A visit with Señora Rosita
Today was another beautiful day in Temuco. We started out by exploring the nearby by cerro (or hill) and went on a little hike to explore. It was a nice start to the morning. We came back and got ready to meet Juan Manuel around lunch. Today, he took us to meet his friend Señora Rosita, a Mapuche weaver and teacher about 25 minutes from Temuco (or in “el campo” as it is described). She made us a traditional Mapuche lunch and we visited with her for about 4 hours.
First off, oh my goodness was her food delicious! She made homemade sopaipillas which were a million times better than any you’d find from a street vendor. Sopaipillas are fried pastry in Latin America, but each country has it’s own twist. Here in Chile, they can be sweet or savory (usually savory) and are made with a local pumpkin, giving it an orange tone. Juan Manuel had explained that she was known for her cooking within the community. She had a salsa that was made with aji (chile), cilantro, and garlic. I wanted to put it on everything!
Then she put a large, steaming bowl of soup in front of us. It had chicken, potatoes, and pumpkin, among other things. It warmed the soul. She explained that she made her husband fall in love with her by making that dish, and understandably so!
Juan Manuel and Señora Rosita went back and forth a bit, and I was able to pick up some things. She explained about some of her weavings and showed how she spun wool. She really does everything; she’s a Kindergarten teacher, a cook, a weaver, and a mother (we were able to meet her son too!). Her sister has some sheep and she gets wool from her, washes it in the river nearby, and spins it in her house. She also explained that someone had approached her about selling her sopaipillas and coffee in a nearby market, but she wasn’t sure if she was going to do it. She’s always busy!
She brought out some melon and cafecito made from wheat (it tasted very similar to piñon coffee to me). It was a nice, little pick-me-up. Her son also came and ate with us. We learned he played the piano and recently got a scholarship to university for playing piano. I then learned he also liked design and art, so he showed us some of his sketches.
He’s very talented and it was nice to connect with him about that. He had brought out some mate tea, and we all shared a few sips. They talked about the tradition of accepting with your right hand and passing to the next person with your left, from your heart. Drinking mate is a communal activity done while inside a ruka, or the traditional Mapuche house. It was really neat, they had a metal straw and a tiny metal mug that they used to steep and drink from.
We also learned that her son is a traditional dancer in Mapuche ceremonies (there are only 3-5 that are allowed to dance in these certain ceremonies) and we saw a few pictures. Juan Manuel also translated some of their conversation about trying to reclaim some family land that was taken, and explained is a common problem among Mapuche families and Chileans.
We then started talking about another Mapuche woman who makes her own honey about 20 minutes from where we were. Señora Rosita brought out the amazingly giant loaf of bread and honey from her friend (I told Juan Manuel he was going to have to roll us home, haha). Oh my goodness, was it heavenly. And about $4 for a kilo, which is incredibly affordable. The consistency reminded me a lot of Manuka honey, which runs about $12 for a small little jar in the States.
Another fun thing that happened; I told Señora Rosita that I enjoyed knitting and she told me she’d teach me how to weave (!!!). I was so excited. So hopefully we’ll come back another day to learn how to weave and get some of that honey (I know my mom will LOVE it).
We chatted a bit more but decided we should let Señora Rosita relax. BUT NOT BEFORE SHE SHOWED US HER PUPPIES! Oh my goodness, these nuggets! They were about 2 months old and the cutest things ever.
Overall, today was another great learning experience about the Mapuche. Juan Manuel has been such an incredible resource for us to learn about the day-to-day of the Mapuche people. It’s very common that Mapuche women are a bit reserved and shy, so we were so grateful that Señora Rosita opened her house to us. And, I basically want to be her best friend.