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.

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