¨They say that pudus do not know how to ride a bike. But this tiny Pudu went far, very far. This is his story …¨
Recently Emilio was gifted a new book, called ¨El Largo Viaje del Pequeño Pudu¨ and I liked it so much that I contacted its maker to see if they wanted to be featured on my blog.
The Long Journey of the Small Pudu, is made by Pajarito de Mimbre, and is a beautifully designed treat for the eyes, taking the reader down the length of Chile and calling attention to its flora, fauna and amazing wonders that makes this country so special. What really makes it stand out is its attention to Chile´s many cultures, and the little Pudu makes friends with them all, from Mapuche to Aymara, Kawesgar to Selk´Nam. Emilio enjoyed playing Spot the Pudu on each page as we read it (it´s been one day and we´ve read it three times!).
A browse through their Instagram feed reveals exactly the kind of thing I look for when I shop for my family: handmade, made in Chile, and with the theme of promoting creativity and inclusion of all.
Ten Questions with Pajarito de Mimbre
1) Who is Pajarito de Mimbre and when did the business begin?
We started up several years ago with the desire to make children´s books and today we are devoloped by Fita Frattini and other amazing people all working to turn their dreams into a reality. We have also progressed into decoration and children´s toys.
2) What is the concept of the store?
We are a design store that creates illustrated children´s books. We have created a space for decoration, toys and incentives for the imagination, creating objects for children. Each item is hand made with dedication and affection – from the initial drawing right up to the finished product. It´s a careful process which involves each material personally selected – this means that each product is designed, written and illustrated at home! Our motto is ¨sow a spark in the soul of a child and you will see that light shine more than any star¨.
3) What makes your products different?
Their exclusive design, featuring the themes of Chile and what is important to children. From there, we take those featured characters and develop them into other products.
4) What are your favorite Pajarito de Mimbre products?
The Bird Calendar, the canvas Map of Chile, Chile Memory Game, the dolls to go with the ´Largas Viajes del Pequeño Pudo´ book, and the mermaid.
We offer basic illustration classes, where we teach you how to illustrate your own book which we then print for you to take home. It´s a really beautiful way to learn and makes a beautiful object to share with others.
6) Where is your favorite place in Santiago to eat out?
At home, where I can cook and eat what I like. If i go out in Santiago, it is to Barrio Italia.
7) What do you like to do on your days off?
I like to do acroyoga, bike and go climbing.
8) Where is your favorite spot in all of Chile?
I like the Parque Nacional Nahbuelbuta and Chiloe, Panguipulli, Puerto Varas … there are just so many!
9) As a store dedicated to children, what do you think is something really important for their childhoods?
I think it´s important to receive love and containment, within the family environment.
10) What is next for Pajarito de Mimbre?
This year we will begin a mini line of clothes and some new books to work the emotions.
Special Offer for My Readers!!!
Email Pajarito de Mimbre quoting my blog and you will receive 20% off your first order! This offer runs until June 17 2017 so get in quick.
COMPETITION TO WIN A CHILE MEMORY GAME (drawn monthly)!
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I am writing a book about Chilean history (add emoji of choice here).
Now, now – was that an inward groan I hear? You don´t actually have to be concerned because Chile has the most passionate, romantic and make-it-a-movie-now history I have ever heard. Some of the principal characters are actually names that you will recognize if you live here or travel a bit. So here is a brief overview that is not boring at all!
Is a name you will surely recognize if you take the metro or venture south to the quaint university city of Valdivia. Valdivia was from a good family in Spain who fought in various European battles as a soldier before heading to the New World where he became friends with Francisco Pizarro in Peru. In 1540 began his way south to Chile, a land barely traversed, with a handful of indigenous servants, Spanish soldiers and his mistress, Ines de Suarez. In 1541, he officially founded the city of Santiago from atop Cerro Huelen (which is known as Santa Lucia today) but he was always looking to the south, wanting to take this area so that the Spanish had control of the Strait of Magallanes, as well as the possibility of finding gold. In 1547 Valdivia was detained and sent to Lima (Peru) to face various charges, one of those being his illicit romance with widow, Ines; Valdivia was a married Catholic man with a wife and children back home in Spain. He was pardoned but told to marry off Ines, and he did so to one of his captains, Rodrigo de Quiroga. After this he was named as Governor of Chile and returned to the country, continuing to fight the various indigenous tribes of the south. In 1553 he was captured in Tucapel and his death has been widely speculated upon. Some myths say he was tortured for many days before having his heart eaten, others say he was forced to drink molten gold, and many of them state that Valdivia was killed by his former manservant, a Mapuche boy Valdivia had kidnapped years earlier, Lautaro.
Ines de Suarez has been the subject of several books and her romance with Valdivia has been the focus of several local miniseries´. She was born in Spain, not far from Valdivia, and some theorists believe that the pair had previously known in each other before meeting in Peru. She was born to a humble family and married a Spanish soldier, Juan de Malaga, who was sent to Peru. Tired of waiting for him and having gone a while without news, Suarez begged some priests to be allowed to go to the New World to search for him (women were not allowed to travel there alone). They agreed, and she arrived first in the Carribean before changing ships to eventually arrive in Lima in 1537. Here she learnt that Juan was dead, and was given a place to live and some indigenous servants while making a living as a seamstress. She met Valdivia and they began their relationship, and when Valdivia was sent to Chile she begged to accompany him. Valdivia had to ask permission from Francisco Pizarro, who officially took her on as domestic help. Pizarro famously wrote her a letter commending her bravery to join the expedition, which she did so as the only woman. Suarez has been recognized as finding water in the desert when the soldiers were dying of thirst, as well as uncovering plots to kill Valdivia by his own soldiers. Once in Santiago, she founded the first Church, a shrine to Montserrat upon Cerro Huechuraba (today´s Cerro Blanco) and led the Spanish to victory during the uprising of local Picunche + Inca residents, headed by the toki,Michimalonco, as Valdivia was fighting in the South. During this battle, Suarez argued to decapitate the seven caciques the Spanish held prisoner, which some were reluctant to do thinking it would be better to use them to bargain with. In the end they went with Suarez´s plan, and she famously cut the heads off herself. This demoralized Michimalonco and the battle was eventually won by the Spanish. After being married off to Quiroga, Suarez is said to have lived a quiet life on the encomienda Valdivia gave her, respected by all for her religious piety, and she died at the age of 80, the oldest of all the original conquistadors. Quiroga was elected mayor 3 times and eventually became Governor of Chile, placing the pair in the upper class society that eventually became established in the city.
This is a name that many – Chilean and Mapuche – hold dear. Some may be surprised to note that this wasn´t actually his name, but the one given to him by the Spanish upon finding Leftraru hard to pronounce. Leftraru was born in the area of Tirua, close to the Nahuelbuta mountains, and was the son of a lonko. When he was around 11, he was captured by the Spanish – some say by Valdivia himself, who was attracted to his appearance and bravery, the idea being that one day he would return to his people and convince them to lay down their weapons. Leftraru became Valdivia´s personal servant, and it is believed that Valdivia treated him very well, teaching him all about the ways of the Spanish as well as their tactics in war. After fighting beside Valdivia during the Battles of Andalien and Penco, Lautaro became convinced it was time to escape the Spanish and in 1550 he did so. After undertaking training, he reappeared in the history as a toki, during the Battle of Tucapel in 1553 and destroyed the settlement of Concepcion. It is here that he is said to have captured and killed Valdivia. Leftraru is credited as teaching the uniting Mapuche people about the ways and weaknesses of the Spanish, and began to lead them towards Santiago. However, Leftraru began to make enemies among the Mapuche, and was betrayed on the hills beside the Matequito river, who was surprised in the night and killed in the doorway of his ruka. The poet Alonso de Ercilla, who came to Chile after this occurred, wrote about the existence of his wife Guacolda, a beautiful woman who fought at his side and who died of a broken heart after he died.
Like Leftraru, Caupolican suffered a name change from the Spanish: Kalfulikan was his actual name. Kalfulikan has gone down in history due to playing an important role in the poem, La Araucana, and is one of the most famous historical figures from the Arauco War. He became Toki in 1557 after the death of Leftraru, a role he had for one year before famously being impaled in a gory and well-publicized death meant to scare the Mapuches into finishing their resistance. In order to become chief of all the united tribes, Kalfulikan had to demonstrate his strength to the caciques, which included Colo Colo. To do this, he famously held a thick tree trunk on his shoulders for two days and one night. According to the writer Fernando Alegria, he he had one son who was blind in one eye that his wife Fresia famously threw at his feet when he was captured, refusing to raise the child of a man who could allow himself to be captured. Ercilla writes that Kalfulikan fought to the very end, and actually jumped upon the spike himself.
Where I live, I hear this word every week, as it has become immortalized forever as the name of a popular local soccer team. During the Arauco War, Colo Colo was a Mapuche Toki leading his people between 1560 until 1563. Before being appointed, Colo Colo was a much respected warrior who is believed to have nominated Caupolican to try out for the role of Toki and presided over the council that chose him. Today he is considered to be a symbol of bravery. The year of his time as toki as well as his death, is disputed.
Where To Find Out More
Visit: Museo Historico Nacional, located in the Plaza de Armas, and the original location of the first Spanish camp (believed to have once been an Incan village). There isn´t too much in the way of 16th century relics but the museum is well stocked, there are audio guides, you can visit the bell tower on certain days and there are often exhibitions.
Read: Ines of My Soul by bestselling Chilean author, Isabel Allende, or go back to the original documents recorded by Alonso de Ericilla during his two years in Chile and recorded daily during his time in 3 battles. His epic poem, La Araucana, was composed for the King and is considered to be one of the greatest works in Spanish of all time.
What The Words Mean:
Cacique – Mapuche leaders who held a position of authority and leadership in their community; sent during war to negotiate with the Spanish
Conquistador – Spanish conquerers
Encomienda – land given by the Spanish crown with a specified number of natives working on it, whom were chosen by local indigenous leaders. Encomenderos, or the owner of the Encomienda, were meant to protect them, teach them Spanish and the Christian faith.
Lonco – community chief
Ruka – Mapuche house
Toki – Mapundungun word meaning the elected leader of the tribes during times of war. There are three types of toki: Toki, Inan Toki and finally Ñidol Toki, the commander in chief of all the united tribes.
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I recently spent a fantastic day at the Casas del Bosque winery, in the Casablanca Valley. I could have easily spent the whole evening there, and probably the following day too if there had been a room option. I had an hours wine tasting in the morning, where we tried four wines (Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Syrah and Pinot Noir) before sitting down to lunch on the terrace and then a bike ride.
Chile has a fantastic, internationally acclaimed wine scene and the Casablanca Valley is right up there for producing quality wines. The reason why the grapes grow so well there is because of the climate: the dry summers combined with the cool currents brought by the winds via the sea and the Andes mountains. In fact, the climate is so perfect for grapes that many producers can forego pesticides entirely and are organic (look at Emiliana, Bodegas RE, Attilio & Mochi – all within the Casablanca Valley). The sea and the mountains also make a kind of natural boundary, protecting the vine crops from pests such as phylloxera. This parasite feeds on vine roots, and during the 19th century it destroyed vineyards on a grand scale across the Americas, Europe and Australia. This has meant that Chile is the only place that grows grapes on its own rootstocks, rather than being grafted onto pest resistant rootstocks like the rest of the world. Chile is also the only country that produces the Carmenere grape variety, which was wiped out worldwide due to phylloxera. Vines were originally brought by the Spanish during the 16th century, although today the wine scene more closely resembles that of France due to cuttings brought here of French varietals, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Malbec.
Of the red grapes, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Carmenere are the most noted, with a low concentration of tannins and a full spicy and fruity taste, while Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay are the most important white varieties with a fullness that is often remarked upon.
The tasting was led by an exceptionally well-spoken sommelier, who encouraged us to pick out the different ingredients, aromas, and drew our attention to the colors. We started with the Sauvignon Blanc, considered Chile´s best, which contained hints of jalapeño, grapefruit, freshly cut grass, pear and apple. We were told that this wine is best paired with fish, shellfish, crustaceans and even Ceviche.
Next came the Chardonnay, my personal favorite. I could just taste the caramel, apple, lemon pie, mango, bananas, melon and pineapple. This was a very easy wine to drink and my glass was not quite enough (purchased a bottle though!). This wine is good with shellfish, full-bodied fish, salads and fresh cheese.
Probably the most lauded wine produced by Casas del Bosque – and certainly the one most enjoyed by our tasting group – is the Syrah. The Syrah grape thrives in the valley´s cool climate, and we spent a while dissecting the flavors, including lavender, raspberry, cinnamon, walnut, herbs, bay leaf and pepper. This wine goes well with smoked cheeses and red meats.
We finished with the Pinot Noir, which to me was very complex and deep, with notes of leather, almond, plum, vanilla, strawberries wild mushrooms and truffle. This variety is very well known and considered to be emblematic of the Casas del Bosque winery. It pairs very well with quail, duck, chicken, turkey, beef stews,, pasta, full-bodied fish and cheeses that are moderately ripe.
Attentive service, tranquil setting (we were on the terrace), delicious and fresh food – I was actually surprised at a) how good the restaurant was and b) how relatively inexpensive it was for the quality received. Star of the show was the Chilean Soul (Alma de Chile) dessert. The Kids Menu was very good value and included the dessert, it was big but my son (3.6) ate it all! What I also liked was that it wasn´t chips and chicken nuggets – there were meat kebabs, chips and salad.
Activities and Grounds
We rented some bikes and explored the winery by bike, which was an excellent decision because the grounds are stunning. It is also fairly flat for those of you who are like me and not very athletically inclined, but there are advanced trail options too. We also rode to the lagoon, which was nice (you can also choose the picnic option there). We didn´t see too much wildlife, which is a shame as Luis usually spots tarantulas and even snakes when taking tour groups, but we did see a lot of birds.
The grounds are well maintained. There are several toilets, lots of seating areas and even sun beds for those who need to sleep off the wine!!
Suitable for Families
We went with a toddler and a baby in a pushchair (you need good wheels to navigate outside of the winery). People were courteous and no-one blinked an eye during the tasting or lunch. There is also a children´s playground, conveniently located beside the sun beds!!
Miles and Smiles offer tailormade and carefully crafted tours for individuals up to larger groups which includes premium tours and tastings. Or you can make your own way there by car. Check out the Casas del Bosque webpage here.
Those of you who have used our business, Miles & Smiles, may have noticed that we offer a tour named after my blog, Querida Recoleta. It was important to me to have an option that was a little different to all the usual options offered by agencies, particularly if it showcases how so many people in Santiago live.
It also includes a visit to the General Cemetery, which is probably my favorite place in Santiago. Where else can you go to immerse yourself in history, take some great photos and walk or bike to your hearts content, sometimes to the sound of nothing but your breath and the distant hum of engines. I like to go here to look at the architecture, read the names and think about all the people that came before me and called this place home. I don´t find it to be morbid or unsettling – in fact I find it to be a calm, peaceful place to go when I need to step away and reflect.
It is also almost alive with history. This is the oldest cemetery in Chile where you can find 11 generations buried with enough skeletons to cover 117 football pitches. It was born in the 19th century beside hospitals and medical institutions so that bodies could be quickly taken away and looked after; before 1821, bodies were buried under ground which is today underneath the city pavement.
Patio 29 is where you can find all the unmarked graves of the disappeared, many of whom were abandoned in the Mapocho river, and close examination of tombstones will reveal the deaths that occurred during various epidemics (one particular area is dedicated to the lives lost during the 1887 cholera epidemic, which claimed 100,000).