Saturday, October 30, 2010

Temuco, Villaricca and Curarrehue

Villarrica, it was raining so the Mapuche fair was not really open
I spent the night in Temuco after a 5 hour journey from Puerto Montt in a lovely clean hostel. The next day I visited a Mapuche fair and bought some Merkén ( a mapuche spice of toasted coriander, chilli and sometimes other things). I then got on a bus to Villarrica hoping to visit the Mapuche museum there, because it was Saturday, it was closed and it was also raining, so, back on the bus to Curarrehue. After much asking around in the pouring rain, I eventually found the Mapuche museum and it was open, hooray! Curarrehue counts 80% of its population as Mapuche so it was really interesting for me to visit. Mapuche people are still kind of fighting a war of independence against Chile. Currently they are still independent but it is how the politics can co-exist that is difficult. There are often Mapuche protests in Temuco. There is  a Mapuche language which they are trying to maintain (though the Mapuche also speak spanish) and many customs and foods. As the museum was quiet I had my own personal guide in the shape of a Mapuche man who took me around the museum and explained why each artefact is important in Mapuche culture. It really brought it alive for me, much better than just reading the descriptions. After visiting the museum I had another battle asking for directions (People were confused as to which end of the village the Cocina Mapuche was) I walked a long time in the wrong direction (still in the pouring rain) then a long time in the right direction, to finally find Cocina Mapuche where chef Anita Epulef served me some traditional Mapuche cuisine. It was absolutely delicious. I have never tasted anything quite like it. Unfortunately, it is quite possible I never will again, as most of the ingredients were native to Chile/ South America, such as piñoñes (the fruits of the araucania tree) so it will be hard if not impossible to get those flavours at home.
The Mapuche museum in Villarrica, closed unfortunately

A Mapuche Ruka, unfortunately it was part of the museum which was closed so I could not visit

Mapuche instruments inside the Mapuche museum in Curarrehue

A kind of Mapuche pushchair without wheels, it allows the baby to participate in family life

Mapuche textiles

An old style Mapuche weaving machine

Inside the main museum hall which is based on a Mapuche ceremony house with a central fire pit

The view out of the hall

The design of the museum is based on the Mapuche ceremony house which is circular and made of wooden posts with a central firepit

Another view of the Mapuche museum in Curarrehue

The museum really blends well with the landscape

A Mapuche man on his horse and some other buildings in Curarrehue

The view from Cocina Mapuche

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