baskets, amazing yarns, worked leather, hand-shaped pottery, and silver and copper jewelry. I have to remind myself I will be here for 17 more months, and there will be more ferias.

Lautaro, the Mapuche Toqui (chieftain) who helped  defeat the Spaniards during the 16th century Araucan War.

I bought this beautifully made basket at one of the Mapuche booths. Elder K. and I have regrettably agreed to reduce our consumption of bread and pastries, in spite of our increased walking exercise, although we allowed ourselves one last fling at a beckoning pastry shop right around the corner from our apartment. The woman who sold us the pastries kept referring to Elder K. as "Caballero"  -- "Gentleman."

Our daily walk down Chacabuco to the corner of Serrano. The old tile sidewalks, coming apart due to tree roots and terremotos (earthquakes), are gradually being replaced. The trees lining the streets in Concepcion and Santiago are generally honey locust and these sweet gum trees, which scatter their pointy spherical pods everywhere. Shopkeepers sweep their section of the sidewalk each morning.

Base of the sweet gum tree.

The little black colectivos are the taxis of Chile, don't cost much more than a bus, with an established route, and you don't get the back seat to yourself--you share it with as many as can fit. You see the bus or colectivo you want to take, stand on the curb, and point at the street below. Paradas, or bus stops, are found every two blocks or less on main two-way streets.

The Chilenos don't consider walking across a street jaywalking--but a pedestrian is expected to stay out of a car's right of way. Otherwise you can cross the street even if it's a red light. Don't try this in Santiago, though--the streets are wider and take longer to cross, and the bus drivers are even more aggressive than those in Conce.

One of many street vendors of fresh produce. The strawberries and asparagus right now are out of this world.

Costumed students getting ready for street theater. Concepcion is home to dozens of colleges, large and small, and many students live here, giving it a younger population than many other cities in South America.

I heard thumping noises outside, and saw this march up Calle Chacabuco. Marches for free student tuition and Mapuche Indian rights are common and ongoing. Unfortunately, the national elections next Sunday may return Chile to a socialist system which may erase its gains as one of the most stable and productive economies in Latin America, and defund it enviable social security system.

Saturday evening Elder K. and I finally found our way to the Concepcion Stake Relief Society meeting (we went to the wrong building, but it started 40 min. late so it was ok). The five Concepcion ward Relief Societies reported on their humanitarian, self-reliance, family history, and missionary activities during the past year, including displays of weaving, crocheting, Christmas projects, and herbals. Then they started dressing up and treated us to dancing. This group, above, danced a pretty mean Charleston! Complete with flapper costumes, fringe, beads, and feathers.

Another group of shameless Relief Society ladies took on 80's disco out on the cultural hall floor, with black curly wigs, and sparkly bell-bottom additions to their pants. I'd really like to see the Relief Societies in the Ontario Oregon Stake try this.

Part of our Barrio Universitaria (the University Ward,) Hermana Maria Conejo and her daughter watch the dancing in their native Ecuadoran dress.

The Conejos performing an Ecuadoran folk dance to music that sounds similar to "El Condor Pasa". Elder K. could have gone home with the men but he was glad he stayed to see the dancing.

Although we had a ride home from the Stake R.S. meeting, we hopped out at the Parque Ecuador on Calle Victor Lamas to see the Feria Amdel 2013. The white tent was probably 450 feet long, and full of booths, food vendors, entertainment, and hundreds of people.

Sorry the photo is a little fuzzy, but all I had was my iPad to take pictures. This is Elder K.wandering through the crowd.

I do like to support the local artisans. Two hand-woven baskets I need to hold things on the narrow shelves in the bedroom, a little rose to grow on the balcony, and what looks like a Little Debbie chocolate cake is actually a coin purse for bus fares. All of this for $5,5000 pesos, about $11.00.

This morning the seagulls were wheeling outside the balcony window in the morning sun. Our lives are constantly full of surprises.