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Published: November 11th 2010
The past few days have been unreal, very busy, and very fun. First, there was the village study last thursday and friday. Next, I had several days in Pucón, an adorable westernized mountain town near the Villarrica Volcán. Finally, the arrival in Valparaíso, where I am now settling into my apartment and enjoying an incredible view. But, more on Valparaíso another day because I will have nearly a month to talk about the lovely weather, ascensores, cerros (hills), and playa.
Entonces, I will begin with the village study. This was our final assignment for the program, and was basically an ethnography of a 'pueblo' in the area of Temuco. The job of my team was to go to the city and learn about daily life, culture, government, health and anything else we could. I was assigned to Lautaro, a city of about 35,000 people located half an hour away from Temuco. I had 3 other team members, Callie, Rebecca, and Sydney. We arrived on Thursday afternoon and spent our first hour or so walking across the town in search of a hostel. The first one we found was, supposedly, the only hostel in town but it was being renovated. The
Renato Hauri, Alcalde de Lautaro
Left to Right: Callie, Rebecca, Alcalde, Sydney, me
next one was full, and finally we found a rather pathetic hostel, but it had four beds and hot water. Unfortunately, there were no locks on the doors. We decided it was okay for $6,000 pesos a night, and went out to explore the town. We found a cultural center that was very beautiful, a library, and an 'experimental' center. That was all nice, and interesting to find in what appeared to be a quiet little town. At each place, we were told that there was a park nearby, Parque Isable Riquelme, which was muy bonita. Eventually we wandered across the Cautín river and found the park, which was beautiful. After living in a desert for 2 months it was really nice to go walk around in the woods for a while! We made friends with a quiltro, Daisy, and found a llama and some horses grazing on the soccer field. Everything was very relaxed, and not particularly surprising.
On Friday we went back to visit the librarian, Sonia, in the morning. She gave us some very good information about the town, the name Lautaro (Indigenous warrior in the 1600's), and other information about the town. Afterwards we decided
to look for a map in the Municipal building. This building had been damaged by the earthquake in march, so it was being renovated and appeared closed. It was actually open, and as we were wandering around looking for our map we stumbled across a sign, in poorly translated English, about health promotion and prevention in Lautaro. Interesting find for public health students. Suddenly there was a man, very excited to see some gringas, telling us that he was 'el mayor' and asking us to come to his office. We went into his office and sat on the gold- upholstered chairs, drank real coffee, and learned about his health promotion programs. He designed them based on a model from Mexico, and he had very interesting views on health. He was really excited to have us there, and called in his director of rural health to talk to us. After a long conversation, we were introduced to the director of rural health, a nutritionist. She was very nice, and soon took us to a CESFAM (Centro de Salud Familiar) and two CECOFs (Centro Comunitaria de Salud Familiar). We have been to many of these during our program, so they were not
Chile is a very dangerous country...
It's either earthquakes, tsunamis, or volcanos here.
too surprising. We also met the director of municipal health, who was very nice and gave us a lot of information about the community health program. Thankfully, after this, they gave us a break to have lunch at a Chifa China (chinese). Afterwards we were driven out into the country on dirt roads by Arturo, the director of the Mapuche Community Association of Lautaro. We were unsure of how this meeting would go because it has been extremely difficult for SIT to arrange meetings with Machis. So we met the Machi, a tiny woman who told us she was very poor and asked for "plato para azucar." This was not a great experience, because the Machi was presented as a tourist attraction who we could take some pictures with and pay for her time. We were interested in interviews and learning about her culture, but she was over 80 and hard of hearing, which exacerbated the ever-present communication problems. We also saw a Posta de Salud Rural in the region of Blanco Lepin. This posta was very sad, and didn't have running water or many resources. It shows the great health disparities faced by rural communities, particularly the Mapuche population
Our final day in Lautaro started early, because we were attempting to take a train from Lautaro to Temuco. We waited at the station for an half an hour, before a woman stuck her head out the window of her house and told us that there was no train for passengers on saturday morning. So we were stuck with the bus. We caught a micro to Temuco and found a nice coffee shop to hang out in until our meeting with the rest of our program at 12:00. With the program, we traveled to Pucón, which is a beautiful town in the middle of incredible volcanic mountains, including the Volcán Villarrica. We stayed in cabañas with wood stoves for heating- the normal form of heating in the south of Chile- which were perfect for toasting marshmallows. The second day in Pucón we did some sightseeing at Los Ojos de Caburgua and Lago Villarrica. The whole area is beautiful and there is always a nice mountain view in some direction, as long as the clouds clear for long enough to see. It rained for a large part of the time we were in Pucón, but it was still
beautiful. One of the highlights of my free time in Pucón was discovering Arabian Restaurant, a turkish/chilean restaurant. Delicious.
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