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

Ten Things To Do In Chile

Ten Things To Do In Chile

“Latin America is very fond of the word “hope.” We like to be called the “continent of hope.” Candidates for deputy, senator, president, call themselves “candidates of hope.” This hope is really something like a promise of heaven, an IOU whose payment is always being put off. It is put off until the next legislative campaign, until next year, until the next century.”  Pablo Neruda

Eat at Borago. which is one of the top Michelin starred restaurants in the world.

See the street art that defines Valparaiso.

Visit the homes of Pablo Neruda.

See the Museum of Memory and Human Rights commemorating those who suffered under the Pinochet regime.

Visit Chiloe Island and hope it isn’t raining,

Visit the art museums and galleries of Santiago.

Eat Chilean empanadas (different from Argentinian ones). Drink Pisco Sours.(like Peruvian Pisco Sours). Have Chilean hot dogs (different from American ones.)

Have a ski day in the Andes Mountains.

See Castro which is famous for its colored wooden houses built on stilts. I love colored houses.

Spend a day visiting Chilean wineries and Vino Del Mar. 

Fly Safe,

JAZ