SENIORS TRAVEL TO CHILE



Seniors Visit Temuco

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 The seniors this time are this guy and his wife before they joined the ranks of seniors…along with a group of middle school students on a school exchange.  Yes, the Beckers led a student group to Temuco, Chile for a two weeks stay.

We loved everything about Chile and Temuco. Founded in 1881, Temuco is of the Araucanía Region in southern Chile south of Santiago. The Director of our school in Iowa arranged this exchange.

My wife and I were guests with a family that lived on a farm. As we made our way to school each day, we could see Llaima Volcano smoking. It erupted in 1994. We had never witnessed a smoking volcano before, have you?

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 Seniors Get Acquainted with the Mapuche

One of the teachers in their school took us into the surrounding countryside to enjoy the Chilean scenery and to see severals Mapuche homes called rukas. The Mapuche are famous for their 350-year struggle against Spanish and, later, Chilean domination.

The Mapuche is the most numerous group of Indians in South America and numbered more than 1,400,000 at the turn of the 21st century. They live today as they have lived for centuries, retaining their language, dress and cultural habits.

Temuco is a relatively new model city and was for a long time under the control of the Mapuche. Their culture, crafts and way of life are still very visible in and around the city, especially in the central market. The market is an historical place famed for its Mapuche crafts: textiles, carved wood and silver jewelry.

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We enjoyed strolling though the local covered market where we saw a wide range of native vegetables and fruit that we did not recognize.  Meat was hanging on large hooks as were dressed chickens and rabbits. We were told that they leave the feet on the rabbits so that folks will know that they are not cats.

Temuco’s economy is based on agricultural and forest production. Abundant plantations of pine tree and eucalyptus can be found in this zone and several characteristic native forests. Within the manicured grounds of Plaza Aníbal Pinto in the city center, is a sizable La Araucanía monument depicting the clash between the Mapuche and the Spanish.

 We Loved the Araucania Trees

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Our family took us on a trip into a forest with huge tall, prehistoric trees, called Araucania. The Conguillio National Park near Temuco is where you will find thousands of the Araucania trees.

Temuco, with its 275,000 inhabitants, has plenty to offer visitors. With its leafy, palm-filled plaza, its pleasant Mercado Municipal and its intrinsic link to Mapuche culture, Temuco is most pleasant of all Southern Chile’s blue-collar cities, giving a sense of the culture of the region.

Senior travelers, I hope you make it to Chile one day, and if you are in the south of Chile, be sure to include Temuco in your itinerary. We would go back tomorrow.  jeb

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