Myths Of Chiloe Island, Chile

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Myths of Chiloe Island,Chile

“After all, I believe that legends and myths are largely made of ‘truth’, and indeed present aspects of it that can only be received in this mode; and long ago certain truths and modes of this kind were discovered and must always reappear.” J.R.R. Tolkien 

There is a rich legacy of myth and magic infused into the island of Chiloe. Mythology and religion live side-by-side on these shores, which is a testament to a history molded by both the indigenous Mapuche and Spanish conquistadors. 

The Jesuits who came to Chiloe did not wipe out the Native culture but incorporated it into a religious context.

The wooden chapels of Chiloé are considered as UNESCO World Heritage sites for their cultural significance, blending native and Spanish beliefs into the churches.

Each chapel has southern-facing front doors to protect them from the rain.

We see many of them throughout the island.

  i appreciated the calming, subtle colors of the church’s interior and the solid construction of its supports, all made from wood.

You can see how functional and integrated into daily life these churches  are.

Residents of Chiloe call themselves Chilotes  instead of Chileans. Their remote location, enabled them to keep their identity and remained loyal to Spain for many years.

The first thing we seen in the town of Castro are small children dressed in the costumes of these mythological creatures.

I am surprised they let us photograph them.

The teacher tells me in Spanish “I am bruha (witch) like my people. I know who is bad and who is not. “

Witches and Warlocks are often blamed for the unexplainable things in Chiloe.

Every night there is a post card with a child’s drawing on our bed at Tierra Chiloe. It is one of the colorful supernatural mythological creatures of Chiloe with an explanation in English and Spanish. It is from books written by the hotel manager’s wife and illustrated  by their children.

La Pincoya is one of the most ancient mythical creatures In Myths and Legends of Chiloe.

It says that “If Pincoya appears to fishermen facing the sea, their catch will be abundant. If her back is to the sea, the fish will be few.”

Huenchula is a girl who falls in love with the King of the Sea.

“The legend of Huenchula lays down a number of rules about how to extract shell-fish from the sea:

Take them out by hand; don’t fight over them; don’t use wheel-barrels or trucks to extract them.”

 Fiura  is an ugly woman with bad breath. She lives in the woods and seduces young men before driving them insane.

Trauco, the forest troll, seduces young women and is blamed when they return — pregnant.

 Caleuche is a ghostly ship  which glows in the fog and travels at great speeds both above and below the water, emitting beautiful music, carrying the witches to their next stop.

Journeying through the archipelago, it’s crewed by shipwrecked sailors and fishermen who have perished at sea.

There are many more creatures. I realize at the end of my visit that these stories, like the scenery, architecture,  handicrafts and food is part of the essence of Chiloe and a bit of what makes it so special.

Fly safe,

JAZ

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Isla De Chiloe (Chiloe Island), Chile

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Isla de Chiloé, Chile

“In winter the climate is detestable, and in summer it is only a little better. I should think there are few parts of the world, within the temperate regions, where so much rain falls. The winds are very boisterous, and the sky almost always clouded: to have a week of fine weather is something”Charles Darwin about Chiloe Island

In the beginning of the 16th century the Inca Empire ended at Chiloe Island and a strange and unknown world began. I like going places that not a lot of people have heard of.

Chiloé is an archipelago in the Pacific Ocean composed of more than 40 minor islands, just off the Chilean coast. The archipelago was formed from lava and debris from the ring of volcanoes that cluster near the bottom of the world — producing scenery that can be other-worldly.

The Mapuche Indians and the Spanish lived there together for over three centuries. The culture in Chiloe is based on this relationship. There are many beautiful small wooden chapels and fascinating local mythology.

The Incas called it the place of seagulls. Up until recently it was only linked to the mainland by ferries.

Castro is the island’s main town. We saw the ‘palafitos’ (colorful houses on stilts) down by a beautiful lake, surrounded by rolling green hills.

The Incas were definitely right about the seagulls.

In Chiloe there is no excuse not to eat well. The food market in Castro is small but interesting filled with fresh local fruits and vegetables and plenty of fresh seafood. Chilean woman are surrounded by woolen sox, hats slippers and sweaters. There are strings of smoked dry mussels and boxes of multicolored potatoes.

Curranto is the national dish of Chiloe. Cooked in a hole in the ground covered with leaves, the dish consists of clams, mussels, smoked sausage, smoked ribs, chicken, and potato pancakes It is 6000 years old and the oldest dish in Chiloe. It is very delicious.

The people of Chiloe have been making clothes out of wool for centuries in the cold winter months. Sheep’s wool is a southern Chile speciality.

Dalcahue is about an hour from Castro. It is best known form its Feria Artensal Manos Chilotes and Sunday Market.

.Artisans here produce higher quantity handiwork than the commercial market.

Maybe the most representative local art is the one made with wood. Boats, houses, furniture and utensils highlight the work of the carpenters, who are artists in their construction of ships and fishing boats which are so necessary for both fishing and transportation.

A lot of rain falls here. It is green like Ireland.

There are sheep and cows throughout the landscape like New Zealand and Tasmania.

This time of year, there’s an added splash of color: bright yellow flowers known locally as espinilla coat the landscape, great for photographs but bad for agriculture — the plant is actually an invasive weed the islanders could do without.

Many of the buildings and houses on Chiloé also take advantage of the wooden architecture, and are often covered with wooden shingles called tejuelas cut from the native Alerce tree, to create roofs that can withstand the frequent rain showers in the region.

The more intricate the shingles, the fancier the people.

Our hotel, Tierra Chiloe is a perfectly designed wooden building with comfortable space and spectacular views.

Wooden furniture, Chilean books, woven baskets, woolen throws, wooden dishes and platters give an authentic yet modern feel. The food is some of the best I have had in Chile.

Every day we have excursions which include culture, nature and hiking.  The staff is attentive and personable.

The hotel’s beautiful wooden boat called Williche took us to small fishing villages.

I brought home a lot of seashells.

 All the guides were knowledgeable and fun. We spent most of our time with Gonzalo who bent over backwards to make sure we had an unforgettable experience.

Chiloe has a subtle beauty. It’s a place where it is quiet enough to take time away from the noise of your daily life to figure out what you really want. Sometimes what you really want is just to look out the window at the landscape.

Fly safe,

JAZ

Twenty-Five Things That I Wanted To Do In 2017 – Did I?

Go to Waiheke Island because I have heard so much about it from my family Yes
 Go To New Zealand. Yes
Take a helicopter ride to the top of a glacier. Tried there was a whiteout.
 Meditate every day. Still trying.

Do more yoga. About the same 

Go to Copenhagen. No but I went to Chile which also starts with a c.

See the sunset on the beach when I am home at sunset. Yes

Go to Sydney Australia. Yes and Melbourne.

Drink less coffee.  A bit less.

Drink less Spanish Lattes and Thai Iced Coffee.  (I love condensed milk coffees)  Yes.

Take more Ubers in the US. Yes

Go To Sweden. No

Be more positive. Trying

Be better about making plans with friends. Trying

Spend more time with my family. Trying

See Auschwitz. No

Go to Israel. Yes and Jordan.

Pay more attention to politics and get more involved. Yes

Go To Grouplove concert. (missed them so far this year). No

Go to Poland. No, but I went to Portugal which also starts with a P.

Go to Overlook Film Festival in Oregon. No

Be kinder. Yes

Go to Anderson, Wakeman and Rabin again-they are amazing. Congratulations Trevor on the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame . Trying

Think more before I speak. Trying

Eat less sugar. (I put this one in every few years)  Yes.

Not on list but I went to. Easter Island which is on my bucket list.

There are not so many yesses this year but a lot of trying. Trying is better than not trying.

Fly safe,

JAZ

 

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Birdman And The Destruction Of The Moai On Easter Island

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Birdman And The Destruction Of The Moai On Easter Island

“History teaches us many things. Most importantly, the things that made us who and what we are.” Robert Bonvill

When Jacob Roggeveen arrives on Easter Island he finds few trees, a couple of thousand people and nine hundred statues.

Both he and later Captain Cook surmise that there must have been a much larger population at one time to have built all these giant statues. The statues are lying on the ground in disarray and the natives ignore them.

The statues you see standing up now have been restored.

The story goes that at some point in the island’s history, the art and the increasing population were depleting the natural resources. There were too many trees being cut down. Without trees you have no canoes to get fish.There are no fishing nets to be made  without the mulberry trees. Rats were overrunning the island and eating the seeds and fruit.

Speculation is that the people were starving, fighting and blamed their idols.

They threw them down or lay them down and started killing each other. There is evidence of cannibalism.

The natives that were there when the Europeans came, follow a Birdman Cult, Tangata-Manu. The Rano Kau area has been considered sacred since ancient times. It is here in the fifteenth or sixteenth century that the Orongo ceremonial village is built for the new order.

After the fall of the Moai carving era society, new gods replaced the old ones while a struggle for power came to light. In order to settle this in a non-violent way, the Birdman Cult competition was established to help decide who would lead the Rapa Nui each year. They competed in a yearly Hunger Games-style race to retrieve an egg from an island in shark-infested waters with many deaths. The supreme deity of the Birdman Cult was the fertility god Make-Make.

There are petroglyphs that show the fish, marine life and canoes near Papa Vaku. Many Birdman petroglyphs were found near the Orongo village.

Over the next 150 years the remaining Rapa Nui culture shrunk to 150 people due mostly to European diseases.

The fate of the Rapa Nui on Easter Island is often used to illustrate how humans destroy their communities with environmental destruction and warfare. They had a highly developed civilization for about six hundred years and then they destroyed the environment and it ended in catastrophe.

We don’t know what is true and what isn’t, but the Moai stand as a reminder of the demise of an ancient culture.

As we deplete our natural resources, do we go the way of the Rapa Nui or do we hold ourselves accountable for our global excess?

Fly safe,

JAZ

 

The Moai Walked – Easter Island

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The Moai Walked – Easter Island

“It’s a toss up when you decide to leave the beaten track, many are called but few are chosen”. Somerset Maugham

No one can agree on the history of Easter Island. It was named Easter Island by the Dutch explorer Jacob Roggeveen, who landed there on Easter Day in 1722. They found a population of between 1,500 and 3,000 inhabitants and about 900 giant stone statues. The statues, called Moai, were carved from compressed volcanic ash and stood as high as thirty feet, weighing 90 tons.

The locals did not care to explain their significance or method of creation. Captain James Cook wrote in 1774. “We could hardly conceive how these islanders, wholly unacquainted with any mechanical power, could raise such stupendous figures,”

When did the first people arrive? Where did they come from? Why did they carve such enormous statues? How did they move them and raise them up onto platforms?

The missionary’s stories, the explorer’s diaries, the archaeologist’s shovel, the anthropologist’s bones and the Rapa Nui oral tradition have all revealed something of the story. No one agrees on any of the answers to these questions.

The Rapa Nui have a story. When the first king Hotu Matu’a arrived on the island he brought seven different races with him, which became the seven tribes of Rapa Nui.

All the Moai sites have names. It is believed that the seven statues at Ahu Akivi represent the original ancestors from the kings of other Polynesian islands. Most of the statues face inland guarding the island and protecting the inhabitants but these seven face the sea remembering where they came from.

The quarry is one of my favorite places on the island. It is on a volcano called Rano Raraku.

The steep path winds through an astonishing landscape of Moai – giant heads, broken bodies, some tilted and without order, some fallen facedown on the slope.

The astonishing discovery by Thor Heyerdahl of Kon Tiki fame was that these giant heads had giant bodies under the ground.

They say, when a statue was almost complete, the carvers drilled holes to break it off from the bedrock, then slid it down the slope into a big hole so they could stand to finish it. Eye sockets were carved once a statue was on the platform and white coral and obsidian eyes were inserted during ceremonies to awaken the moai’s power. I bought an artist’s model of the eye.

In some cases, the statues were adorned with huge cylindrical hats or topknots of red scoria, another volcanic stone.

The hats were made at another quarry that had the red scoria.

The faces of the statues look very human and more Peruvian than the current Rapa Nui. Thor Heyerdahl believes there were early Peruvians.

There is a lot of speculation on how the islanders moved the Moai from the quarry where they were carried to their many locations.

Archaeologists have proposed methods for moving the statues, using various combinations of log rollers, sledges and ropes.
In the Rapa Nui oral tradition, the Moai were infused with mana, a spiritual force from the ancestors and the Moai walked.

The Rapa Nui stories make just as much sense of the unknown as the scientific theories. There is no proof that it did not happen that way.

Fly safe,

JAZ

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving

“I celebrated Thanksgiving in an old-fashioned way. I invited everyone in my neighborhood to my house, we had an enormous feast, and then I killed them and took their land.” Jon Stewart

On Thanksgiving Day, I would ask my family what they were thankful for. My mother used to do that. It was a tradition – something I wanted to carry on from my childhood.  Thanksgiving is a day to remember to be grateful. We never prayed before a meal but one day a year we said thank you. 

I hadn’t spent Thanksgiving with my mother in many years. Our families lived back East and Thanksgiving was the holiday that my in-laws came to visit.  My sister-in-law loved to cook Thanksgiving dinner and we had it at their house. Since we were not cooking, we had Thanksgiving movie before going to dinner. There are always big movies that open on Thanksgiving. That was our family holiday tradition.  

When our life changed, Thanksgiving became one of those days that we didn’t know what do with.  We didn’t have a tradition anymore. There are so many expectations and family issues that come up with holidays. It is hard for me not to have a plan but I try to let go of that now.  Sometimes I do it at the house and sometimes we go somewhere.  We spend it with other people’s families or we do something by ourselves.  I miss the security of having a tradition but I have learned to go with the flow. Whatever we do, it always turns out to be fun and delicious – different, but fun. 

My mother died on the weekend before Thanksgiving so I am always a little sad now around the holidays.  Wherever I am celebrating, in my head, I hear my mother’s voice asking, what are you thankful for today?

Here is my list.

Sunsets. I can see the sunset on the beach every night.

The way the light hits my house in the morning.

My dog – even though he is not the same as my first dog.

My kids are happy, healthy and doing well.

 Morning coffee.

I’m still traveling.

Having an amazing day in a country not your own.

A great walk through the Venice Beach canals to have lunch.

Opening a beautifully wrapped present.

An interesting conversation.

The feeling I have in an airport.

Someone who makes me laugh.

A good hair day.

Fun with my friends.

A great movie,  museum, play, ballet or TV show.

Dessert.

Kindness.

Walking or driving by a beautiful street art mural.

Having an amazing meal.

Pizza night.

Great music and  rock concerts.

Getting lost in a book.

Healthyish.

Writing something that I’m proud of.

My favorite jeans.

Shoes that do not hurt.

The endorphin rush after exercise.

Still able to have some of my photographs and art.

Hitting every green light on Venice Blvd on the way home (especially at Lincoln Blvd – the world’s longest red light)

Happy Thanksgiving.

JAZ

Arriving On Easter Island

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Arriving On Easter Island (Isla de Pascua)

“The farther you go, however, the harder it is to return. The world has many edges, and it’s easy to fall off.” Anderson Cooper

The idea of a bucket list is weird. The thought that there is a set number of activities that you have to do in the world to die happy is depressing.  Life changes and things happen and your goals and desires change with that. I love lists. I make them all the time. They are more travel goals than bucket lists. The thing about these lists is to never finish them and always add new ideas.

The plane landed at another place on my list that I can check off – Easter Island. It is one of the most remote places in the world and has all those statues. We have flown six hours from Santiago to get here. You can only fly from Santiago or Tahiti on Latam Airlines to get there.

When you land on Easter Island you’ll notice that the runway appears to be really huge, because it’s really huge.  Back when NASA was working out the flight plans for the space shuttle in the 1980s, Easter Island aligned perfectly with one of the designated landing spots and the US government made a deal with the government of Chile to upgrade and extend the runway on Easter Island in exchange for possibly letting the space shuttle land there in case of an emergency.  Although never needed by NASA the runway expansion helped Easter Island greatly, as this meant larger planes could ferry tourists and supplies to the island.

In 2007 the Explora all-inclusive hotel opened on Easter Island. The hotel has expansive windows and outdoor areas to see the beautiful views on the south side of the island. The air smells so good. It feels like pollution has not yet come to this remote part of the world.

We arrive at lunchtime and a woman starts talking to us. I travel alone often and I’m always in awe of people who can do that. We are a little surprised but chat a bit with her about the island.

After lunch, we are taken on our first tour of the Moai with two couples from Missouri. Meeting Americans abroad is tricky in Trump’s America. We are sure they are Trump supporters and to them we must be California liberals. We know they own guns. In our minds this means that they must like racist, narcissistic bullies. Someone asks me what I do? I say that I  write a travel blog. Another one snaps, ”I don’t want to be in your blog.” I want to answer that I’m way too self-centered to write about you. This isn’t starting well.

We make a decision to not talk about politics and not be those judgmental California liberals that we were about to become. Those people turn out to be nice and interesting. I don’t know who they voted for but they aren’t thrilled with what is happening in the country now either. They became the people who experienced Easter Island at the same time in the same way that we did. They will always be part of our amazing memories here. The woman who snapped at me wasn’t feeling well and we were tired from jet lag and the long plane rides. The lesson for me is don’t judge people on your worst traveling day.

It is the tours to the Moai and surrounding areas and especially the staff and tour guides that really make this place so wonderful.

They are young, passionate, fun, very knowledgeable with great communication skills and a lot of information.

We spend most of our time with Bruno and Ika. Bruno is Chilean and had worked at Explora in the Atacama desert.

Ika is Rapa Nui and from the island. It is interesting to get their different take on the Moia stories.

Paulina the hostess is always around making sure that everything is going smoothly with kindness and humor.

Francisco the manager is always visible and asking about your day. I have amazing massages with Moea at the end of hiking days.  The girl who runs the gift shop makes a pharmacy run for me.

The friendliness and kindness of Explora is catching. We are having lunch a few days later. A couple sits down next to us. ” So did you just get here? Where are you from?” I ask.

I will always have a bucket list of places but it is the people you meet who live and work in these places and the encounters with other travelers that shapes your travel experience.

Fly safe,

JAZ