Projects are gaining momentum at Chol-Chol and a fun weekend in Pucón.
Thursday & Friday
Both of these days were a bit more low-key at the foundation. We went there on Thursday, where Sarah spent a lot of time with Juan Manuel translating the audio from the video that was recorded the day before. I started to email back and forth with the International Folk Art Market which is in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I also was sending emails with some of the Brazilians to prepare them for the following week. We planned to work from home in the morning on Friday to await the arrival from the Internet company since our WIFI was not really working, but were going to go to the foundation in the afternoon as WFTO representatives were coming with some other artisan groups to do some presentations and Sarah was going to take pictures. Well, the internet people never came, and later in the day Chol-Chol just told us to keep working from home since the presentations would be in Spanish and us coming all the way there just for pictures seemed wasteful. So we kept working from home and Sarah made a ton of progress on the video – success!
We cracked open a beer at 5 p.m. (hooray – weekend!) and then went to the mall to get Sarah some shirts for work. I think we anticipated the team wouldn’t be dressed as nice as they are since we’re out in the country, etc. But either way, needed to spice up Sarah’s wardrobe a bit. The highlight of the day was the post-shopping dinner. We had quite a few gastronomic experiences in Santiago, and since arriving in Temuco, we’ve primarily done groceries or some bar-type meals late at night with Juan Manuel. We hadn’t really explored the restaurant scene in Temuco. So, naturally, we went to TripAdvisor and looked up top restaurants. We weren’t really looking for anything too fancy, just quality. Low and behold, the #1 rated restaurant in Temuco is a place called Beakers – which is just a small burger shop. Perfect (well, minus the whole diet thing). We didn’t have the highest expectation, because after all, we’re from Chicago which has some great burger joints, and wasn’t sure that Chile was known for “American Fast Food Burgers”. Long story short, the burgers were FANTASTIC. Sarah and I just kept eating in silence and grinning as we were in shock at how good this was. We’re a bit scared because this may become a staple in our Temuco culinary rotation.
Weekend in Pucón
Juan Manuel had invited us to head to Pucón with his girlfriend (Mily) for the weekend. Her family owns a hotel in Pucón so we’d have a place to stay. We weren’t entirely sure everything that would be on the agenda, so we most likely overpacked, but we were just eager to explore another city. We were really excited for this trip in particular for a few reasons. 1.) We get to visit Pucón, which we’ve heard a ton about, 2.) More time with Juan Manuel (again, our life coach and spirit guide), and 3.) We get to meet Mily (who we’ve joked with Juan Manuel that may or may not be real since we hadn’t met her). Pucón is about a 1.5-2 hr drive from Temuco depending on traffic and we left around noon. We stopped for lunch in Villarrica, which provided us with some great early views of Volcan Villarrica. We had a couple empanadas and headed on our merry way to Pucón.
We arrived in the afternoon to Pucón, which seems like a little ski town that we just happen to visit during summer. It had a cool downtown with shops dominated by tour companies, ice cream shops, and cafes. We got to the hotel and it was an “apartment” which meant multiple bedrooms and places to cook – it was really nice. When we arrived, we got thrown a bit of a curveball when Juan Manuel recommended that we stay until Monday morning because traffic will be easy on Monday vs. on Sunday when everyone leaves Pucón. We assumed it was just Saturday night, but luckily overpacked a bit so we took it in stride and were excited that we’d have a full day on Sunday. We quickly went to the grocery store to get some snacks and then went to El Cerduo, which is a little bit out of town that has a long stream / canyon type of environment where you could hike a bit, lounge near the creek and hope in some “pools” from the river, etc. Similar to last weekend though, we put Lemmy through the ringer in terms of a tough gravel road with lots of bumps, pot holes, etc. Lemmy took it in stride and got us there safely. We paid a small entry fee (apparently it’s private land) and then hiked around. It was gorgeous and the weather was perfect. We found a spot to relax and got in and out of the water for a bit (PS – the water was freezing, but refreshing after spending some time in the sun). We then hiked a little more to see more of the scenery, which included views of the volcano (which, by the way, is active and had steam coming out from the top … awesome).
Speaking of the volcano, after finishing up with El Cerduo, we drove through town and then started our accent (via Lemmy) up the volcano to watch the sunset. Luckily, this road was in far better shape than the drive to El Cerduo, but it was pretty accelerated and Lemmy was still working hard. As we got more and more up the volcano, we realized the road that we were driving on was a temporary road that served as a ski run in the winter. We saw more and more ski lifts and as we go towards the top, it was a ski lodge. We will most definitely need to come back here in a couple months for a bit of skiing. We hung out at the top and watched a great sunset and then drove back into town. It was pretty late and all that we had eaten was some empanadas, so we grabbed a quick bite at a café, enjoyed a bottle of wine and relaxed after seeing many sites. It was a great Saturday, seeing a new town, being outside, and getting to know new friends.
Sunday was more relaxed than Saturday, primarily because the weather was misty and a bit of overcast in the morning. We enjoyed some breakfast at the hotel and basically walked around downtown for a while (which was really enjoyable). Pucón is definitely a “tourist” town with people from all over the world visiting. After the rain fully subsided, we walked down towards the beach and did some people watching. We then went to lunch at a spot that Juan Manuel recommended that was off the beaten path and was authentic Mapuche food. Sarah and I split some chicken and “papas” (with some sopapillas, of course). It was delicious and all-in cost about $6. We then traveled to Caburga, which is the neighboring town to see another beach. By the time we got there, the sun was shining and it was like a brand new day! We hung out at the beach and then eventually visited Ojos del Caburga, which was some waterfalls in a little oasis. What was a pretty dreary day turned into a lovely afternoon and early evening.
We drove back to Pucón, got stuck in some pretty bad traffic (e.g., 4 km in about 1 hour), but made it back to the hotel in which we changed and headed out to dinner. We had been having snacks most of the day, so we just did a light dinner, but heavy on the desserts since the café was a bit of chocolate shop / bakery as well. Everything was fantastic (per usual). After dinner, we went back to the hotel to relax and I put on the Chiefs/Patriots game. I think Juan Manuel and Mily were entertained (or possibly frightened) at my reactions to the game. However, I was proud to teach Juan Manuel and Mily that Robert Kraft, Bill Belichick, Tom Brady, and Julian Edelman were all “children of satan” and that no self-respecting person cheers for the Patriots. However, to show that I wasn’t merely biased against the Patriots, I explained that I have no problem with Rob Gronkowski and that he’s a large child and very much entertains me. Needless to say, I’m excited that I’m in Chile where I won’t have to see non-stop Super Bowl coverage for the next two weeks. Go Rams.
Okay, I got sidetracked a bit. All in all, a great Sunday, and a great weekend in Pucón with Juan Manuel and Mily!
Monday – Back at Chol-Chol
Sarah and I have been trying to get into a bit of a rhythm in our short amount of time in Temuco. The last two Sundays, we’ve made sure that we did grocery shopping, laundry, some FaceTiming with our parents and a bit of relaxing before starting off the week strong on a Monday. Well obviously, we didn’t do that today – because we woke up in Pucón. So instead of being fully rested, getting in some exercise and ready to go, we had to drive about 90 minutes from Pucón to Temuco, and then quickly pull our lives together before heading to the foundation. Today was definitely a different pace than Thursday and Friday as everyone was back together at the offices. Sarah had a scheduled meeting to discuss Chol-Chol’s approach towards International Women’s Day on March 8th. While we thought this would be a majority of the discussion today, that quickly turned into a 10-minute conversation and we talked about various other topics. They were curious to know about Sarah’s video (which she got a first draft done very quickly!). She showed the video and everyone was very pleased with how it looked. The next hour turned into planning more videos and visits with artisans – which is great! Long story short, we got 4-5 more visits set up in the coming two weeks – so Sarah and I will be very busy! These visits will go a bit beyond just shooting video. Instead, I’ll be doing interviews with the artisans on the process and starting to gather some data – which should be very interesting.
The other big topic was that the Brazilians are starting tomorrow, so we need to ensure we have projects and tasks set up for them. As we were discussing some of the plans, including identifying who should come to some of these visits with us, we heard from Viviana that she wanted to use some of their help to move some of the finished products and other supplies to a storage room where much of the inventory currently rests. They then hinted at using that room as an “intake” room for when the weavers come to drop off their finished goods. And then possibly using some of the other rooms as a community space for the artisans, etc. Well… that was another curveball – but an exciting one. My take is that we have the opportunity to repurpose some space at the foundation to improve how they interact with the artisans, and to reserve some of that space exclusively for them when they visit the foundation. I thought this was exciting because it was more of a “tangible” project that I could assist with – and most importantly – that the Brazilians could assist with. So tomorrow, the plan is to discuss this project at a high-level with them and then have them build a plan to get it all figured out. Perfecto.
One thing I’m starting to realize is a bit difficult is just understanding what everyone is working on, where people will be, etc. It’s not like at WMP where everyone has Outlook calendars and we can just stalk to see what is going on. I’m learning that we have to be overly inquisitive in asking where people will be. For example, I thought I had this week figured out. Tomorrow, the Brazilians come and Sarah and I (and Juan Manuel) will bring one of them to join us and then the other two would stay back at the foundation and start working with Viviana on some of the activities around the products, inventory, etc. I figured that’d work because Viviana had a meeting downtown until around 1 p.m. (which is when Sarah and I would need leave for our visit). However, we found out that Viviana (or Susana or Yasmin) will not be there in the afternoon, so basically, it will be two Brazilian volunteers at the foundation … by themselves … for the afternoon … on their first day. Not a great situation, but apparently, it is what it is. The team said they can help “clean”. Doesn’t sound great to me, but we that’s tomorrow’s problem.
All that being said, today was a pretty productive Monday that we hope has set us up for lots of work to be done in the coming two weeks. Progress!