21 February 2008

Gone Fishing

Here is my attempt to capture last night's full lunar eclipse. No, the moon doesn't jiggle and squirm across the night sky in the Southern Hemisphere. I like the effect, though.

We're off to
Villarrica/Pucón for the next week to swim, fish, explore, eat, drink, etc. It's the last week before the summer officially ends and everyone heads back to school. I would say it's like Labor Day weekend in the US but it sounds like for most this is the last week to be spent away from home. Many people return to Santiago next week to prepare for the new school year. Hopefully we'll get lucky and it will feel slow and sleepy down there. No matter, I'm pretty excited.

The Villarrica/Pucón area constitutes the northern top of the Chilean Lake District, land of volcanoes, indigenous forests, and the Mapuche. The Lake District extends south down to Puerto Montt which is considered the northern top of Patagonia. There are something like a dozen or so major lakes in this region and hundreds of minor ones, all glacial, and many date back to the last era of glaciation, roughly 10,000 years ago. It's also home to the second longest-lived tree on the planet (following the sequoia), the alerce tree. Known as lahuen and considered sacred to the Mapuches it was nearly harvested to extinction by the Europeans.

The rich and fertile soil of this region was quite attractive to the Spanish Conquistadors of the mid-16th century and they fought the Mapuches for it for nearly one hundred years. It wasn't until the early 19th century and the inexhaustible work of the Jesuits that the Maphuche dominance began to wane. It was during this time, about the 1850s, that the tide of German immigrants waxed. Today this is reflected in the architecture of the region as well as some of the vocabulary:
küchen anyone?

Conflicts with the Maphuches still continue, though it's more a war of cultural, political, and economic attrition than outright genocide like the days of yore. There seems to be constant problems between traditional land holdings and private developers, lumber and other exploitative resource companies, the Chilean government in general, as well as the tourist industry. Read all about their struggles on their website. Not a pretty picture.

I don't think I'll try to summit the volcano this go-around. I see no reason to walk around on snow without the benefit of skis and I'm pretty sure what white stuff remains up there would resemble many things but snow. No, I think I'll concentrate on renewing my love for standing in rivers and casting microscopic fuzzy things into their ripples all with the patience and hope that I can fool an ancient creature into thinking that the fuzzy thing is something to eat. If I can lure a few silver flashes out of their water and rock holdings and convince them that what I'm offering is something delectable and sweet and not pointed and sharp then I will be content to stare up at the also ancient cone and imagine what it will be like to ski down from it sometime this winter.

Until then, saludos!

Henry Thomas: Fishing Blues.mp3

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