Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Mines of Lota

The third week of October was sunny and in the 70s.  Several Chileans told us it was getting too warm.
We attended Barrio San Vicente in the Talcahuano North Stake, a warm, friendly ward. We made contact with several people who needed help with their PEF loans or were interested in a better education.

On Monday we stopped at the mission office to unload some of the things we have been accumulating in our little apartment. We have been informed that we will not be moving south to Temuco after all, but staying in Concepción. It is still good to get rid of things you don't need. 

Above is a photo of Elder Kauer's shelves for extra missionary clothing. Missionaries can choose what they need or drop off what they don't use anymore. Whatever is too worn out, Hna. Kauer crochets into round rugs.

Tuesday we attended a zone conference with the Concepción elders and the elders and sisters serving in Chiguayante. We are impressed with these young missionaries.

On Saturday, the senior missionaries went on an outing down to Lota, south of Coronel.

The Chiflón del Diablo coal mine, which closed in 1997, is in Lota. Chiflón means a draft of air, since the mine is naturally ventilated. The mine follows a seam of bituminous coal 12 miles under the ocean, although the seam itself goes on for miles.  It was closed for economic reasons. 

Here we are in our hard hats, which are colored according to status. Blue is for mechanics and electricians, red and yellow are for manual laborers, and white is for managers. We wore 5 lb. battery packs, which last for a day.

Our guide, Daniel, son and grandson of illiterate miners, was a miner until 1996, when 16,0000 miners in four mines were fired overnight. He is no taller than I am. Here he is explaining about the canary cage and different ways to avoid death by odorless gases. He sang us a heart-rending rendition of the miner's hymn.

Walking down the mine while you could still stand up.

Elder Kauer and Elder Balden had to walk doubled over to get through some of the tunnels.

It was disconcerting to walk on wet sand and find piles of seashells on the tunnel floor. 

A seam of coal encased in petrified wood. Daniel told us the mine is too young to have been compressed enough to become anthracite coal or to contain diamonds.

Daniel took a photo of me pulling myself up the wet, steep tunnel to the surface. Small horses were pressed into service hauling loads of coal up these steep shafts. After two years they would go blind from walking in the dark.

From the mouth of the mine, you could see where you had been underwater, where the spit of land comes out. The mine is as deep as one mile under the ocean, and tunnels were dug ten feet deep and shored with oak beams, so that when the weight of land and water inevitably compressed the shaft to five feet, you could still crawl through.

After the mine tour, we walked through a reconstruction of the company store and living quarters of the miners, built for the filming of the movie "Subterra."

The Pulpería, general store, was actually built on a larger scale than the original buildings.

Inside the general store, with its flour, garlic, peppers, soap, vinegar, and bag after bag of yerba mate that the miners drank daily.

Up to fourteen people lived in each two-level apartment. Downstairs was the living and cooking area.

Each upstairs room usually had four beds, in which 3-4 people slept each night.

The communal horno, oven, made of adobe and straw. To test the heat of the oven, you threw in a little flour. If it cooked too fast, you would sweep the inside of the oven with a wet broom. When it was the right temperature, you placed your loaves inside, marked with your particular mark, then covered the oven with a wet rag. When the rag was dry, the bread was done. 

On the other side of Lota, down Avenida Cousiño, was the mansion of the Cousiño family, owner of the Chiflón del Diablo mine. Proceeds from the mine, besides building the mansion and the extensive gardens, went to building a Catholic cathedral and also were paid to city officials.

Rooms inside the mansion had beautiful floors, rich furnishings, and fine windows.

Toward the gardens was the estate administrator's house, now being restored.

A glass-paned plant conservatory

Piscina de espejo, reflecting pool or mirror pool.

Although these are marked Paulownia, they do not have the heart-shaped leaves typical of Paulownias. I think this is a mis-marked azalea.

Venus surrounded by calla lilies and lotus flowers. There was a wedding going on nearby. If you were in love, you were supposed to stand with your back toward Venus and throw a coin in the fountain. If you weren't in love, you could just throw in a coin without going to all that trouble.

Sculpture of a young boy pulling a splinter out of his foot, supposedly based on the naughty son of the mine owner and his wife.

Me standing in front of one of the cannon overlooking the bay.

Puerta de Lota, the port of Lota with its fleet of fishing boats.

A pretty water feature behind the mansion.

On our way back to Concepción, we turned onto the highway to Santa Juana to the Hacienda Patagonia, an upscale restaurant. It was Hna. Bluth's birthday, so we were treated to a royal buffet.

The hardworking senior missionaries of the Concepción and Concepción South mission offices: the Baldens, Kauers, and Pendleys.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Return to Santiago

We were invited to Manolito's 7th birthday party, so we took the micro bus to Avenida Bulnes and walked the rest of the way to Andrea and Manuel's house.

Piña, pineapple, is Manolito's favorite, but he had eaten too many completos to want much cake. We gave him a nice art paper tablet and watercolor pencils.

Andrea served us completos, hot dogs on buns with mayonesa, tomatoes, ketchup, and rinsed chucrut, sauerkraut. We may eat sauerkraut more often, now that we know it should be rinsed before eating.

Andrea wondered if I could make business cards for her. Since I only had Microsoft Office to work with in the Centro, I used the drawing tools in the Insert Shapes tab in Word to recreate her Ayun--illuminated heart--logo, then inserted it into a Publisher business card template. She was thrilled.

On Sunday we attended Barrio Independencia in the Talcahuano North Stake, at Hna. Rosa's recommendation. This was an extremely well-run ward, with good priesthood leadership and excellent teaching.

Hno. Seguel told us we were invited to a meeting in Santiago with the LDS Church general authority Elder Enrique Falabella, who oversees the Perpetual Education Fund and Self Reliance initiative. Above, white oxalis, which is overtaking the fading yellow oxalis we have seen all over Concepcion,  blooms outside the LDS Institute parking garage.

We headed north toward Chillán and Linares, past the Arauco wood products plant in the morning sun.

We joined Bro. Seguel for the drive to Santiago. One of the Seguels' neighbors's beautiful lavender-colored crape myrtle (I think!) blooms along the street.

The cordillera was in view for most of the drive.

We stopped in Talca north of Linares, a very pleasant municipality, so Hno. Seguel could give a check to a Perpetual Education Fund participant, making it possible for  him to continue his stalled education. He was stunned and grateful.

Bro. Seguel told us many buildings in Talca were originally of adobe brick, like the wall above, which has not fallen down yet because it is not very high. The 2010 earthquake was devastating for Talca because of so many adobe brick buildings.

Between Talca and Rancagua we passed dozens of businesses along the highway, including row upon row of basket displays. Even without Elder K.'s stern warning, I realize I will have to leave the baskets behind.

Also many funeral pots and fountains.

Rancagua is where the cordillera and the Pacific Ocean are fairly close together. This area is also dryer than south toward Concepcion, making it excellent for growing wine grapes.

The fields were larger as we drove north toward Santiago. The larger fields have proven more productive than small fields broken off from larger farms, which in some areas are not even cultivated anymore.

While Santiago boasts many new buildings, in the Providencia district, where the LDS Church headquarters are found, you can see some fine old buildings, often university classrooms or fraternity houses.

After our arrival, we had enough time to attend a session at the LDS Temple. The grounds are always beautiful. Here the dimorfoteca -- osteospermum dimorphotheca, African Daisy or Cape Daisy, which love, love, love Chile--are blooming like crazy.

We got out of the sealing session pretty late. The temple is beautiful at night.

We stayed in the Bonaparte Hotel, a few blocks away. The shower must have had a water restriction device on it, but the bed was comfortable.

In the morning we attended meetings with gentle, deep-voiced Elder Falabella, who was born and raised in Guatemala; Guido Lucas, the newly called, dynamic and well-spoken South America South Area Self-Reliance Manager, who is from Argentina; and the charming, redoubtable Uruguayan David Rodriguez, PEF Project Manager, who sprinkled funny dichos, or sayings, throughout his comments. 

I had to write some of the sayings down and ask what they meant, for example, "meter la cuchara" means stick your spoon in the middle of things, like the English saying "jump right in"; "la realidad milanesa," referring to the reality of a Milanese breaded meat cutlet, a popular menu item in South America, especially on the other side of the cordillera; "calma la tripa," break for lunch so you can calm your growling tummy; and a reference to Elder Kennington's eloquence with the ladies (something I informed Bro. Rodriguez about,) as "buen labios," good lips.

Elder Kennington and I  in a photo taken by Elder Livingston, senior missionary serving with his wife in Republica, Santiago

We especially wanted to thank Daglin, the daughter of our Concepcion volunteer Hna. Debora, who is our go-to expert on questions pertaining to PEF, and who works in the offices here in Santiago. She has been invaluable to us over the last few months.

Also at our meeting was one of my favorite Chilenas, Hna. Calquin, who posed for a picture. She was demonstrating a few Cueca steps in the hallway, and lamenting the fact that she had given up the dance for the length of her 2-year mission.

While waiting for Hno. Seguel and Elder K. in the church headquarters parking lot, I had a nice conversation with the artist who makes the copper engravings I have seen hanging in the homes of both Concepcion mission presidents. I'm just sorry I didn't take a picture of him, with his weathered face and curling white hair. I ended up buying several beautiful Christmas cards with copper medallions on them, for $1.6 mil pesos each, about $2.75 U.S. dollars.

Hno. Seguel had some business to attend to downtown, so we were able to see more fine old buildings. Micro buses and colectivos, the black and yellow Chilean taxi, are a common sight in the urban center.

 I brought my Black Skirt and my Brown Skirt to wear on this trip, no surprises there. Here I am wearing my Brown Skirt in front of the Municipal Theater of Santiago. The fingers behind my head didn't belong to Elder K.

 Outside Santiago on the drive back.

 I believe this is an example of retamo in tree form, as Hna. Verdugo explained it to me.

Although we had been over-fed the whole trip, Hno. Seguel wanted to treat us to an example of "lomo a lo pobre," poor man's loin steak, traditionally served with two eggs, french fries, and caramelized onions, at a roadside restaurant. It was more than a poor man could probably afford, although it was tasty. Elder K. and I shared a plate, and it was still too much. We had to ask for ketchup.

The sun setting on our drive back to Chillán and Concepción.