Sunday, January 26, 2014

Chile's National Flower, the Copihue

The week started off with the Feria Internacional de Arte Popular, which runs through February 9th at the Parque Ecuador. It is one of the best we have been to.

Parque Ecuador is not far from where we live, so we've ended up going three times so far. Chile's "informal," or "terreno" economy, which includes barter, streetside, and non-tax-paying small shop owners, makes up 60% of its economic activity. In some areas of the world this can be over 80%.

The west end was given over to baskets. We were greeted by a church member who recognized us by our name tags, and I bought two oval baskets from him. I have not been able to find rectangular baskets I can put papers in.

The booth to the left, from Temuco, is selling silver and copper jewelry in the Mapuche style. I bought a pair of earrings that looked like little silver lilies hanging upside down. To the right is a leather worker from Chillan.

This basketmaker makes sculptures with weaving. Across the way was a display from Rapa Nui on Easter Island off the coast of Chile (and part of the Concepcion South mission).  The tall booth owner greeted us in a booming voice--he knew we were Mormons, and wanted to say hi.

Elder Kennington is looking for a new belt. He did not find one. He is carrying the two oval baskets in the bag.

 We skipped the food court, although Elder K. had to smell the hay bales and check out the baling twine--plastic, this time.

 There was even a display of plants for sale. I had to control myself. I bought a pink and white bougainvillea and a maidenhair fern on different days.

We brought home a pretty ceramic bird, and the lily-like earrings and pendant in silver and coral, which turned out to be in the shape of the national flower of Chile. It is called Copihue, or lapageria rosea, a genus with only one species of vining flower, usually in a dark coral color, but sometimes lighter pink or peach. It is also known as the Chilean bellflower, and is much loved by Chileans.

The maidenhair fern, a zip wallet from Peru, some earrings with real flowers in them, and ceramic-lined pottery. Most Chilean pottery is fired hand-molded terra cotta or black clay in the shape of footed individual cooking bowls or casserole-sized oval dishes, not thrown pottery. This was better made than most I have seen.

On Thursday, for the weaving workshop, the ladies were already well into making wall hangings. Since we were in Buenos Aires last week, I had missed the first lesson, so I observed everything I could while the ladies worked. In this photo, the weaving frame is wrapped in string or heavy yarn about 5 cm apart to form the urdimbre--warp--up and down. The green yarn is being used to anchor the threads so the more decorative trama--weft-weaving right and left--will not come loose. When finished, the wall hanging must be cut off the loom and attached by threads to dowels on the top and bottom. Some avoid this step by weaving permanently into a regular picture frame.

The loom is placed over a dibujo, drawing, and the shapes and colors will be filled in with decorative yarns. Some use shuttles and some use yarn needles to fill in the weft.

Someone had finished making a hat in the red, white and blue of the Chilean flag, and wanted Elder K. to have his picture taken in it. (The ladies missed him terribly last week.) He is modeling being a Smurf.

Not having brought my loom or any yarn, at least I could make a wall hanging design. I drew this picture of a Copihue from a photo online. I ended up making a drawing of a lily for a little sister who was a loss for a design. Most of the ladies used pre-printed drawings.

We rectified the yarn situation by stopping at a yarn shop on the way home. Most of this is seda, "silk," which is actually usually rayon or acrylic. The gorgeous unlabeled yarn is from Argentina. I finally got my Argentinian yarn.

One of the ladies who saw my Copihue drawing asked if I had ever seen one growing, and I said no. She called later and told us where we could see it blooming in a yard on Calle Lincoyan, which is conveniently near the Feria. So we took that route home and saw these beautiful hanging bells decorating the side of the house.

Now that I know what to look for, I even saw them for sale at the Feria plant section. But since the plants were 6 feet tall vines climbing on lath, and heavy in a two gallon container, I sadly didn't bring one back for my balcony garden.

One last view of the lovely Copihue, the national flower of Chile.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Buenos Aires

This week was the lanza (launch) of the new Centros de Auto Suficiencia, Self-Reliance Centers, in South America South--Argentina, Chile, Uruguay and Paraguay. We were invited to a conference in Buenos Aires with managers, staff and senior missionaries regarding all the changes. We packed our bags knowing it is a lot more hot and humid in Argentina.

Tuesday afternoon we wheeled our luggage to the Plaza de Armas and took a taxi to the Concepcion airport. Following the 1-hour trip to Santiago, we took a TransVIP shuttle to the Hospedaje next to the temple. Our reserved room was still being occupied, so fortunately Elder and Sister Pope, who live across the street, invited us to stay in their spare bedroom.

Several of the South American elders who came to the Centro de Recursos de Empleo for the workshop the week before greeted us on the temple grounds. They left for home on Wednesday.

Coming into the Jorge Newbery airport in Buenos Aires. We thank the Elders of the Santiago West Mission who took us, the Popes, and the Livingstons, to the Santiago airport, and made sure we got on the plane, which was fortunate since we had to pay another $160 reciprocity fee, this time to Argentina (on the Internet) before we could get our tickets. We also had to fill out a Tarjeta de Salir y Entrar (Leave and Return Card) in case no one realized we had left the country or were planning to return.

A shuttle picked us up at the airport and took us to El Esplendor Palermo Hollywood. Palermo is the district where the church offices are located. Our room, with its very comfortable king-sized bed, was another one of those larger than our apartment.

Carlos Farias, the Santiago CAS (Centro de Auto Suficiencia) gerente (manager), made sure we found a good restaurant nearby, El Trapiche, where he recommended the Milanesa Napolitano. In Latin America, Napolitano refers to Italian, and Milanesa means a large, thin, breaded cutlet. A Milanesa Napolitano blends the two in a marriage of pizza toppings with a breaded cutlet instead of crust. Very good, actually, although the size was huge, and the cheese was deep. Since Elder K. had a wad of Argentinian pesos (thanks to our brother-in-law Jorge Pulleiro,) he paid for lunch, and a number of other things, too, since you get a discount for using efectivo (cash). We might as well spend  it all, and since inflation is high in Argentina, we thought, ¿por qué no? Why not?

After almuerzo (lunch) we had a few hours, so we spent it with Hermana Mayo, a full time sister missionary and former Spanish teacher assigned to the Buenos Aires CAS. She was a fount of information. Here she is taking the Livingstons on a walking tour along Avenida Fitz Roy.

In the evening we took the Subte (Sub Terranea) to the landmark buildings downtown. On this stretch we were treated to the obnoxious ukelele music of a communist who lectured everyone on the evils of capitalism. Mostly people were laughing. He left us to try another car to preach to. Argentinians are a lot more European-looking, sensible, world-weary, and taller than the Chileans.

Coming out of the Subte to the wonderful old buildings of Buenos Aires. Many of them are French Provincial.

Here a starving musician manfully plays the bagpipes for small change. Elder K. put a few pesos into the bagpipe case.

Metropolitan Cathedral, in the Grecian style

National Museum of the Buenos Aires Cabildo and the May Revolution, in the Spanish style

Elder and Hermana Kennington in front of the Casa Rosada, Pink House, seat of the Executive Government in Argentina.

Elder and Sister Pope, in front of the Plaza de Mayo and facing the Casa Rosada. 

We walked a ways back in order to see the Obelisk, erected in 1936 to commemorate 400 years since the founding of Buenos Aires.

The next morning we went to our meetings at the LDS Church Office. This is the entrance side, on Avenida Bonpland.

A dynamic and enthusiastic speaker, Tom Rueckert, Director of Perpetual Education Fund Field Services, informed us of the changes in the upcoming few months, the principles behind the Self Reliance initiative, and how we will be carrying it out. Since most of the group spoke only Spanish, he did his best in Portuguese (since he was a missionary in Brazil) so we did our best to comprender.

I kept trying to sneak shots of the little Chilena lady on the left, Hermana Calfin from Vina del Mar, since she is such a photogenic character, along with her husband Elder Calfin. Hna. Calfin has gold-capped teeth and looks like someone out of a storybook. Hermana Soria on the right, a tall athletic Brasilena, is doing the speaking.

Accelerated Job Search Workshop teacher Paolo Ajuara, a Brasilian with perfectly articulated Castilian, had a group of real employment seekers in for a demonstration of how it works, which is, amazingly. Workshop participants are promised employment in 35 days if they follow the rigorous recommendations in making it their job to find a job.

Some of the senior sisters moved from beneath the air conditioners, which they are not used to, to sit next to Elder K. (Naturally.) We found out in a hurry the degrees Centigrade to be comfortable in--between 23 and 26. Above is Argentinian Hermana Sterkin, descended from Russian Jews, Hna. Soria and her companion Hna. Siddoway, a neighbor of ours from Brogan, Oregon, who speaks no Spanish. Hna Soria speaks Portuguese, Castilian, and Guarani, but no English. They are assigned to Montevideo, Paraguay. On the end is Hna. Mayo, whose husband died of pancreatic cancer two years ago. 

After the days' meetings were over, we planned to meet with Elder Wayne and Hermana Debbie Ashton, from our stake back in Ontario. They are serving as office missionaries in the Buenos Aires West mission, about to be reassigned as Branch President to the town of Veinticinco de Mayo, out in the country. Elder Ashton consulted on our dairy herd while he was a veterinarian. They hired a taxi and then took us to their favorite restaurant, Siga la Vaca, on the Buenos Aires waterfront. We passed the Monumento de los Espanoles, raised by the Spanish community in 1910 to commemorate the Centennial of the May Revolution.

Hna. Ashton, Elder Ashton, and Elder K. in front of Siga la Vaca, Follow the Cow. Lots of grilled meat--the ribs were especially good--and a pretty darn good salad bar. Since it was my birthday, I ordered a chocolate lava cake and ice cream for dessert.
I only include this embarrassing picture because the ladies at the Centro claim they won't let us back in without a picture of ourselves doing the Tango. Since the Ashtons know a few steps, we tried this pose. It would look a lot better if I were taller, thinner, and not wearing sandals, and Elder K. had a rose between his teeth.

 The moon came up over the skyline as we walked along the Avenida Alicia Moreau de Just, on the Puerto Madero. Since the stars were out, (something we don't see in Concepcion,) a taxi driver showed us the Southern Cross, the Cruz, in the night sky. Now Elder K. can cross an item off his Bucket List.

At the end of our walk was the spectacular Puerta de la Mujer, the pedestrian bridge built in 2001. The designer says the work represents a couple doing the tango, with the white mast representing the man, and the curved silhouette of the bridge representing the woman.

The next day, following our Friday morning meetings, we had a few hours until we had to be to the airport. Our gerente (manager), Raul Seguel, suggested visiting the leather district. Sadly, since no one wanted to accompany me to the yarn district on Scalabrini Ortiz and Cordoba, we took taxis to Padilla and Murillo in the heart of the tiendas de cuero, leather shops. Where you have lots of beef and pork, there will be leather. Here Hno. Seguel checks out a soccer shop for gifts for his children.

The leather shop where I bought several beautiful bags. The interesting leather sculpture represents the basket that used to hold live ducks in the often-violent (because of trampling by horses and knife fights) Juego del Pato, Game of the Duck, once outlawed and now allowed on strict rules. In place of a duck, a ball is placed inside the leather handles, and riders hang onto the rope-pommeled saddles as they combine polo and basketball, trying to get the "duck" into a large butterfly net.

Hna. Pope found a beautiful red leather jacket at this shop for about $200. She is a happy woman. We couldn't figure out what the bag in the window was trying to say in English. 

I bought the three long-handled bags in one leather shop, and picked up a small pouch in the beautiful Argentinian stamped leather in another. Hna. Pope bought several stamped leather bags for friends in the U.S. Hno. Seguel got the message and bought a large stamped leather bag for his wife for his return trip home.

I bought a silver ring set with the national gemstone of Argentina, the rose colored Rhodochrosite. Hno. Seguel reminded me that Chilean lapis lazuli is much more beautiful. But I already have some of that.

On our drive back to the Buenos Aires airport, we could see Montevideo across the brownish waters at the mouth of the Rio de la Plata, River of Silver.

The Cordillera near Santiago. After the heat and humidity of Buenos Aires, we were encantadas with the cool and comfortable Santiago evening air. We stayed overnight at the Holiday Inn, then left midday on Saturday for Concepcion, and home to our 13th story apartment.

We had a great time, met wonderful people, had good meetings, and a birthday I will never forget. 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

La Cueca

The weather has been spectacular this week -- mid 70's in the day, clear and sunny with nice breezes, and in the 50's at night. I wanted to check out the Mercado Central again, the flower market on Calle Caupolican between Freire and Maipu, but the week after New Year's there wasn't much going on. 

We did see the shell of the old Mercado building, which burned down a year ago. The little stalls are now set up along the side of the road.

I bought some baskets and a large bag of walnuts, nueces mariposas (butterfly nuts). 

This section of Calle Maipu is pretty run down.

We turned on Calle Rengo and saw this sign on a shoe store: "Waves, Bikinis, and Drinks." Maybe the English lettering looks good and no one knows what it means.

Here is the Galeria Rengo, where we stopped to look in. The blocks here are all 100 meters square, so an unpromising store front may give way to a pretty decent shop.

Here, Elder K. Looks into some shops under the skylights.

A plaid table runner made of three woven squares, complete with storage case. Elder K. was happy the ladies were all back after the holidays. Fernando, Romy's friend, also showed up and stayed until everyone (except Romy) was gone. We are seriously wondering why he attended the weaving workshop--but not really.

 I finally finished making my first poncho, complete with gray crochet trim. This teenage girl was roped into modeling it for a picture. I will be wearing this when it gets cold.

My crochet yarn bag was a hit, as well. I made this with doubled yarn and a large crochet hook.

Hermana Ruth is one of the most talented of all our group. Here she models a neck cowl, decorated with a home-made willow button.

This week Elder K. and I have been studying the routes and behaviors of the colectivos. They make a regular run through Calle Rengo, turning left at the synagogue (above) onto Chacabuco, two miles to Lientur, two more miles left on Manuel Rodriguez, then left on Calle Rengo again. The price is only 10 pesos more than a bus. We caught a colectivo in order to visit Andrea Ramirez, who is trained as a peluqueria, hairdresser, and she gave us top-notch haircuts. She says she likes cutting the hair of gringos, since it is finer and easy to see where she has cut. Elder K. asked the driver of the colectivo how many miles a day he traveled, and he said 250 millas.

This week, a group of homeward-bound missionaries from the Concepcion South mission, an unemployed stake president, and several from the community, experienced the Planning for Success workshop, mostly taught by Romy and Yolanda, with an introduction by Elder K and Hna Rosa. These are native Spanish speakers, from Uruguay, Guatemala, Paraguay, Mexico, and Argentina. They enthusiastically had their completion certificate picture taken. They insisted that Elder K. and I, and Hna. Rosa, be in the picture

On Saturday, while we were shopping for Sunday dinner with the Baldens and the Kimballs, we heard the music of the Cueca, Chile's national dance, in one of the plazas.

 The Cueca re-enacts the courting rituals of the rooster and the hen, and always includes the waving of a white handkerchief.

 This group is earning money to compete with other dance groups across the region. We wish them well!

Three of the original dozen tomato plants I got from the sister in the Bishop's Storehouse are doing very well in buckets on my balcony. The others stopped growing early on. Although blossoming, these were not setting fruit, so I started bringing them in at night--the temperature is consistently below 55 degrees outside each night. After a few nights inside, the cherry tomatoes are finally setting fruit. You can see a little one at the center of the picture.