Monday, August 6, 2007

The black Jesus and the evil eye

Religion and superstition in Chile are openly intermingled, and it is sometimes hard to see what came first, the superstition or religion. The black Jesus on the way to Pirque is pictured at left. The story goes that a man sold his soul to the devil, made some kind of deal, then just before he died, he asked God(who is El Senor here-not just senor) to take him back. God forgave him and the devil(El Diablo) was mad because he didn't go through with the deal. The man had built the Jesus statue for God and redemption and the devil turned the Jesus black. The legend goes on to say that you can paint the Jesus white but it always turns black again to remind people. The statue was, at some point, really painted white but started turning black immediately. That may have something to do with the smoke from the candles burning below him but certainly an entertaining story.
The Evil Eye. I read the following online:
The evil eye is really one that combines superstition with religion. The evil eye is the name for a sickness transmitted -- usually without intention -- by someone who is envious, jealous, or covetous. It is also called the invidious eye and the envious eye. In Hebrew it is ayin ha'ra (the evil eye), which in Yiddish is variously spelled ayin horoh, ayin hora, or ayen hara. In mainland Italian it is mal occhio (the bad eye) and in Spanish mal ojo or el ojo (the bad eye or just the eye). In Sicily it is jettatore (the projection [from the eye]) and in Farsi it is bla band (the eye of evil).
The evil eye belief is that a person -- otherwise not malific in any way -- can harm you, your children, your livestock, or your fruit trees, by *looking at them* with envy and praising them. The word "evil" is unfortunate in this context because it implies that someone has "cursed" the victim, but such is not the case. A better understanding of the term "evil eye" is gained if you know that the old British and Scottish word for it is "overlooking," which implies merely that the gaze has remained too long upon the coveted object, person, or animal. In other words, the effect of the evil eye is misfortunate, but the person who harbours jealousy and gives the evil eye is not necessarily an evil person per se.
Here in Chile, babies are given a type of amulet or necklace made of silver and red with a picture of the virgin Mary for protection.
The other story that I love is the one about Casillero del Diablo-the Devils Cellar. You may know the wine, sold in the states, but not the propagation of a century old legend known throughout the world. In the 19th century, the founder of Concha y Toro, Don Melchor, discovered that his vineyard workers were sampling his greatest wines. To discourage this action, Don Melchor spread the rumor that his deepest, darkest cellar was the Casillero del Diablo (Cellar of the Devil), so that no one would dare go in there. It worked, and a legend was born. Today, this mysterious and legendary cellar continues to hold the finest, estate grown wines of Casillero del Diablo.
Another version of the story is that rebels trying to free Chile from Spain hid down there and Spanish soldiers were told that the devil was there. Being good Catholics, the Spanish refused to search the cellar. It's possible that Don Melchor knew that story and used it to his advantage later.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Signs of Spring in Chile August

We took a little drive around the Pirque area today and noticed many signs that Spring is on its way! I have no idea what the tree at left with yellow blooms might be but it was beautiful.

This one is an orchard of some kind in full bloom.

I have no idea what this is but we want one!

Kids flying kites in the park. There are people selling kites on many street corners, kite-flying a very popular activity this time of year.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Spice Update

I found Allspice at Liders after internet research told me that it might be called Pimiente Dulce(translation: sweet pepper). There it was, with both titles on the label! Cream of Tartar, I've heard, may be found at the pharmacy. Hmmm.

We bought a portable CD player too. It was an interesting discussion with the Chilean salesperson who spoke no English and our rudimentary Spanish. I lost track and Michael did the talking. He is much better at speaking a few Spanish words and getting them to reply in a few words. One Spanish word on my part seems to encourage a Spanish paragraph or more from the other person, both confusing and nowhere near understandable to me. It seems when we don't understand, many think if they just use more words, we will! Of course, it's just the opposite-fluent Spanish speakers run words together so we no longer understand the words we know. There are those that understand that and slow down, mostly those that know a little English and thus, how difficult it is to understand a second language.

But this guy was really helpful and very nice to us. And we eventually purchased a cd player and batteries. By the way, square batteries are batteries here-or bateria (car battery or 9 volt battery) but the round batteries are called "pilas". At one point, another salesperson tried to help and we got our pilas-silly us, asking for baterias. Always a new lesson.

We looked at baby clothes, hoping to find a lovely Chilean oufit for my new grandbaby. But the clothes are generally what they deem to be US knockoffs. Some terrible English translations often grace the front of T-shirts. And what them they believe is USA style is often pretty funny. My Chilean pots and pans have the US Tradition brand right on them(made in China). Which reminds me-the American kitchen you often see advertised is tiny. Helia said that is because they think Americans in the US don't really do much in the kitchen, just cook. And I think they believe we don't really cook much. Lol.