Chile: Muy Interesante!

History is as interesting as we make it. Sometimes its all too easy to lose sight of that when too many words and fancy gringo lingo get in the way. So here are a few tidbits that I consider muy interesante presented with the least amount of mumbo jumbo as I can manage. Enjoy!

* In Quinta Normal there lived a people that we know virtually nothing about

That mean’s no-one knows what they were called, their language or their beliefs.  We know they that lived because, in 1976, archaelogists dug up the remains of their burial sites. What we do know is that they existed around 180BC, smoked pipes and decorated their lips (in the same manner as Amazonian natives). It is also believed that they were the first people south of the Atacama who practiced agriculture.

* 2000 women died in a huge fire in the Iglesia de la Compania, Santiago

Thanks to the actions of an overly-ambitiious priest who brought in 7000 candles and filled the church with flammable tappestries. On that fateful night of 1863, the priest was overheard leaving the church muttering “prudencia, prudencia”  after lighting the candles. The church was so packed in the festival dedicated to Mary that when the fire began, the crowds waiting outside were too immense to let people pass.

* The most beautiful bird you will see in Chile is a Loica

The local indigenous believed that its song signalled coming misfortune, while the Spanish were so taken by “la finessa del rojo de su pecha” that they wrote that nothing else like it existed.  The striking red is said to be the remnants of the blood of a hunter who, when he tried to shoot the bird, backfired into his face instead. As he lay dying, the Loica brought him water and poured it into his mouth, thus staining his chest with the hunter’s blood.

My one and only shot of a Loica!

* The Chilenismo “Chanchunco City” has historical roots:

It originally meant “plenty of water” in Mapundungun and signified the area that is today Quinta Normal. Alameda was originally a river that joined with the Mapocho to form an oasis at Chanchunco. This area has always been settled (remember the first fact above?)

* Alonso de Ovalle described being in awe of Santiago’s monstrous apples and strawberries that were the size of human hands

That fact is self-explanatory – Santiago is and always has been a land ofwondrous fruit!

The work of the Spaniard Alonso de Ovalle should be compulsory reading for everyone

* Violeta Parra created a poetic language to incite revolution

This song will most likely baffle even the most fluent of Spanish-speakers, best ask a Chilean to translate it for you. It is a work of both art and genius. I say gracias por la Violeta

If you have any fun facts, please share them!

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