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.