Sunday, September 28, 2014

Tierra Bella

The first day of Primavera, Spring, 21 September, 2014.

It is still raining a lot, accompanied by spring flowers in and around Concepcion.

Blooming in every corner of Concepcion are Jacintos, Spanish bluebells, Hyacinthoides Hispanica.

La Cueca, the national dance of Chile, performed by a young couple in the Concepcion Stake, Fiestas Patrias, 18 September

On Sunday the first day of spring, we visited the Tierra Bella ward. Cristina, of the Relief Society presidency, is the sister of Gabriel Parra, (who reminds us of George Clooney and who is now a counselor in the Concepcion South Mission presidency). She is also the sister of Lily, President Arrington's wonderful cook. I admired a necklace she was wearing, which she promptly took off her own neck and put on mine. "That's the way she is," said one of the hermanas.

We came across a pair of elders walking to the church, so we drove them back to their house we had helped paint the week before, so they could drop off our donations of a couple of new cooking pans, some clean kitchen towels, peanut butter, and other necessities. Then we drove them back to the Tierra Bella chapel.

Although Fiestas Patrias are over, many buildings still fly the Chilean flag. Each building is required by law to fly the flag on national holidays.

Monday the Arringtons invited everyone over for a goodbye dinner for the Herreras, a service couple from Curico-Molina.

Hermana Herrera, in the center, always asks about my weaving, knitting and crocheting. When she found out I like flowers and plants, she told me the names of several of them in the grounds surrounding the Arrington's apartment, including ferns, helhecho,which she said (especially the ones in the picture above) were in the sun too much and turning yellow.

The Minches and the Scholes, Member and Leadership Support couples, were also there. Above is a picture of the Minches with Hermana Arrington.

I love weeping cherry trees when they are blooming.  When they are not blooming, is a different story.

 In this picture you can see the pretty necklace Cristina gave me.

The grounds were beautiful, including this camellia bush.

Once again, driving past the temple site along the highway in Pedro de Valdivia.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Yumbel and Fiestas Patrias

September 14 we drove to the pleasant country town of Yumbel in the Los Angeles North Stake.

The early morning fog combined with smoke from wood burning stoves.

We were glad to see it was going to be a sunny day.

Trees along the highway covered with parasitic mistletoe, the native Chilean Misodendrum Punctulatum, which blackens as it dies and dries out.

A campesino with his oxcart on the outskirts of Yumbel.

Bienvenidos a Yumbel. We saw many nice haciendas along the highway.

 The Sunday farmer's market was already underway, selling decorations as well as costumes of the Huaso, the Chilean cowboy, for the Fiestas Patrias later in the week.

We wandered around town looking for the usual green-gated LDS chapel, but realized we had passed right by this large house on Avenida Los Carrera which serves as the meetinghouse. Two sisters of the Relief Society stand outside chatting.

Before the meetings, Elder Kennington introduced himself to an elder from Argentina and one tall blond Norteamericano. One of the speakers had not shown up for Sacrament Meeting, so Elder Kennington got to give an impromptu discourse on Self Reliance.

 Following the meetings, we passed this hacienda, the business of which evidently has something to do with large earthenware jars.

Yellow pea-flower shrubs blooming profusely along the highway. Referred to as retamo, broom, the plants pictured above might be of one of a handful of different varieties. These are most likely Spanish broom or weaver's broom, which has become invasive in Chile.

Monday we took the Outback in for an oil change, and saw some pretty good tires.

In the evening we went to Andrea's for haircuts. One of her weaving students had given her a bouquet of lilies for her birthday the week before. I gave her a bottle of ibuprofen, as well as the wall hanging she had admired.

Wednesday we had an almuerzo with the volunteers at the Centro and the men in the Operations and Maintenance office in anticipation of Fiestas Patrias, the commemoration of Chilean independence in 1810. Bro. Seguel provided plenty of Chilean empanadas filled with pino, a mixture of chopped beef and onion, hard-boiled egg, raisins, and olives. Manolito, who was sitting next to me, does not like aceitunas, olives, and allowed me to eat his. 

The Google search page, above, shows empanadas with Mote con Huesillo, the national drink of Chile, a sweet syrup poured over dried or reconstituted peaches and grains of fresh cooked husked wheat.

Wednesday afternoon the Kauers asked us to help with one of the elders' apartments in Chiguayante. The Bio-Bio River is high after the winter rains, and the little islands were sparkling in the sun.

This little two-story casa has housed LDS missionaries for more than ten years. Four elders live here, and it was run down enough that it needed repainting in places and a little TLC. Hna. Kauer had the elders clean up the tiny back yard while we swept, then scrubbed out the kitchen and showers, including walls and ceiling, while Elder Kauer and Elder Kennington applied much-needed coats of paint to bedroom and hallway walls. Hna. Kauer promised the missionaries she would give them her next crocheted rug to kneel on while they said their prayers on the hard brick floor. 

Thursday the Concepcion Stake had events planned all day and into the late evening for the Fiestas Patrias, part of an entire week of events. Here two members of Barrio Universitario raise the Chilean flag to the strains of the Himno Nacional de Chile, Cancion Nacional, the National Anthem.

A young couple in full Huaso dress began dancing the Cueca, but there were technical problems, so we went inside.

We are told the mens' Huaso outfits can be quite expensive, once you include leather leggings and long-shanked spurs, the manta--wool poncho--or more expensive wool and silk chamanta worn by landowners; and the chupalla, the traditional horseman's hat. Women's typical "china" dancer's dress is full-skirted with ruffles and bright colors, often with the copihue motif.

We were told this type of dress with the side slit and ruffle, worn by one of the bishops' wives, is for ease in mounting a horse, and is more likely worn by women of the upper class. I especially like the copihue belt. Huaso outfits often include the color fringe like this sister is wearing.

Following the dancing of the cueca were kermesses, open-air fair games. In the country there are rodeos and foot races, but we were in town, and the kids were playing chess.

There was jump roping . . . 

 . . . and a tug of war. It was early in the day and all the gringos were in attendance, so it turned into an international competition. Since the North American sisters were wearing dresses and heels, we preferred being dragged gently over the line by the determined Chilenas, but the Elders were made of sterner stuff. Plus, Elder Kauer is twice the size of many Chilean men, so they redeemed the North American hermanas by winning their rope pull.

Next was sack races, but we had been invited to the Arringtons to try out steaks on their new grill, and Hna. Arrington came up with a few cans of cold A&W root beer. So we didn't stay for the plays that would be put on by each of the five wards, and more dancing. 

Friday was one of the quietest days we have spent in Concepcion. Many people had left town for festivities in the countryside, and all the stores were closed. Saturday was also very quiet, and the streets nearly empty. The Chilean people take their Fiestas Patrias to heart, and we enjoyed spending it with them.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Tomé and a Remembrance

September 7th we visited the Frutillares Branch in Tomé, on the coast of the Bay of Concepción north of  Penco and Lirquen.

I forgot to include this photo in last week's post. Before we left Salto del Laja, one shop opened up, and I found these lapices - crayon pencils made of small branches - for grandchildren. Who cares if they even color very well.

Sunday morning was gray and rainy. There was a big squiggle in the map we printed out, and it ended up being the old highway which had several hair-raising backwards curves, while going sharply downhill toward the ocean. The return highway was a real improvement.

Tomé along the ocean front

The Frutillares Branch building. All the meetings were timely, and the members were soft-spoken and reverent. During breaks between meetings, the members sang hymns in the chapel. It is one of the most musical places we have visited in Chile.

The chapel itself was well cared for and pretty. The building was remodeled and actually has central heating. Romy, who attends this ward, sang a duet with her music director, who was playing the keyboard as well as singing harmony.

Driving along the highway out of Tome.

Ships in the Bay of Concepcion.

Marker for the commune and municipality of Tome.

Sign for falling rock along highways cut through the hills.

Neighborhoods of housing built after the earthquake, which struck Tome hard.

South of Tome, north of Penco, is the municipality of Lirquen along the coast.

Above, carabineros making their presence known on Calle Serrano. We saw big  green tank-like trucks on the street for several days. Wednesday, after a Planning for Success workshop, Manuel and Andrea walked us home, for safety's sake. I had sent to Salt Lake for their patriarchal blessings, which they lost during the earthquake, and printed copies for them,which they let me read. It was touching to know that other people would be blessed to help them achieve their goals, which Elder K. and I feel a part of.

We were warned by several people, including my Chilean cousin Hno. Rojas, whom we met on the street, our concierge Galvarino, and Hna. Rosas, that we should stay home the whole day on Thursday. September 11th is the anniversary of the 1973 coup d'etat installing murderous dictator General Augusto Pinochet following the assassination of the  Marxist president Salvador Allende. Many of our friends keep their children home from school. All LDS church employees were sent home at 2:00 p.m. There is a history of anarchists using the anniversary as an excuse for violence against foreigners, and Chileans.  It was an otherwise beautiful day, so for exercise we walked up and down several flights of stairs. We watched remembrances of our own September 11th anniversary on the Internet, the terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers in 2001.

On Friday we saw our friend the street attendant on Chacabuco, to whom Elder Kennington gave a copy of the Libro de Mormon. He told us students and anarchists had blocked the street and lit fires, and 70 people from around Concepcion ended up being jailed overnight. During the week there was a bombing in Santiago, the murder of a young American teacher in Temuco, several alcohol-related deaths of students in Concepcion, and other problems with violence. We were glad when the week was over.

Meanwhile, I found a red-white-and-blue delantal - apron - with its Lone Star of Chile, along with other decorations in preparation for September 18th's national independence day. 

Friday an enthusiastic group of elders and sister missionaries from the Concepcion South Mission came for a Self Reliance workshop .  One of the elders asked about taking the OPIc English language test since he has been using the Companionship Language Study grammar books to prepare for it. Another thing I need to learn about:

I gave my green Mapuche-style wall hanging to Andrea for her September 11th birthday since she admired it so much. I made a new one, but I hung it on the wall in our apartment. Now everyone asks what happened to the one that was hanging in the office. Apparently once something appears on the wall,  it needs to stay there.

A rug I crocheted on September 11th out of recycled yarn. I was going to give it away, but I may wait until the cold weather is over.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Los Angeles & Salto del Laja

The last Saturday of August we drove out on Ruta 5 south for Los Angeles, a city of about 185,000 situated between the coast and the Cordillera. It is a farming region, so when Elder Kennington saw farm equipment dealers on either side of the highway, he started to feel at home.

It isn't ConAgra--it's Coagra, but Elder K. was impressed by the big tractors.

We even passed -- wait for it -- a silage pit covered with plastic sheeting and tires. Vanessa, Carrie, Conrad, Casey and Jeff will know all about this.

We stayed two nights at the Diego de Almagro, which needs to change the address on its website and on Google Maps. Fortunately someone told us where to find it.

We keep seeing silver crew cab Nissan pickups wherever we go in Chile, just like Wendy's Troca de Plata. Here it is again, parked next to our Outback in the hotel parking lot.

We ventured into Los Angeles, which we were told has spectacularly bad traffic, especially in the center of town, which is where we are, above, on Avenida Colon. Still, Los Angeles is more spread out and there aren't as many tall buildings as in Conce, for which we were grateful.

We located the Los Angeles North Stake Center so we could find later it among the winding one-way streets. We met with the stake president and the Self Reliance Committee for an informational presentation, which went very well. Sunday evening we met with another group of people interested in applying for Perpetual Education Fund loans.

The Pendleys, who come to Los Angeles regularly on South Mission business, told us they prefer the Verona hotel, so we stopped there for lunch at the otherwise empty restaurant.

Outside there were banks of blooming poinsettia shrubs losing their red bracts. The Chileans call poinsettias  the Corona de Inca, Flor de Navidad, Flor de Pascua, or Nochebuena, their name for Christmas Eve.

Elder Kennington ordered a sliced beef sandwich with porotos verdes, green beans. My sandwich was the same except with paltas, avocado. It was delicious.

Sunday morning we got lost looking for the Barrio Galvarino chapel, which the stake president had asked us to visit. Fortunately we came upon these elders walking along the street, and they showed us where it was. This happens to us often. They were thankful for the ride.

The chapel where the Galvarino Ward meets, which it shares with another ward. Something more common outside of Concepcion.

Following the meetings, we were invited to lunch at the home of Stake President Pauvif, who happens to be the head of Promasa in Chile, a wood-products business owned by friends of ours at home in our Ontario 3rd Ward. Two hungry elders had also been invited. Fortunately, Hna. Pauvif is a terrific cook, and she cooked a LOT of food for us.

I love the hanging photo display.

Following our dinner of vacuno, beef--a cut called choclillo, which Elder K. says is the best he's eaten so far--chicken, peas, choclo (sweet corn), salad, and "pie limon," which is a round vanilla cake topped with lemon-flavored meringue, all very delicious, the elders left us with a message from the Book of Mormon.

The handsome Pauvif family. Hna. Pauvif has a delightful laugh, and we had a very funny conversation. They have traveled widely, including to our very own Treasure Valley in eastern Oregon.

Monday morning we left Los Angeles reluctantly.  We kept telling each other "I really like it here!" and how we wished we could stay. At the crest of the hill driving out of town is the famous Cross landmark. We never did locate the Promasa plant, which means it's very easy for anyone except gringos to find, or the El Rincon Bed and Breakfast which is supposed to be just off the highway. Some other time, I guess.

Another reminder of home. I do like the windbreak poplars, which mark the boundaries of fields. 

Fortunately there were lots of signs for Salto del Laja, the Falls on the Rio Laja, so we were able to find it. Since it was quite cloudy and rainy, we had the place all to ourselves. We were early enough that the feria artesanal sellers had not yet set up their shops, which Elder K. was thankful for.

The Falls were big, loud and spectacular, with all the rain this winter.

 The fine mist on my camera lens makes the picture a little blurry.

 Here I am, also a little blurry, which is not a bad thing.

Thursday afternoon we made a return trip to visit Hna. Truxell, who is doing much better. The cancer surgery was successful, and she and her husband will be leaving their Conce apartment for the U.S. next week. Above is a photo taken from their pleasant apartment balcony.

A photo of Elder K. visiting with the Truxells, if only to remind myself of how much nicer their apartment is than ours.

Friday Andrea did not make it into the Centro for her weaving class, since her mother in Coronel was very sick. Manuel's father was in the hospital in Los Angeles as well, so he didn't make it to the Planning for Success Workshop since he wants to sign up for a PEF loan. We were going to celebrate Andrea's birthday this week, but that will be on hold for now.

Above, one of the ladies shows a page from her weaver's notebook, very typical of Chile. She has a design for a poncho, the yarn she is using, and the tag from the yarn so she can find it again.

Our favorite weaver working denim yarn into her squares.

Our felting teacher has, naturally, turned out to be an outstanding weaver. Here she shows several dresses she has made, which she has joined and decorated with crochet.

A poncho she has decorated, naturally, with a very pretty white wool felt flower.

In the Corta y Confeccion class, Hna. Dagnig shows us a dress made for dancing the Cueca. Since the Chilean Day of Independence comes up on September 18th, all the stores are now stocking child-size cueca dresses and ponchos, and red-white-and-blue table decorations. 

More Lirios de Cala, Calla Lilies, Zantadeschia Aethiopica.