Interview with Editorial Dansema

As someone who loves to read, I have always felt discouraged by the high prices of books here in Chile.  The unfortunate effect of those prices has meant that books are not a common gift and seen as more of a luxury item, buffeted even further down the scale of desired items due to the popularity and ease of phones, computers and the internet.

Coming across Editorial Dansema, then, is something of a revelation. Well-priced kids books made in Chile? Umm yes please! Here I chat with Maike Pakroppa, the force behind the small business.

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Ten Questions with Editorial Dansema/ Diez Preguntitas con Editorial Dansema

Who is Editorial Dansema/ Quien es Editorial Dansema?

We are a family company, created by parents thinking of their children. We know that, as parents, finding well-priced and good quality books in Chile can be a difficult job.  The Leolibros format is very popular in Europe and has supported the reading of generations, and we though that by bringing it to Chile we could do the same here, showing parents that buying good books needn´t cost clp$5000 or more.

Somos una editorial familiar, creada por padres pensando en sus hijos. Sabemos, como padres, la difícil tarea de encontrar libros que sean económicos y de buena calidad. Vimos que los formatos de los Leolibros son famosos en Europa, y han aportado el gusto por la lectura a muchas generaciones. Nos gustaría que en Chile los padres vean que para comprar un libro entretenido no tienen que gastarse 5 mil pesos o más.

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How did Editorial Dansema begin/ Como empezo Editorial Dansema?

I spent a lot of time cuddling and reading with my eldest son after he was born. We´d always read a book before bed and talk about it together. I have always loved to read and grew up with lots of books at home, so when I had children I wanted the same for them, something that could be fun for them as well as educational. My husband didn´t have the same interest in books as I did as he grew up without them, but eventually his enthusiasm for them began to grow as he witnessed us, and soon we began fighting over who would read the bedtime story! He would then read in Spanish and me in German, though I was always at an advantage because it was easy for me to find good books cheaply overseas, whereas he would struggle finding the same in Chile.  From there the idea came to bring books in Spanish to Chile, so we acquired the licence to sell PIXI books here.  PIXI is an integral part of German culture, something which nearly all Germans know.  We want to offer the same extensive range of children´s books here, in the reach of everyone so that all children can grow up loving to read.

Cuando nació nuestro hijo mayor yo siempre disfruté leerle mucho. Pasamos mucho tiempo abrazados leyendo y conversando sobre los libros. Antes de acostarse siempre le leí una historia. Desde que fui niña siempre me han gustado los libros y siempre teníamos muchos en la casa. Quería pasar la misma pasión a mi hijo y además de ser un pasatiempo entretenido también es un pasatiempo educativo. Mi esposo no tenía la costumbre de leer por diversión, pero se dejó llevar por nuestro entusiasmo y  empezamos literalmente a pelearnos los instantes de lectura por ejemplo antes de acostarse, él leyendo siempre en español y yo siempre leyendo en alemán. Pero yo siempre tuve la ventaja de tener una abundancia de libros buenos a precios muy alcanzables y mi esposo siempre terminó frustrado de su búsqueda de libros a cierto presupuesto en Chile. Es ahí cuando surgió la idea de llevar a Chile libros entretenidos, variados, coleccionables y a un buen precio. Adquirimos la licencia de los libros PIXI alemanes, que son ya parte integral de la cultura alemana y donde casi no hay alemán que no los conozca. Queremos ofrecer una extensa variedad de libros infantiles en este mismo formato, en un español latino y al alcance de todos, para que los niños puedan descubrir esa pasión por la lectura desde chiquititos.

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Why do you think reading is important and why should it be promoted in Chile/ Por que es importante a leer y por que necesita ayuda en Chile?

Children, in general, love to read, and the more they do so, the more a love of reading will continue as they get older. This is something that is still little understood by adults here in Chile, and which should be promoted by the government, the educational sector and by businesses. Reading to children contributes, not only to a lifelong reading habit, but to the emotional development of the child. If you can spend quality time with your children, reading and discovering stories, you allow them to see from things from a different perspective. It has been proven that children who read often do better after they leave school, because their reading comprehenson has helped the to be more creative and with better memory skills, and able to acquire knowledge in a more natural way.  This has been proven the world over in various studies.

A los niños, en general, les encanta que les lean. Esta actividad contribuye en gran medida a la tarea de fomentar el gusto por la lectura en los niños. Pero falta crear conciencia en los adultos en Chile. Es algo que debería ser promovido por los gobiernos, el sector educacional, incluso desde las empresas. Leerles a los niños contribuye, no solo a crear un vínculo y hábito en los niños que les servirá para toda la vida, sino que aporta al crecimiento emocional y a la relación con ellos. Se puede pasar tiempo de calidad juntos con los niños y a través del contenido del libro, mostrarle la propia perspectiva y otras por supuesto.  Está comprobado que los niños a los cuales se les lee constantemente les van mucho mejor después en el colegio, porque su comprensión de lectura aumenta considerablemente, y esto ayuda a adquirir el conocimiento de forma más natural. Se fomenta la creatividad en ellos y la memoria. Todo esto, no solo lo decimos nosotros, sino que lo respaldan estudios en todo el mundo.

 

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Which is your favorite book from the collection/ Cual libro es tu favorito?

Our first collection is a mix of very different and entertaining stories, and it is difficult to choose one. My children love the classic ¨El Lobo y los Siete Cabritos¨ – all generations love the classics! My eldest son lost his first tooth recently and so loved to read ¨Maxi y el Diente Suelto¨.  My two-year old twins always laugh a lot with ¨Jan y Leo: Pelotos Locos¨.  Jan and Leo really want to play with their ball, but they have a very grumpy neighbour who does let them play until something very funny happens (read it to find out what!).  I was born in a small town but I still learnt something when I read ¨Descrubre la Granja¨.

Nuestra primera colección de mix de historias tiene historias muy distintas y entretenidas. Es difícil elegir uno. Actualmente a mis hijos les encanta el clásico “El lobo y los siete cabritos”, parece que generación por generación los clásicos nunca fallan. A mi hijo mayor se le cayó su primer diente hace poco y encantó leer como pasó esta misma etapa Maxi con su diente suelto. Y mis gemelos de dos años siempre se ríen con Jan y Leo: Pelotas locas. Jan y Leo tienen unas tremendas ganas de jugar a la pelota, pero tienen un vecino que no los deja jugar hasta que sucede algo muy divertido. Yo nací en un pueblo chico, pero todavía me asombra aprender por ejemplo cuántos huevos pone una gallina en el libro “Descubre la granja”.

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What is the publishing process like/ Como es el process para publicar libros?

So far we have only published the stories that we loved in German, which we have translated into Spanish and published in the special format of 10 x 10cms.  We know that there are many more marvellous stories still to edit and bring to children, so we hope to work on publishing Chilean authors and illustrators.in 2018.

Estamos recién empezando y hasta ahora hemos publicado solamente las historias que nos encantaron en alemán y las traducimos al español en este formato especial de 10 x 10 cms. Pero sabemos que hay muchas historias maravillosas para editar y poner al alcance de todos los niños. Esperamos poder trabajar con editores, escritores e ilustradores chilenos y publicar sus ideas, a partir del 2018. 

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How has reception been in Chile/ Como ha sido la recepcion en Chile?

Right up until now we have had a very good reception. We know that this year (2017) has been particularly difficult for the sector, but the good price and quality of our books has helped with that.  Each week we are improving our sales points and slowly we are becoming more recognized.  Already we have sent out books outside of Santiago, purely by word of mouth alone.

Hasta el momento hemos tenido una muy buena recepción. Sabemos que este año 2017 ha sido particularmente difícil para el sector, pero la relación precio/calidad de nuestros libros se presenta como una oportunidad en estos momentos.  Estamos semana a semana aumentando los puntos de venta y poco a poco haciéndonos más conocidos. Ya tenemos pedidos desde regiones y eso que ha sido sólo por el boca a boca.

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What is the story behind PIXI books/ Cual es la historia de los libros PIXI?

The books were created in 1954 in Germany by Editorial Carlsen and are known as PIXi in Europe.  More than 450 million copies have been sold in Germany alone, with some 13 milllion sold each year.  More than 2000 titles and 200 series´ have been published, holding the Guiness World Record as the company with the most illustrated books sold worldwide.  They have been translated into Arabic, Albanian, Cantonese, Croatian, English, French, Danish, Dutch,  Finnish, Mandarin, Macedonian, Polish, Swedesh and Serbian, and now (by us), Spanish.

Los libros fueron creados en 1954 en Alemania por la Editorial Carlsen y son conocidos por su marca PIXI en Europa. Más de 450 millones de ejemplares han sido vendidos desde que salieron a la venta los primeros Pixis sólo en Alemania, y se venden en promedio 13 millones de ejemplares por año. Más de 2.000 títulos y más de 200 series se han publicado hasta el momento y está actualmente postulando para los Record Guiness como la serie de libros ilustrados más exitosa de todos los tiempos.  Hasta ahora los “Pixi-libros” han sido traducidos al: inglés, francés, holandés, danés, finlandés, polaco, sueco, serbio, albanés, árabe, chino, croata, macedonio y chino mandarín. Ahora, a partir del 2017 al español en Chile.

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Now for something more general! Where is your favorite place in Chile / Donde esta tu lugar favorito en Chile?

I fell in love with Quintay at first sight. When I went for the first time you still had to go along a dirt road; it has changed a lot since then and not always for the better – it´s more popular and busy now but it remains a place that I love to escape to for the day from Santiago. We dream of having a house there one day, with a view of that marvellous sea!

Me enamoré de Quintay a primera visita. Cuando fui por primera vez todavía había camino de tierra para llegar a este maravilloso pueblo. Cambió mucho desde ahí y no todo para mejor, es mucho más popular y frecuentado ahora, pero sigue siendo nuestro escape por el día de Santiago y soñamos con tener una casa con vista al mar ahí algún día.

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Maike and two of her children.

Where is your favorite restaurant/ Donde esta tu restaurant favorito?

Unfortunately, my favorite restaurant, Alto Peru, closed while we were abroad and I still haven´t found a replacement! But, in general, I love the wharf at Quintay: fresh seafood, good service and the best view.

Lamentablemente, mi restaurante favorito Alto Peru cerró mientras estuvimos viviendo en el extranjero. Todavía no he encontrado un reemplazo. Pero, en general, me encanta la caleta de Quintay para comer: pescados y mariscos frescos, buen servicio y con la mejor vista al mar.

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Quintay

What is next for Editorial Dansema/ Que es el proximo para Editorial Dansema?

We want to develop the format of our books and include technology so that we offer something innovative, practical, functional, easy to use and collect and, above all, with attractive and well-priced content so that adults and children alike learn to love reading.

Queremos innovar aún más en el formato de los libros y vincularlos con la tecnología (específicamente la de realidad aumentada) para que sean innovadores, prácticos, funcionales, fáciles de llevar, coleccionables y sobre todo que tengan un contenido atractivo a un precio conveniente, para fomentar en los niños y sus papás la lectura por gusto.

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The Nitty Gritty

Website: http://www.editorialdansema.cl/

Email: contacto@editorialdansema.cl

Instagram here

Facebook here

* Photos by Editorial Dansema.  This post has not been sponsored!

 

LEOLIBROS-LOGO


Need more great ideas this Christmas?  Have a look at

Beautiful kids clothes from ÑIRRE BEBE;

books and handmade creations from PAJARITO DE MIMBRE;

delicious cakes, pastries and meals from LA COETZINA;

handmade watches from TTANTI;

fun clothes for adults and children from LA PITUKA;

sunglasses made from recycled jeans and fishing nets from KARUN;

 

 

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La Coetzina Pies & Pastries

As we come into the silly season, the question on everybody´s lips is ¨where do I buy those flaming mince pies?!¨ Christmas is when many of us expats give in to nostalgia and start reminiscing about the food joys of our youth: the Christmas pudding, the trifle and ambrosia, roast dinners and pies … This is the time when I give in to the urge and start traipsing around the city in search of advent calendars and imported biscuits and tightly boxed up (and expensive) puddings, with the hope that each bite will transport me into the past when Christmas was simply the most magical moment of the year.

A medida que entramos en la temporada navideña, la pregunta en boca de todos es “¿dónde comprar esos pastelitos que recuerdan mi niñez?!¨ La Navidad es cuando muchos de nosotros, los expatriados, nos entregamos a la nostalgia y comenzamos a recordar las alegrías de la comida de nuestra juventud: el pudín de Navidad, la trifle y la ambrosía, las cenas al horno y pasteles … Este es el momento en que cedo ante el impulso y empiezo a pasear por la ciudad en busca de calendarios navideños y galletas importadas, y postres caros, con la esperanza de que cada mordisco me transportara al pasado cuando la Navidad era simplemente el momento más mágico del año.

Allow me to introduce La Coetzina South African Pies & Pastries, a home-based business that will not only blow your Christmas-crazed mind, but that also ticks all those boxes that are important to me: small and local. I have even wrangled a special offer for my readers too  – 10% if you order before the end of February!! Now let´s turn the spotlight on Adel to find out more about her delicious creations …

Permítanme presentar La Coetzina South African Pies & Pastries, un negocio hogareño que no solo hará volar su mente enloquecida por la Navidad, sino que también cumple todos los requisitos que son importantes para mí: pequeño y local. Ofrezco una oferta especial para mis lectores: ¡10% si compras antes de finales de febrero! Ahora centrémonos en Adel para saber más sobre sus deliciosas creaciones …

offer_ 10% off if you quote querida recoleta! valid until the end of february 2018

Ten Questions with Adel from La Coetzina/Diez Preguntas con Adel de La Coetzina

La Coetzina is an online bakery, primarily of South African goodies, but with a lot of international favorites, that strives to create nostalgia with their home baked and cooked food. Order before Thursday with delivery on Friday each week.  80% of items can be made vegan, gluten-free, whole grain or lactose free. 

La Coetzina es una panadería online, principalmente sudafricana, pero con muchas preparaciones internacionales, que se esfuerza por crear nostalgia con su comida casera y cocinada. Ordene antes del Jueves con entrega los Viernes de cada semana. El 80% de los artículos se pueden hacer veganos, sin gluten, integrales o sin lactosa.

 Who is La Coetzina/Quien es La Coetzina?

My name is Adel and I am from the outskirts of Cape Town in South Africa. I have no formal training but grew up with two grandmas who inspired me. My mum´s mom baked cakes for a living and taught me about fondant and the tricks of the trade since I was a teeny weeny little girl. My dad´s mum was a hardcore farm woman who taught me about farm food, life and the basics- the perfect balance.  My fiance Carlos helps me in the kitchen.

Mi nombre es Adel y soy de Sudáfrica. No tengo entrenamiento formal pero crecí con dos abuelas que me inspiraron. La mamá de mi mamá horneaba pasteles para ganarse la vida y me enseñó sobre el fondant y los trucos del oficio, ya que yo era una niñita chiquita. La madre de mi padre era una granjera que me enseñó sobre lo básico de la comida y la vida en la granja. El equilibrio perfecto. Mi novio Carlos me ayuda en la cocina.

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Where the magic begins – baking headquaters!

What made you move to Chile/Que te motivo para venir a Chile?

After living in Spain for 4 years, (and eleven years of traveling) I decided it was time for a new adventure.  Ipacked my bags and came to Chile to teach English at an institute for one year. I met Carlos halfway through that year and it was love at first sight! One thing led to the other and here I am.

Después de vivir en España durante 4 años, decidí que era hora de una nueva aventura, hice las maletas y vine a Chile a enseñar inglés en un instituto por un año. Conocí a Carlos a la mitad de ese año y fue amor a primera vista. Una cosa llevó a la otra y aquí estoy.

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Photo of Adel

What made you start your own business/Que te hizo comenzar tu propio negocio?

I ALWAYS wanted to have a bakery. When I was a kid my Barbie dolls even had a bakery.  Because the one cent coin in South Africa is really brown and small, I used to pretend it was my Barbies´ chocolate cookies. I didn´t play house house when I was little, I just pretended to have a bakery. When I was in South Africa in March 2016, I was watching TV while visiting my family when Carlos called me and asked to  check a specific website. It was La Coetzina. He bought a web domain, came up with the name and surprised me.

SIEMPRE quise tener una panadería. Incluso mis Barbies, cuando era niña,tenían una panadería. Jugaba con las pequeñas monedas sudáfricanas, pretendiendo que eran galletas de mis muñecas.  Por lo tanto siempre ha sido mi sueño.  Estuve en Sudáfrica en Marzo de 2016 viendo televisión mientras visitaba a mi familia, cuando Carlos me llamó y me pidió que revisara un sitio web específico. Fue La Coetzina. Se le ocurrió el nombre, compro el sitio web y eso me sorprendió mucho.

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Cranberry, raisin, apple, cherry, cinnamon and rum filled mince pies, all wrapped up in sweet pastry.  $10,000 for 12

What is your favorite thing to make/ Cual es tu preparacion favorita?

Orange cake. I love raw batter and I always leave the mixing bowl in the fridge to enjoy scraping out after the long days work – honestly! The most time consuming would be koeksisters – they are a lot of work.  First I make the dough, then knead it for twenty minutes. Then I let it sit for an hour, roll it out and cut out three fingers for each, which I then plait and fry. I then make the syrup, dunk them in and finally – voila!

Pastel de naranja. Me encanta la masa cruda y siempre dejo el tazón en la nevera para disfrutar de los raspados después de los largos días de trabajo. ¡Honestamente! Los que consumen más tiempo son los koeksisters, son mucho trabajo. Primero hago la masa, luego la amaso durante veinte minutos. Luego lo dejo reposar durante una hora, lo extiendo, lo corto en tres dedos cada uno, y luego los trenzo y los frio. Luego hago el jarabe, los meto en el agua y, finalmente, esta listo!

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Orange Cake $14,000

What is your bestseller/ Cual es el producto mas vendido?

Beetroot chocolate cake!!! Pureed beetroot gives the cake a wonderful moist and velvety texture without tasting the beets at all – NO lies. It´s just 60% beets, cacao amargo and some other ingredients, all vegan, and drenched in fudge frosting or ganache. I put a super amount of icing on cakes because – how else? Everyone that has tried this cake has fallen in love instantly with it and swears its their favorite.

Pastel de chocolate de beterraga !!! La beterraga pura le da al pastel una maravillosa textura húmeda y aterciopelada sin probar la beterraga. Sin mentiras. 60% de beterraga, cacao amargo y algunos otros ingredientes, todos veganos. Empapado en fudge frosting o ganache. Puse una gran cantidad de glaseado en tortas. ¿De que otra forma? Cualquiera que haya probado este pastel se ha enamorado de él al instante y jura que es su favorito.

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Beetroot Choc Cake. Price between $18,000-$30,000 depending on size

Your business is based around South African pies and pastries. What are some typical yummy things we could try from there/ Tu panaderia se basa en productos sudafricanos. Que producto tradicional puedes recomendarnos?

Koeksisters, which are a South African pastry dipped in lemon and ginger syrup.  Bobotie is a meat dish consisting of ground beef mixed with lots of raisins, spices and curry topped with egg custard and served with rice, chutney and coconut (both below).

Koeksisters es un pastel tradicional que es sumergido en un jarabe de limon y jengibre. Bobotie es un plato que consiste de carne molida mezclada con pasas, especies y curry con crema pastelera y servido con arroz, chutney y coco.

What does ´La Coetzina´ mean/ Que significa La Coetzina?

It is a mix of my surname, Coetzee, and cocina (kitchen in Spanish).

Es una mezcla de mi apellido, Coetzee, y la palabra cocina.

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Traditional Mince Lasagna $24,000

What do you miss from South Africa and what do you like about living in Chile/ Que extrañas de Sudafrica y que te gusta sobre Chile?

I miss the people – loud, funny and witty with a dash of sarcasm. In Chile I love all the fresh produce, especially the ferias (markets) and La Vega, any chef´s dream.

Extraño la gente reuidosa y chistosa con un toque de sarcasmo. En Chile me gusta la variedad de frutos y vegetales frescos, especialmente las ferias y La Vega, el sueño de un chef.

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Frikadelle (South African meatballs) $8000

Where is your favorite place in Chile/ Cual es tu lugar favorito en Chile?

Tirana (town) when La Tirana festival is on.

El pueblo de la Tirana durante la festividad.

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Salted Caramel Cupcakes (6) $12,000

Do you have a favorite food spot/ Tienes un lugar preferido para comida?

Nothing in particular, although I love the rooftop restaurants in Valparaiso where Carlos is from. My favorite food is Mote con Heusillo at any street feria, eating and drinking while browsing. The best combination.

Nada en particular, pero me gustan los restaurantes con terrazas en Valparaiso, de donde Carlos proviene. Me gusta tomar Mote con Huesillo en la feria.

What is next for La Coetzina/ Cual es el futuro para La Coetzina?

To have a shop or not have a shop, that is the big question. La Coetzina is doing so well online that I´m tied. A little cafeteria would be ideal because at the moment you can only order half or full portions of my food, and delivery is only on Fridays. I can issue boletas and facturas, and I have a kitchen assistant. I think the next step would be to have more delivery days, expand here at home and then see if I still want to open a shop.

Tener o no una tienda, esa es la gran pregunta. Hemos tenido tanto exito online que no estamos seguros de abrir una tienda. Una pequeña cafeteria seria ideal porque en este momento solo si pueden comprar porciones grandes, y despacho es solo los Viernes. Puedo dar boletas y facturas, y tambien tengo un asistente de cocina.  El proximo paso sera establecer mas dias de despacho, expandir mi trabajo en casa y despues ver si la posibilidad de una tienda.

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English Muffins $800 c/u

Christmas/Navidad!!

Cut-off date for Christmas orders is the 15 December

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Pan de Pascua with buttercream glaze $12,000
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Hot Cross Buns $12,000
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Gingerbread men (8) $4000
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Gingerbread Houses $850 c/u
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More posts for foodies:

the salt of Cahuil;

wild food at Silvestre Bistro;

vegetarian and vegan food at La Fraternal;

Restaurant Casa Luz review;

Australian tukka at Jimbo´s Pie Shop;
Vietnamese fare at Rico Saigon Cafe;
Chinese restaurant Foodlays;

Meet La Pituka: Happy Clothes

Winter in Santiago just makes me feel so blah. The sky is grey, the houses are freezing (most don´t have insulation) and in general there is a feel of waiting in the air … waiting for warmer days, longer evenings and las fiestas patrias. My absolute favorite month in Chile is September; if you are new to the city, just you wait – soon the sky will be a deep cloudless blue, dotted with volantines and the sound of flags flapping. This is the month when the sun begins creeping out for longer and longer, when the nights fill with the sound of music and laughter, when you can finally show the world some skin and banish those heavy jackets to that forgotten corner of your bedroom.

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I cannot wait to say goodbye to winter, not least because I am one of those people that really suffer without a daily dose of sunshine. The weather mixed with post-partum hormones and a pretty isolated life has meant that I have been incredibly gloomy lately. In an attempt to lift my dark mood, I have been taking advantage of the Estadio Recoleta, not really a stadium these days but a smidge of greenery in an otherwise urban landscape that people use for their sporting needs. The Recoleta council (municipalidad) also offer a smorgasboard of free exercise classes every day, from Samba to Step, pilates and yoga. There are also paid classes too, including tae kwon do and swimming.  I have been going to Zumba, held in the morning every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and in the afternoon and evening on Tuesday and Thursday.

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Santiago during winter. Photo: Me

According to the internet, Zumba is a dance craze beloved of some 15 million people across 180 countries. It was created in the 1990´s by Alberto Perez in Colombia, and contains elements of cumbia, salsa, samba, reggaeton, hiphop, merengue, mambo, chachacha, soca and axe. Although a typical class, which is around an hour long, involves things like squats and aerobics, it doesn´t feel like exercise at all – it is dance. It is also crazy fun. Since I have been going to Zumba it feels like a huge pressure has been lifted from my mind, and I highly recommend giving it a go. The problem when you exercise is that you need something to wear, something that does the job and holds everything in place. What about if you could find gear that did that, but that also had some flair and personality? The athleisure market is flooded with designs to make you look good but these often come with a high price point, and are often made in sweatshops or overseas. This just doesn´t fly with me, particularly because I am all about supporting small businesses and things made in Chile. But the search isn´t futile!!! There are options and here I present to you one of them, La Pituka, who create beautiful leggings and other items right here in Chile.

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Ten Questions with Tienda La Pituka

Who is La Pituka/Quien es La Pituka?

We are two partners, a mother and daughter team comprised of Soledad Herrera, publicist, and Alejandra Bianchi, photographer.

Somos dos socias, madre (Soledad Herrera Amigo, Publicista) e hija (yo, Alejandra Bianchi Herrera, Fotógrafa).

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All photos: La Pituka

Why did you start the store/Por que hiciste la tienda?

We started with the underwear as it was something that we saw overseas but didn´t exist here in Chile!  There was only things cut by laser without a design, and so we began investigating how to make clothes and stamp it. In 2011 we started our store in Barrio Italia where we sold things like necklaces, rings and hair accessories, all made by hand.

Comenzamos con la ropa interior ya que fue un producto que vimos en otro país y en Chile no existía!!!, solo la ropa de corte láser sin diseño… entonces comenzamos a investigar como hacer la ropa y estamparla… mientras tanto comenzaba la tienda La Pituka ( año 2011) en Barrio Italia vendiendo accesorios hechos a mano (collares, aros, tocados…)
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Photo: La Pituka

Which are you favorite products/Cuales son tus productos favoritos?

The leggings – they are so comfortable, great to go out in, to wear while walking, or sports or for yoga or pilates.

Las calzas … es que son muy cómodas, geniales para salir a caminar o para deportes y yoga o pilates.

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Photo: La Pituka

What is your bestseller/Cual diseño que lo que mas se vende?

Generally that would be the designs which are very feminine, with lots of flowers and color, although the Rupturistas have been popular, such as the collage with matryoshka nesting dolls (below) or the asymmetric designs with one leg different to the other. The idea is that we make a certain amount using one design and then later we discontinue it.

Generalmente son diseños más bien femeninos, con harta flor y colorido, aunque los rupturistas también tienen buena acogida como un  colage con matrioshkas que realizamos hace un tiempo ( o los diseños asimétricos, como una pierna diferente a la otra), el tema es que hacemos cierta cantidad con un diseño y luego lo descontinuamos… esa es la idea.

Mamushka
The bestselling print using design of Russian nesting dolls. Photo: La Pituka

How can people buy and where/Como podemos comprar y donde?

Through our Facebook page, where we can post to anywhere in Chile, and we are currently working on having a ´buy now´ option on our website. Physically we are based in Pucon and in Santiago we will have a store in Barrio Italia, opening at the end of August.

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Photo: La Pituka

What makes your products special/Por que son especiales tus productos?

Each item is made by hand, with affection, and we put a lot of thought into choosing the best fabrics and making sure that we give work to Chilean women.

Por que están hechos uno a uno con total cariño, nos preocupamos de elegir las mejores telas Chilenas y de dar trabajo a mujeres Chilenas en su confección. 

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Now for the general question that I ask everyone! Where is your favorite spot in the capital, Santiago/Cual es tu lugar favorito en Santiago?

Outside of the city, in the Cajon del Maipo.

Afuera de la ciudad, en el Cajon del Maipo.

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Cajon del Maipo. Photo: Me

And in all of Chile/Cual es tu lugar favorito en Chile?

Alcohuaz, in the Elqui Valley.

Alcohuaz, en el Valle del Elqui.

What is next for La Pituka/Cual es el futuro de la tienda?

To begin making a wider variety of women´s clothing that are perfect for the office while still using the best Chilean fabrics and colorful styles in full print!

Comenzar a confeccionar una gran variedad de ropa de mujer, siempre con nuestro estilo colorido, pero perfectamente de vestir como para la oficina, con las mejores telas Chilenas y full print!!!

The Fine Print

Facebook here

Instagram here

Website here

Santiago store: Galeria Italia Mia, Av. Italia 1548, Ñuñoa (Barrio Italia)

Pucon store: Urrutia 235, Pucon

 

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Did you like this? Here are some more blogs that highlight local businesses:

Karun sunglasses made from recycled fishing nets and jeans;

Ñirre Bebe kids clothes and accessories made by hand;

TTANTI fine watches using fallen Patagonian trees;

Pajarito de Mimbre books and accessories that focus on Chilean culture;

Apicola del Alba natural cosmetics;

La Farine Pan a la Antigua traditional breadmaking in Curacavi.

 

 

Luna’s Story

The woman came at the same time every week. She was old, with hair that was still long and black despite her age, and a big smile that she gave to everyone despite the fact she was deaf in one ear. The dog saw none of this, however. It recognized her by the shuffling footsteps, the faint whiff of peppermint and the fact that she carried a bag of bones that alerted all the neighbourhood dogs. It’s tail would wag excitedly, spinning around and around, waiting for her turn as the lady dutifully passed.

It had had a childhood that other dogs only dream about: a family that cuddled her, fed her and threw her lots of balls to catch. She’d grown up in the lap of luxury that only Labradors will know, adored for her soft fur, her big brown eyes and floppy ears. Things began to change when her face filled out and grew more elongated – in other words, when she grew up. The cuddles became less and less frequent until one day they just didn’t touch her at all, and over time her bark (which was thunderous) became an annoyance that they didn’t want, but knew they needed in the depths of Huechuraba. By the time the cancer struck they had become accustomed to one another but she was an expense that they just couldn’t afford.  When the time came for them to move they chose to leave the dog behind. They left her in the yard of the house and never saw her again.

She was found by the new renters some two weeks later, who were shocked at the state of her. A bag of bones with shaky legs, she had barked herself hoarse and could not walk, her body riddled by protruding tumours. Her eyes were wide and bloodshot but, despite her hardships, when she saw the new family she found the energy to shake her tail. They passed her on to their grown son who needed a guard dog for his property and who wanted to help her the moment he saw her. He nursed her back to health, took her to the vet, played with her, and soon she forgot all about how it was humans that had originally left her to die of starvation.

They lived now in Recoleta, with the man’s growing family who call her Luna. Every time someone came to take out a car from the yard Luna would trot outside and watch. She couldn’t run or walk much further away because of the cancer, but she was a happy, gentle dog who loved to watch the world from her resting place. She knew all the dogs in the neighbourhood – she’d had quite the reputation a few years ago when the smell of her drove mutts wild, and they’d queued at her gate desperate for a second with her. She knew all the in’s and out’s of the street and the residents were patient with her. She’d watch the endless stream of unknown’s as they’d rap at the window of the house opposite, with their caps pulled down and their nonchalant stances, before exchanging paper for something small and white that Luna couldn’t understand the importance of.

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She was also there the night the boy was murdered, stabbed in the back by a friend who was angry at something monumental, and who was now memorialized by a grand white marker emblazoned with “Colo Colo.” She stood guard during the night while the corner swelled with lost souls who had nowhere they wanted to go to except inside their bags of white powder. She looked and she barked, and she raced excitedly with the other dogs to discover new smells that would explode in their brains every weekend as the people took to the streets with their empanadas and completos.

Most of all, Luna liked to watch the children. She liked the little toddler from next door with the beautiful, gentle eyes that would come and stare at her, and the girl who would wait for her parents while they worked in the shop. She always wanted to play with Luna but the parents didn’t like her to, disturbed by her unusual appearance and sharp teeth. Every day Luna would play with the boy with creamy skin, who didn’t care what she looked like, and who called her “Nunu.” Always there was laughter around her – noise and laughter – and she loved every second of it, despite her creaking joints.

Luna noticed the day the old woman didn’t come with the bones. The dogs on the street wondered too, and went to sleep with tummies gurgling as they’d grown accustomed to the stranger’s treat. They had no idea that the woman’s weekly highlight was her nightly stroll around the neighbourhood with the bag of bones.  In fact, the dogs had no idea at all about her life, or that she too had known the pangs of hunger. She died in the hospital holding the hand of her husband who cried while remembering the difficulties of their life together, and afterwards it was the sound of her family wailing at the heavens that caused Luna and her friends to bark all night long. Luna didn’t know any of this, of course, and so she waits each Friday, on the other side of the gate that separates her from her less-lucky friends, looking for the stranger that cared for her, but never knew her.

This post is dedicated to the real Luna, who Luis rescued from starvation six years ago and who is now a beloved member of our family.

There are lot’s of dogs that are just as gentle as Luna that are looking for a home in Santiago.  If you are considering a companion, why not send Suzie Beaven an email at: adoptaperro.santiago@gmail.com   You can find out about the wonderful work of Adopta Perro Santiago here.

State Schools: The Truth

Half a year later and Ojos Abiertos comes to the end of it’s work in Conchali. Last night we went for a group meal at one of my favorite, reliably good restaurants, Tiramisu (Metro El Golf). Ojos Abiertos began after I posted a message looking for people who shared my passion for righting social wrongs, namely the huge gulf in educational equality. Since then we have not only become firm friends, but we have both opened the eyes of students and had our own eyes opened as we worked in a Santiago state school.

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To reiterate your memory, Carolina ran weekly dance classes incorporating English, literacy and numerous dance styles with any high school student interested in participating. Hoda and Georgina held back to back classes with pre-kinder and kinder aged pupils known as “Art Expression” –  a fabulous initiative born from Hoda Madi, one of Chile’s premier artists. These workshops involved a theme – discussed and then expressed in any form before being put to paper as artwork. The themes were Happiness, Love, Gratitute, Bad Feelings and The Hero Inside. Finally there were art classes held by Lina, Mariana and resident art teacher Amaro, which aimed at utlizing both English and recycling how-to’s. Meanwhile, Zoe tk up a position as an assistant to the English teacher, volunteering twice a week during the morning. We received numerous donations utilized in our classes, from the phenomenal English books donated by Expat Legend Sally Rose, to art and party supplies that the kids loved using. I also must stress that these projects were all lead by passion and a desire to help – no-one paid a fee to join as a volunteer or participant, and no-one was excluded from the classes. These were discrimination-free zones where the children forged real relationships with the teachers … and vice versa. It also wasn’t always easy, from volunteers who we never heard from again to the tireless dedication of Georgina in particular, whose persistence and hardwork really got the Organizacion off the ground.

Here we take a look back over the past few months at our time at Liceo Almirante Riveros:


 

Hoda: This has been the best experience of my life!

Georgina: There is no feeling like when you open the door and the kids just come running …

Helen: tell me about your first class. What happened?

Hoda: our first class was with the pre-kinder and the teacher had no idea we were coming!

Georgina: She didn’t know because she never attends meetings. She doesn’t agree with the art-based methods at the school. This isn’t to say she is a bad teacher. She was a bit wary at first but after the first class she jumped right on board. She started asking us for our opinions and for help and what she could do … once we told her there were loads of English books at the school she ran straight away to get them!

Hoda: The school accomodated us right away. For example in the first class the room only had a cassette player so we couldn’t play ur music. We told Gerhard and for the second class we had a speaker and could play the music off our phones.

Helen: How did the class go?

Hoda: At first the kids were shy but as each class progressed they came out of their shells. The first class was Happiness so we asked them what made them happy. All of them said being at the school, with their friends. At first they were very unsure and nervous about what to do with the painting – how to express their emotion – and always asking if they could do a line or a colour. But by the second class they were more confident and what they drew was amazing!

Georgina: We asked what they loved about each other in the next class. One boy needed a bit of prompting but when asked about a girl in his class he said, “her eyes.” It was the sweetest thing.

Hoda: A lot of them have never had the opportunity to express these things before. When we asked what they were grateful for, again all of them said the school and their friends. We talked about Bad Feelings next. They all spoke about sadness and family problems.

Georgina: One said he knew to just turn on the TV when the arguing starts. Another – who was four years old – said he would take his little sister’s hand, take her upstairs and cover her ears. Someone drew a person with a black face and said that it was his father leaving the house, because he always jumps in the car after a fight. Our final session was about The Hero Inside. What do they want to do? Some of them said doctors and nurses, but mostly they said carabineros [police], which says a lot about how active the police are.

Hoda: One girl who was 5 said she wanted to be an artist – to make people happy through her art. I really believe that art is something that anyone can do – it can save your from bad feelings and give you a way to let emotions out, without turning to drugs.

Helen: Carolina, how did you find your experience?

Carolina: It was amazing. There was a bit of a problem with people not turning up, but there was talent and people had fun. The teachers were really helpful and when there was a problem they did what they could to solve it.

Helen: Could you pinpoint any issues at the school, like where it is lacking?

Carolina: I was teaching teenagers in or nearing their final year, so around 17 years old. But many of them had no idea about basic literacy things like metaphors or similies. There also didn’t speak to be much cohesion between teachers – no collobarative learning. It seemed like they were learning not to respect adults or peers but to respect just the Head teacher when it should be towards anyone.

Helen: Zoe, you were 4th basico – so aged 10 to 11- and alongside their regular English teacher. How did you find it?

Zoe: I had a very mixed experience. The teacher had absolutely no presence in the class. She told me right away she wanted to leave and was looking for other jobs, and when we entered the class she would just sit down and start making notes – no greeting to the class, nothing. She didn’t speak English at all in the classroom – in fact when I finally got her to say something one of the students asked “Miss why are you speaking English?” She taught the same curriculum for all her classes from years 1-4 and no-one knew even the basics like what “how are you” meant. Instead of English she’d do lots of arts and crafts, and after a while I was like “use me – I’m here to help!” So she copied a long poem on the board without translating it and told the kids to write it down. They had no idea what they were writing and were so bored. I asked if I should explain and she said to the class “Zoe will say it out aloud and you all copy it!” She didn’t know the kids names, she didn’t know why certain kids were taken out every class, she cancelled classes every week and she never had a plan for classes. One time I told her I had some ideas, she said no they would make Christmas stockings instead, but when we got there we found the kids had finished them all at home. So the kids spent the whole class with nothing to do.

Georgina: But that is not completely normal. She’s not their regular teacher, only takes them for English, and she told us this was her first job. She was not experienced.

Zoe: I saw that the students were very good at sharing and that a few were really interested and tried hard. But without the teacher taking charge or explaining, they didn’t understand what they were doing. They did have textbooks, but they had never been used before I went there.

Helen: I don’t understand why there are teachers like this? Can’t they be fired?

Mariana: I think they are on a one-year contract and funding is tight with state schools.

Helen: Mariana, how was your experience there with Lina?

Mariana: We worked alongside Amaro, who was really respected by the students. He was incredibly well-spoken, knew all the terminology and explained everything to the kids.

Lina: All the kids were helping each other, asking opinions, and looking after one another.

Mariana: Amaro was taught by Gerhard, the principal, and took the job because of him. There is a lot of loyality between the staff and many aren’t there for the pay but because they want to be there.

Georgina: It all comes down to the teacher. If they are not happy with their salary, they won’t be happy.  There was good and bad at the school: the majority were really dedicated but there were some who were not so. We were left for two hours once by the teacher who was meant to stay with us. Most of the kids just ran away. We were only meant to be there 40 minutes.

Helen: Is that the guy who was yawning through our meeting?

Zoe: I saw him always sleeping in the staff room!


 

What have we learnt? That volunteering is not just out helping those in need. Its incredibly rewarding for both sides because everyone learns. We didn’t go in there with guns blazing thinking we knew better, instead we listened to the teachers, asked what they wanted and needed, and tried to work beside them in the classroom. We tried to provide a friend and a mentor, learning while having fun in an environment that is safe. We gave the kids an outlet to be themselves, be creative and learn something that was perhaps a little bit strange. Not all of us will be continuing next year due to various commitments (immigration! Work!) but we welcome new members and new projects. If you would like to be involved, have an idea or a school to nominate, please send me a PM to hlcordery@gmail.com. We also welcome donations for educational or play purposes.  If you are interested in the four week programme run by Hoda Madi, please contact her directly to see if she is interested in visiting your school.

 

 

 

Notes from the Street: Santiago’s Children

For Santiago’s Children

When the smog hangs like a blanket in the sky, it can be hard to remember days of blue. You breathe it in, sucking it deep into your lungs to send it swimming through your veins, day after day, until the moment comes when you cannot remember how fresh air is supposed to be. Instead it just lingers there above you, always reaching you but not always seen, a heavy cloud of grey that taints a place that could almost be perfect.

That is how I see Santiago.   I call this city my home and I don’t want to leave, but it is not always wonderful. I am not burdened by this “grass is always greener on the other side” complex so I almost never compare Chile to my birth country. This does not make me blind to recognizing the issues at hand, however I try to view what happening here in its own context. Chile is not New Zealand. Santiago is not Chile. Santaguino’s are a whole different type of person to those in the far north. Even within Santiago there are multiple levels of experiences occurring. Many expats (and locals) recognize that there is a societal tier structure known as ‘class’ existing here, but it is difficult for them to understand what they have not lived. And vice versa. We all only know what we come to know, after all.

This is not going to be a post on how classism is flourishing in Santiago. I do not want to start a conversation about a topic that can be so very, very polarising. Every time we talk about people in terms of what they have, we create boundaries. Some boundaries are healthy, like when I tell Emilio to stop putting his hand in the toilet. Others become more like barriers, that instead of protecting you, rise up and block out the sun just like Santiago’s dirty smog. But it is the sun that gives us life. So what are we denying ourselves when we allow society to label us and then we turn around and judge others with those labels?

I am a New Zealander. When I lived there, the nation was divided into factions like everywhere else, and we only really came over weepy under the flag when the All Blacks won the rugby. But when we are overseas, we band together as “the kiwis” and wax lyrical about vegemite, walking barefoot (across scorching tarmac) and exaggerate our “she’ll be right” attitude.   It is similar in Santiago. I have noticed a propensity of locals slamming their country but then change their tune the second an extranjero agrees.  My point is is that the idea of ‘nationhood’ and ‘cultural identity’ are myths, hence why there are numerous social science disciplines out there investigating these concepts at this very moment. What is certain? That we are human. That we feel emotion, bleed when we are cut, breathe. Sometimes “we dream the same dream and want the same things” as well. Every time we define ourselves by our colour, our beliefs, our heritage, our jobs, our schools, or our salaries, we are simply placing more and more labels onto our backs to carry. Or maybe they calcify our hearts, so that when we see someone sleeping on the sidewalk or robbing us to pay for their drug addictions, we shrug our shoulders or scream blue murder … neither of which come close to getting to the heart of the problem and solving it.

Many people will read this post and disagree. Some may even insult me. Some may throw around the “left-wing” label like I am the devil incarnate. All of them will miss the point and are likely always going to. This blog is not for them. Instead it is for the people who can still remember the sun when they look up into Santiago’s smoggy sky.

Maria

Maria is eleven. She is slightly chubby with a huge smile and rather wide-set eyes. She has long black hair that is always tied up and she goes to school in Lampa. She lives with twenty extended family members in Recoleta. There are two entrances into where she lives, through the corner shop her uncle runs or via the door opening out into a side street. There are two houses adjacent to one another in front of a concrete yard, and the whole complex has been hurriedly and cheaply built over the years. Sheets have been pulled across the open spaces that peek into the neighbor’s property which also offer protection from the rain. There is the sound of non-stop chatter. Life is shared: doors are always left open, they all contribute to the microcosm of family needs, and every Sunday Maria and her family eat a late lunch outside in the courtyard. The smell of asado, fish or Cazuela drift away into the afternoon wind. Maria cannot read well and she cannot count past twenty with confidence. Before I showed her a picture of a giraffe, she had never heard of one before. She told me that there are two toddlers that live where she does and neither have many toys. They love to draw though, and draw all day long. When Maria came to my house she was amazed at two things: what we had … and what we didn’t have. She’d never seen a tablet before but she couldn’t believe we didn’t watch television. She picked up all of Emilio’s toys in wonder.   Some of his simplest toys she didn’t understand how to use. Everything she touched and marvelled at. But she mostly marvelled at my son. They played very well while I just lingered about. She made him laugh, and he made her laugh. In those moments, it made no difference that neither could speak the same language (Emilio still speaks Baby, after all) nor that their world’s were a little bit different. They were just two children, enjoying a funny moment.

Maria’s auntie deals drugs that is delivered by Colombian’s who race about recklessly on a motorbike. This is not really unusual – the whole street deals drugs. It used to be really bad at one point, so the road became really unsafe. It used to be filled at all hours with slouching figures in baseball caps and ridiculously loud music. Maria’s aunties drove them all away when the new babies were born (the women are strong like that) and now there are only the residents, who are generally pretty quiet (but not always – eek!). Pasta base does rear its ugly head here and you can tell the users because you look into their eyes and see … nothing. Just an empty, empty sea. It breaks my heart.

I like Maria but she is not really my friend. This is not because she is poorer than I am, or because of the dodgy figures in her family. She is not really my friend because she is 11 and I am 28 – almost two decades apart. But I don’t dislike her and I care for her wellbeing as I would anyone else. Same goes for her family, some of whom I am quite friendly with, others whom I do not know. I want for her exactly the same as I want for my son, and that is education. Not because I want him to be able to get a good job one day (a bonus!) but because I want him to learn about the differences in the world and its people. I want him to grow up making mistakes but always being confident in who he is, where he is from and where he is going. Happiness is not something that comes from money but is a decision that you make for yourself. What is the biggest area for concern in Santiago in my opinion, you ask? Education. But education comes from all around us. I am here interacting with people like Maria every day, and every day they are learning about me and my life. Now I want to educate the other people like me, who live in this beautiful city. I want to humanize these people that are on our peripheries and show the world that they are beautiful too. I owe that to her, to my son and to every child in Santiago. I want us to all start clearing away the smog in front of our eyes. Please do it with me.  #queridarecoleta