Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Colectivos of Concepcion

Tomorrow is Elder Kennington's Big Birthday. He is feeling it, probably now that he is not out on a tractor every day and gets enough rest. His greatest wish is to find some Really Good Ice Cream. We had a Really Good Ice Cream Cone once in a shop in Concepcion, but even though we have searched for it since then, we haven't been able to find it again. Most ice cream you can buy is rather milky, with lurid food coloring, but occasionally we have been rewarded. We may have to search for Really Good Ice Cream again tomorrow on the Big Birthday.

This week several of the ladies finished more of their wall hanging projects.

This one is in the Mapuche style, with the natural colors,  empty spaces surrounding wrapped vertical yarns, horizontal sticks, and a hanging trim.

Finely woven wall hanging, making use of bright color and purposely empty warp yarns.

Detail of the above telar.

A stylized tree

A brightly woven, geometric design, using vellon, dyed wool fleece, and trimmed with beads..

A pastoral scene with added elements, including a crocheted sun.

This is my second telar, in natural colors, in the Mapuche style. It is for Sis. Pulsipher, who is leaving to go back to the United States in a month. Since I am still a beginner, it is not perfectly--or even well-done, but I had fun doing it. The rod is Colihue bamboo, and the dark circles hanging down are the spiny spherical seed pods of the sweet gum trees that line the streets of many cities in Chile.

Since I have been observing the numbered routes of the Colectivos of Concepcion--as we try to visit a different LDS building every Sunday--I am recording the information here so I can always find it. The general route for all colectivos is the 2 mile square that runs along Chacabuco, Rengo or Lincoyan, Manuel Hernandez-Rosas, and Lientur. The numbered signs on top of the cars announce what other neighborhoods they serve. The cars are independently owned, and belong to certain terminals. Some taxis are more commonly seen, for example the numbers 2-8 and 27. Other numbers come along more rarely, and some not at all on Sundays. You can call a regular taxi, which will pick you up at your door and take you anywhere in Concepcion, but they are more expensive. For about 90 cents you can take a colectivo to most any of the neighborhoods in Concepcion.

There is some printed information on the bus routes, but they tend to stick to main roads, and connect the cities with each other. Information on colectivo routes is very hard to come by, unless you can find one of the colectivo terminals, and it is mostly word-of-mouth.  The best source is the drivers themselves, or people who live in the neighborhoods they serve. In other words, in order to use the colectivos, you have to be familiar with the main map of Concepcion and all the neighborhood areas, and be willing to flag down a driver (if there is space in his vehicle) and ask him (or occasionally her) if he can drop you off where you want to go. If not, he will tell you which number will work for you, and even wave another driver in your direction.

If you find yourself in another Chilean city, ALL, and I mean ALL, of the street names are the same. So don't be confused; the following list is for Concepcion.

I will update as I get more information:

1 --
2-- Hospital, San Sebastian,  Barrio Norte, Ejercito, Rengo/Lientur
3--Hospital , Rengo/Lientur, San Sebastian, J. Ewert Terminal, Tucapel, Cerro lo Polvera
4--Las Princesas, Santa Sabina, Mall, Terminal
5--Villa Cap Terminal, Andalien, Rengo/Lincoyan, Lientur
6--Miraflores, Cementario, Portal, Laguna Redonda, Lorenzo Arenas, Juan Pablos II, Aguita de la Perdiz, Portal Concepcion
7--Tucapel, Terminal, Laguna Redonda, Fresnos, Terminal Collao, Gran Bretanas, Floresta,  P. Samedra, V. Huascar, P. Bio Bio, Los Conquistadores
8--Lorenzo Arenas, J. Ewert, Hospital, Chacabuco, Puchacay, Los Lirios, Golf
10--Collao, Fresnos, Chacabuco/Lincoyan, Freire
13--Tucapel/Colo Colo, Barrio Universitario, Laguna Redonda, Parque Central
14--Via Acero, Collao, Golf, Lorenzo Arenas, Laguna Redonda
16--Lincoyan, Loma de San Sebastian, Hospital, Villa Cap, Bellavista, Andalien, Pelantaro
21--Tucapel/Colo Colo, Barrio Universitario, Parque Central, Golf, Laguna Redonda
22--Mall, Lider, Terminal Jota Ewert, Barrio Universitario, Santa Sabina, L.San Andres, Aguita de la Perdiz
26--Aguita de la Perdiz, Barrio Universitario, Penuelas, Golf
27--Villa Cap, Ejercito, Calle Uno Oriente, Camilo Henriquez, J. Ewert, Lincoyan/Rengo
28--Aguita de la Perdiz
29--Mall, Lider, Terminal Jota Ewert, Las Princesas, Lomas de San Sebastian, Aguita de la Perdiz, Barrio Universitario, Santa Sabina, Chacabuco, Lincoyan

Sunday, February 16, 2014

El Pato Patricio

Today we were going to visit Romy's Frutillares branch in Tome, but at the last minute she wasn't going to be there, so instead we went to the Chillancito Ward in the Andalien Stake. Very sweet people, welcoming and kind. But that is what we have come to know of Chileans. One of the ladies had come to the Centro de Autosuficiencia for the computer lessons I was giving and recognized us. 

We notice that a lot of ward leaders have taken out Perpetual Education Fund loans and are in the process of paying them back. It has been a blessing in their lives. People without a professional education in Chile usually earn very little, and thus do not have the resources needed to be able to donate time and talents to leadership callings. Elder K. is often asked to speak to the wards when we visit, and usually someone will approach us after the meeting for help with employment or education. It is one of the most fun things we do, to visit these wards.

Galvarino, our apartment building's gregarious morning concierge, told us about an apartment for rent that is twice as big as the one we are in, only ten mil (twenty dollars) more per month, and not owned by Senor Fuchs (pronounced Foosh), whose separated wife Senora Fuchs keeps trying to get us to call her so she can collect the rent from us herself. Galvarino warned us against this, since the contract is with Senor Fuchs. Apparently you can buy and sell these apartments, like condos, and Senor Fuchs happens to own the one we live in. We handed all the information to Hermano Parras, a dead ringer for George Clooney in looks and charm, who works in the same building as the Centro de Autosuficiencia, and speaks Castellan very fast. He is the one who got us our current tiny apartment, which, he admits, is tiny, but was all that was available during the college year. Rental agreements here are usually easy to break after 30 days, but it helps if it is Chilean talking to Chilean. Especially when they talk as fast as Hno. Parras.

By the end of the day he had talked to Senor Fuchs' attorney and everyone else, and arrangements are coming along nicely. Maybe in a few weeks I will have somewhere to put this montón de lana (big bunch of yarn) taking up too much room in Departamento #1307.

I finally finished my Copihue wall hanging, after incorporating some excellent suggestions from Elder K. Hna. Dagnig brought in a bunch of poles of the Colihue, the Andean bamboo plant, and gave me these to hang it on. It had to pass inspection from every lady in the workshop, but in the end they pronounced it "lindo," and me "muy talentosa." Mi primera murala tejida. (My first woven wall hanging.)  My next project is a request from Hna. Pulsipher, who with her husband is returning to the U.S. next month. She wants an authentic Chilean murala, and I am, after all, a nearly-certified Chilean murala weaver.

On Monday we had our hair cut again. Here Andrea is using her trimmer on Elder K in her little front room on Calle Manuel Bulnes. All the missionary couples in the mission office want her to cut their hair after seeing our haircuts. This will be of help, since her husband recently lost his job. He has been into the Centro de Autosuficiencia to talk with Hna. Rosa about auto-empleo, self-employment. We brought Manolito a gift of paper and colored pencils, so he ran off to draw pictures. He is as artistic as his mother.

We were able to finally see the legendary Patricio, pato mascota (pet duck) of Manuel Mendoza. Manuel called for Patricio across the laguna, so here he comes with his latest novia, sweetheart. Manuel and Andrea thought he was faithful to only one female duck, but they figured out that there were at least three female ducks he was in the habit of escorting around the laguna. Occasionally they meet and have short sharp duck-words with each other. Patricio is non-plussed by all of this.

I haven't been able to find Verdeflor maté in the grocery stores, so Andrea gave me an empty bag so I would know what to look for. She gave me a big bunch of fresh Poleo, Pennyroyal, a mint-related herb with a very strong fresh smell, used in some maté mixtures. It is also used to repel pulgas, fleas, along with eucalyptus leaves, which you sprinkle under the bed and in the cushions and pillows of upholstered furniture. Hna. Balden, the mission nurse, has been handing eucalyptus leaves from Andrea to all the grateful missionaries. Whatever fleas come our way never bite me, in favor of biting Elder K., who obviously has warmer blood than I do. One of the few instances where it pays to have cold hands and cold feet. Since we have been strewing the herbs (and spraying Raid) we, or should I say Elder Kennington, hasn't had trouble with them.

At the Centro de Autosuficiencia, a third group of ladies exhibit their items at a mock-sale. They bill themselves as "Abeja Obrera," worker bee. It somehow sounds better in Castellan.

An hermana from the Lorenzo Arenas ward, Andrea's sister, demonstrates her artistic talent in this work in progress.

Elder K., everyone's favorite model, here with a pair of lavender gloves.

Since by now the entire city of Concepcion knows I am making a wall hanging of the Chilean national flower, all the sisters want to make sure I appreciate it thoroughly. One sweet sister brought in several vining stems of the Copihue in a bag  of wet dirt. (No roots, unfortunately.) It is completely gorgeous. On the right hand plate you can see the seed pod, which is edible. These are tricky plants to grow, although some coastal California gardeners have been successful.

 The leaves of the Copihue are leathery and the flowers are substantial, but for all that, they are exquisite, and fleeting.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Herbs & Murals

This week we visited the Lorenzo Arenas Ward. The members of this ward have an understanding of how the church works, including the priesthood leaders, Relief Society sisters, Young Men and Young Women, Sunday School, and the children's Primary organization. We met five sisters we knew already because they come every week to the weaving workshops. We were able to explain at length the changes in the Centro de Autosuficiencia, and invited ward members to participate.

Hermana Rosita's latest creation, which she gave to us as a gift. Crema Baba de Caracol, for "Acne, manchas, arrugas, cicatrices, quemaduras, estrias, hidratante, etc." (Hydrating cream for acne, spots, wrinkles, scars, burns, stretch marks.) If you put the phrase "Baba de Caracol" in, the results are "snail slime" or "snail saliva."  Evidently people working with snails discovered their skin problems healed very quickly, and thus the extraction of snail mucus. Hna. Rosa described the process she used with her students to prepare the cream, but she may need to explain it again.

On Thursday, Hna. Dagnig (we checked--this is how she spells her first name) brought her spindle to demonstrate how she combined two smaller threads into a larger one.

Hna. Andrea is explaining mural weaving to this cheerful brother, who attends the Lorenzo Arenas ward.

Here is his weaving of a sailing boat so far.

Very careful, finely woven wool following the drawing behind the warp.

An interesting tree, made with a selection of different yarns, and twigs.

Another tree, more rustic, made using thicker untwisted "vellón," lambs wool fleece.

Monica, a perfectionist who is never happy even when it is well done. She is recreating a photo of a stunning mountain and lake found in southern Chile.

My unfinished Copihue wall hanging. Fortunately I am not a perfectionist. Andrea had me try the yarn-wrapping techniques for the leaves, but I'm not sure I will use it on all of them. I will use it to make twining vines. The warp (vertical) is a heavy olive-green wool yarn, while the weft (horizontal) is two narrow black acrylic yarns woven through with a metal yarn needle. The flower and leaves are rayon and acrylic yarns, covering the canvas like embroidery. All the ladies in the workshop have to check on it every week, wondering what the Gringa is doing now.

Andrea explaining a technique on how to insert natural objects, such as sticks or dry moss, into a mural. She was suffering from the pain of scoliosis, so we gave her our on-hand supply of ibuprofen and combination headache medicine, both of which are dreadfully expensive in Chile.

We were compelled to model the Grinch hat and the black woven bag. The ladies like to say the word "Stingy" so now Elder K. is the "Stingy Grinch." I finally broke down and bought a couple of t-shirts, including the one I am wearing in this photo, at the Lider store on Calle Arturo Prat at 2 mil. pesos ($4) each. The missionary wardrobe tends to be VERY MONOTONOUS and needs a little help now and then.

 On Saturday afternoon, the University Ward Relief Society had a class on herbs, which I attended along with Hermana Balden, the mission nurse. My Cuaderno de Hierbas (Herb Notebook) has an example of each herb pasted in with descriptions. This is Culén, a native Andean plant used for indigestion, diabetes, and fevers. BTW, this is how paper looks in Chile--no lines, only graph paper. The notebook pages are nearly square or extra-long and narrow, so it is impossible to find folders or notebooks to fit 8 1/2" x 11" typing paper, which is also available.

Poleo (Pennyroyal) for gas and indigestion; Matico, antiseptic, for ulcers; Llanten (Plantago, fleawort) for earaches, inflammation, and hemorrhoids, and Palta, the large leaves of the avocado tree, used for coughs and inflammation.

Preparing herbs for drying

 Dry lavanda (lavender) for headaches in the basket along with the leaves of the Maqui tree; Romero (Rosemary)--anti rheumatic, for respiratory problems, stimulant, and sedative; and Ruda, common rue for hemorrhages, digestive problems, and antispasmodic. Next time we will learn how to make infusions, oils and creams.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Parque Jorge Alessandri

Last Sunday we talked to the Pedro de Valdivia Ward's bishop's council about the new Self-Reliance Center, and by the time we left following the Sunday meetings the bishop introduced us to 41-year-old Pamela, a 13-year English teacher who was no longer employed because she needed two years of certification classes in order to keep teaching. She had taken one semester but could not afford to go on. She was thrilled to learn she could get a Perpetual Education Fund loan, and within the week she has made application for the loan and gotten an exception from her stake president since the new rules are not in force yet. She will continue her classes in March.

Today we visited the Laguna Redonda Ward, and invited one of the counselors in the Relief Society  who just separated from her husband and lives with her three daughters in her mother's house, to come to the Centro de Autosuficiencia to see if we could help her find employment. She went from being depressed to hopeful.

Hilda Gutierrez-Arriagada, a coronary intensive care unit nurse, came into the Self Reliance Center this last week.  Because of health problems and lack of steady work, she has not been able to pay back her Perpetual Education Fund Loan. But now she has a steady job, and we printed out coupons for her so she could begin the loan repayment process.

At the week's weaving workshop, one group of women prepared a display as if they were ready to sell their woven articles.

Here the ladies model their wares.

I had several requests to crochet one of the handled baskets. This one is for Romy, of hand-spun and dyed wool yarn. I am attempting to translate the instructions into Castellan.

Fernando Alberto teaching the ladies about marketing. He prefers the name Alberto, but Romy seems to want to call him Fernando for some mysterious reason. He has made a habit of showing up every Thursday.

On Saturday, members of the Barrio Universitaria invited us to a paso--to spend some time--at Parque Jorge Alessandri, on the Coronel Highway south of San Pedro de la Paz. Jorge Alessandri was a forest products magnate who built this park with the profits. It is clean, well maintained, family friendly, has no dogs or trash, and was heavenly to spend the day in. Included on the grounds are walking paths, a pen of fallow deer, a greenhouse of Chilean native plants, a little musem dedicated to wood products, including a demonstration of making recycled paper for children, an art exhibit, music, a snack shop, and a theater. We met other ward members at the parada (bus stop) at Calle Carreras and Galvarino, and took the bus to Coronel at 10:30.

We got there about 11:30. Everyone got out their food. We began eating what we thought was lunch, but to everyone else it was desayuno (breakfast.)  We ate (the same) lunch two hours later. Hna. Andrea's maté was the best I had tasted so far--VerdeFlor brand, with her own mint and a little sugar. Elder Kennington thought the gradually inclining main lawn, which was eventually filled up with picnicking families, would make a great golf hole.

In our exploration of the park, we came upon the theater, where Manuel Mendoza, Andrea's husband, here with Joaquin, another member of the ward, broke into song in a nice baritone. Manuel especially likes Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, and The Mamas and The Papas. Occasionally I would join in, especially when Manuel's command of the English language failed him, much to everyone's amusement.

Several of the ladies in the group were plant lovers, so once they found out my predilection for herbs and flowers, they had to show me everything. Above is a picture of the Fuchsia Magellanica, "native to the lower Southern Cone of southern South America." (Wikipedia.) The Mapuches call it Chilco.

Members of the University Ward Relief Society Presidency, including Andrea, on the right.

Tall Hna. Cecilia shows me the leaves of the native Chilean Boldo tree, used in making a strongly camphor-flavored tea which is good for "estimulante digestivo y sedante, nervioso, neuralgias, reumatismo" according to the Parque's educational brochure  -- as a stimulant and digestive system sedative, calming to the nerves, and a help with rheumatism. It is really best taken, according to Hna. Rosa, (and I agree,) with a little orange peel to mask the flavor

The leaves of the Aristotelia Chilensis, the Maqui of Chile. The small black berries and leaves are both eaten by the Mapuche, and the leaves are used to dress wounds. The berries are sought after as a source of anti-oxidants, but we were warned that eating the berries will stain your teeth. We were told to watch out for Maqui del Diablo, a poisonous look-alike.

Colihue, the perennial bamboo of Argentina and Chile. 


Natre, the Solanum Crispum of the nightshade family, although the flowers of this Natre are white. Hna. Andrea says Natre is used for fevers and headaches.

Andrea calls this plant Tapón, which means stoppered up -- it is used for diarrhea. To me it looks like a betony, Stachys Officinalis, bishop's weed.

I told Andrea I had a Mimosa seedling coming up in one of the potted plants I had bought. I separated it and put it in a pot of its own.. She said, watch out, it might grow into a tree like this one.

Canelo, the source of Winter's Bark used by Francis Drake to prevent scurvy on his voyage around South America. The beautiful reddish wood is used to make furniture and instruments.

Forest of Eucalyptus trees at the top of the hill

From the observation deck, we could see the Isla de Santa Maria, off the coast of Coronel.

It was time to go back. We listened to a very good band singing Bossa Nova, and then we packed up our belongings to get on the bus home. I did get one last picture of a shrimp-pink Copihue before we left.