Learn about the Chilean culture

Musician Accordeon

Amity Tours offers more than just a simple trip to Chile. We make sure you learn more about the Chilean culture during all our tours. We would like to share some traditions from our friendly local team.

Active explorations in remote areas surrounded by nature will free our visitors to become part of the place. Adventure trips by Amity Tours will unfold meaningful experiences. We do enable our guests to discover and explore hidden corners, meet local communities and immerse themselves in the Chilean culture. This does reflect not only in our visits to the local indigenous communities but also in our team. You will find a true friend in our experienced and professional guides and drivers. In today’s post, we would like to introduce you to our top drivers, Orlando and Bernardo Gonzalez.

People behind Amity Tours

Our trips would not be possible without the fundamental collaboration of Orlando and Bernardo. These two brothers are not only our most experienced drivers, but also the hosts of our headquarters. Trouble shooters for any kind of unexpected issue before, during and after the trips, our personal mechanics and trailer builders and most important always ready for a nice chat and laugh.

Man Hiking OutdoorMan Chile Van

Thus, both of them started working with Amity Tours in 2007 and helped our company growing during the last 13 years!

They grew up about 45 kilometers outside of Pucón, up in the mountains and far away from civilization. Surrounded by beautiful native forests and Araucarias (monkey puzzle tree). The school was located 12 kilometers away from their house. By foot or horseback, was the only way to get there. So, they spent the whole week down in the school and only got home on the weekends.

Bernardo is not only a very experienced and safe driver. But he also loves riding bicycles. During our spectacular road cycling trips, he helps out whenever there is a mechanical problem. He also jumps on a bike to accompany our clients whenever posible.

Van Sprinter Volcano Flowers

The most fun part for him on the trips is the cultural night. We try to involve a nice evening with great local artists, where we show our traditional music and dance to our guests. This is where Bernardo presents his talent for music.

La Cueca – the chilean traditional dance

In 1979, la cueca was adopted as the national dance of Chile. Its presence can be recognized throughout the national territory, varying the choreographic and musical form according to the geographical area in which it is interpreted. But always preserving a common pattern that makes it a unique and differentiated dance;

The huaso (Chilean cowboy) advances towards the girl he likes the most and offers her his arm. She gets up, accompanying him in a short walk along the hall. The initial steps are very measured, calm, hesitant. The tissue move smoothly and, suggesting the insinuating twist of the Cueca, the huaso chases the fleeing woman, and using the tissue as if it were a soft loop, surrounds her without touching and brings his tissue to her side.

At the end, the huaso begins the shoe-tapping and usually looks like a skills competition with itself until the last lap and the hug and knee land.

In the countryside of southern Chile, the traditional dresses to dance the cueca are the peasant or country dress. The lady uses floral dresses with a petticoat underneath to expand the dresses and see them in broad form, shoes with heels. The man wears trousers sleeved up to the knee, straw hat, shirt and a blanket of red, blue, white colors.

People Party Guitar

Bernardo mentioned that exactly these very unique dress codes are making the dance a real spectacle! “Otra cosa es con guitarra”. (chilean slang which in this context would mean: there is no comparison between a dance in a normal dress or dance in the traditional cueca dress)

Let’s focus on another particularity of the Chilean culture.

The Chilean Slang

You can definitely fill a whole book about Chilean slangs and their meanings. Because of that, most foreigners coming to Chile struggle trying to understand the locals, especially at the beginning! It is part of the chilean traditions, using lots of particular slangs and words while talking. Every region has its particularity, in southern Chile for example people use to talk very fast and kind of sing their words.

Would you like to learn some slangs to survive in the Chilean jungle?

Bernardos favorite one is: Güatita llena – Corazón contento. = Belly full – heart happy. Which means enjoying a nice meal makes you happy.

A word Orlando think is very typical in Chile is: Pucha! = Oops!

Furthermore, some other slangs and words that may interest you traveling to Chile:

  • Andar a lo gringo: To not wear underwear. (We ask ourselves: Do a lot of Americans go around not wearing underwear, or is this just a cultural stereotype?)
  • buena onda! = All right!, great
  • ¿Cachai? = Do you understand?
  • Pololo / Polola = Boyfriend / Girlfriend
  • Guagua = Baby in the mapuche language

Now, you should be prepared for your next trip to our country. That is why our two top drivers would like to invite you to another Chilean custom – join a typical barbecue with a nice cup of local wine.

The chilean wine

Wine Bottle Nature

In Chile we are very proud about our wine production. Thus there is no household in our country without a good bottle of the delicious drink. Bernardo recommends trying the emblematic grape called Carménère.

Amity Tours has developed an amazing Wine Tour that comprehends 5 wine valleys on central area: Maipo Valley, Casablanca Valley, Aconcagua Valley, Colchagua Valley and San Antonio Valley; a unique experience not to be missed. Where you’ll understand and verify why Chilean wines have earn such many prices and great reputation worldwide.

Fully licensed and responsible tour operator

Last but not least, Bernardo and Orlando want to highlight some other reasons why they really like working at Amity Tours. We are a sustainable tour operator, fully licensed and certified and care about our local team not mattering which role they play inside the company’ structure.

We are looking forward to showing you the Chilean culture and the beautiful landscapes in the Lake and Volcano District!

 

 

Chile – A journey from the Andes to the Pacific Ocean

Cordillera las Raíces

Chile is about 4300-kilometers long. We all talk about the extreme diversity from north to south. But did you know that in the average width of only 177 kilometers you can find an impressive natural and cultural diversity too? We take you on a journey from the Andes to the Pacific through the Lake and Volcano District.

 

Pichillancahue Glacier Hike
Hiking to the Pichillancahue Glaciar

First of all, some facts about the geography of Chile

In Chile, there are four large strips of relief, which give the physical environment a markedly longitudinal character.

These are:

  • The Andes Mountain Range, high and wide in the north, which descends to the south.
  • The intermediate depression, with high plateaus in the north.
  • The Cordillera de la Costa, lower than the Andean heights, but with difficult access to the sea.
  • The extensive Chilean shoreline with its equal coasts from Arica to Chiloé and dismembered towards the south of the country.

The Andes mountain range constitutes an imposing wall. Whose altitude gradually descends from north to south. Starting at the heights of the Nevado Ojos del Salado (6,893 m) in the province of Atacama, reaching  the modest peaks of Darwin (2,135 m), in the province of Magallanes.

Its colossal heights on the western slope are of climatic and economic importance. It acts as a climate screen, intercepting the western humid air masses and forcing them to rise and precipitate on its slope. Thus, it is how it is transformed into the reservoir of water and snow that it generates in rivers. These cross our country transversely and serve to irrigate the fields of the intermediate depression, supply water to urban agglomerations and allow energy to be obtained through hydroelectric plants.

Chile’s numerous rivers are relatively short; they are generally born in the Andes and flow west towards the Pacific. Thus, in the northern and central regions they feed mainly by the eternal snows that cover the Andes. While most of the great Chilean lakes, including the Llanquihue, concentrate in the wonderful southern lake region.

The natural and cultural diversity in only 150 kilometers

Let us get an idea about the divers landscapes in only 150-kilometers width. We take you on a imaginative trip from east to west to our beautiful Lake and Volcano District!

 

Cordillera las Raíces
Cordillera las Raíces

The Andes Mountain Range

Starting at the Andes Mountain Range we dive into the mystical Araucaría (monkey puzzle tree) forests and connect to the millenary species around us. Therefore we hike through deep forests, cross by crystal-clear lagoons and breath the fresh air of these altitudes. Meanwhile we imagine the daily life of the inhabitants in this area.

The local mapuche communities (Pewenches) are named after the Pewen – Araucaria, being its fruit the central element of their diet. History relates that the Mapuche were mainly engaged in agriculture and cattle breeding. However, the Pewenches have been noted for being gatherers and ranchers. It is argued that the Pewenche “owned herds of llamas, which made them herdsmen-farmers who used wool. As for agriculture, the vegetation provided them with herbs and wild fruits. They cultivated corn, potatoes, beans, goose and quinoa, among which the pehuén”(Acosta, 2004: 4). Today, this ancient practice of collecting the gülliw – piñion – is maintained, starting the most characteristic process today: the “Veranadas” at the beginning of March.

 

Piñion, Araucaría fruit
Piñon, Araucaría fruit

 

Before continuing our journey towards the west, we climb up one of the magical volcanoes in the area. Let us try to reach the top of the very active Villarrica Volcano. We might even spot some lava on the top! Therefore we cross a glacier and prepare ourselves for some strong winds.

As soon as we reach the top we get impressed by the volcanic activity of the Villarrica (or Rukapillan, in the Mapuche language). Moreover the scenic view overlooking the beautiful lakes, rivers and volcanoes around will take your breath away.

The countryside and its prairies

Now, as we got to know the Andes Mountain Range, it is time to visit the flatter areas. Around the lakes, like Panguipulli, Villarrica and the second biggest Lake of Chile, Llanquihue, we enjoy the harmony of the green prairies, the wide rivers and the wheat fields. Lay back and feel the calm lifestyle on the countryside.

 

Chilean Lake and Volcano District Prairie
Prairie of the Chilean Lake and Volcano District

 

In this flatter area the Nagche and Wenteche Mapuche communities settled their homes. They mostly live from the agriculture and cattle breeding. In addition to the Mapuche families, many German immigrants found their new home in the Lake and Volcano District. Around the big lakes we find many German styled houses and can feel the German influence also on the menus. It is easy to understand, why these area is famous for its great cheese and beer…

 

Getting to the Pacific Ocean

Before we reach the coast, we have to take a deeper look at the very unique Valdivian rainforest. Were we count with an unusual diversity of tree species, many of which are unique in the world. Especially the Valdivian jungle stands out for its beauty. Some species of conifers in the Chilean forest are among the longest-lived in the world, for example the larch. Therefore we can enjoy some nice walks through thousand-years old forests with a dense undergrowth. Classified as a very special temperate forest, it counts with several specimens of native animals such as the Monkey of the bush, Pudú, Choroy parrot and the Black-necked Swan.

 

Reserva Alerce Costera
Larch trees at the Alerce Costero Reserve

 

Not only the landscape changes, while we get closer to the coast. Also, the habits and name of the local mapuche communities changes: Lafkenches (people belonging to the sea) use the coast as a settlement. They have an economy and way of life closely related to the sea and marine resources (fish, shellfish, marine mammals, etc.).

 

Shellfish Mapuche Lafkenche
Shellfish Mapuche Lafkenche

 

Finally on the Pacific Ocean, we get impressed by the lonely beaches, the ruff shores and the cold sea. While during the migration season (sep-may) we might even observe some delfines and whales close to the coast. Without any doubt getting to the Pacific Ocean after climbing up an active volcano, crossing by the harmonious prairies and getting lost in the dense Valdivian jungle is a the jewel in the crown.

 

Mapu Lahual Pacific Ocean
Mapu Lahual Pacific Ocean

 

Do you want to explore the Epic Pacific Coast trails?

 

Source: www.cultura.gob.cl/estudios/observatorio-cultural

How the Mapuches knew what Mother Earth would be facing in 2020

Ruka mapuche traditional house

Lately, the world has been going through tough times. Either socially, financially or naturally. What could seem unpredictable for the majority of us, might not be for some other cultures with a strong connection with the planet Earth. As a result, the Mapuche culture and vision of the cosmos predicted the current global situation. In this article, you’ll find out how this indigenous community knew what we would be going through in 2020.

mapuche member pouring mate yerba
Mapuche lady pouring a traditional mate yerba

Brief history & presentation of the Mapuches

As of today, the Mapuches is one of the most notorious native group of Southern Chile & Argentina. In Chile, it is the largest and the majority of the groups inhabits the southern regions & Santiago capital city. Throughout the beginning of their existence, they have mastered the ability to adapt in different types of climate. From the Andean mountains down to the coast, from warmer temperate climatic zones to cold rainy ones. They adapted to them, developing their culture in unique ways.

Historically, they are the most tenacious people. Indeed, neither the Incas or the Spanish settlers could defeat nor dominate them, despite their war efforts. Thus, in 1691, the Spanish King recognized the independence of the Mapuches.

mapuche family
Photo Source: The Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino, Santiago de Chile.

In Mapudungun, their native language, the word “Mapuche” means “people of the land”. Their culture is based on the oral tradition. Indeed, the Admapu (set of ancient traditions, rights, laws and norms transmitted from generation to generation) governs the social and religious conduct.

Religion & cosmovision

The Mapuche Flag
The Mapuche Flag with the Meli witran mapu, representation of the Earth and the 4 cardinal points.

Religiously, the Mapuche beliefs are based on the existence of a world populated by Gods and Spirits. However, this polytheism is summed up under the existence of an Almighty Being. The “Pillán” (Volcano), or “Neguechén” (Supreme Being), who lived in the heavenly heights and had the power to grant life and death.

In addition, they associate manifestations of nature, such as thunder, fire, volcanic eruptions and earthquakes with their duality view of the world. In a few words, the religious beliefs are based on the union between the spiritual world and the concrete world. Moreover, they see the universe as a serie of superimposed platforms in space, all grouped in 3 zones:

  • Meli ñom wenu (the 4 places above), also weno mapu (the land above). It is the platform of good where live the Gods. From the highest platform, they are distributed hierarchically: the Spirits (Gods’ minor employees), then the ancestors; both authentic (the protectors and brokers of the lineage) and mythical (the common ethical counselors).
  • Anka wenu (half up), also miche mapu (the earth below) where inhabit evil beings that don’t have any relation with each other.
  • Mapu (Earth), the natural world summarizing the permanent conflict between the two prior zones.

According to the Mapuche, the harmonic relationship between all the elements of the Earth without the humane intervention is the base of their cosmovision. Thus, the respectful use of the natural resources is fundamental for the overall well-being of the community.

The Mapuche cosmic vision is dualistic and dialectical. The wenu mapu represents the good, whereas the anka wenu minche mapu represent only the evil. On Earth, both the good and evil coexist in a synthesis that does not imply fusion, but rather a dynamic juxtaposition. So, true polarity leads to union, and the conjunction of two opposing forces is a necessary condition to achieve a dualistic cosmic balance.

What happened in 2019 revealed the current global situation

As people of the land, the Mapuche are well-connected with planet Earth. Their deep knowledge of the native fauna & flora, along with the strong connection with the cosmos, enable them to read and interpret natural events.

In a recent post, we explained why a total solar eclipse means bad omen for the future. This extraordinary event happened recently in Chile on July 2 2019. A few months after, since October 14, social protests have been taking over the streets of big Chilean cities. As a result of this strong social and political crisis, the Chilean government had to cancel some important internacional events. Indeed, both the 2019 APEC and the UN Climate Change Conference were either cancelled or organized in another country.

This singular and natural event might seem a simple coincidence for us. But not for this wise indigenous community. As a matter of fact, another natural event took place but went unnoticed through the eyes of the common.

In the Mapuche culture, the Earth always delivers messages and warnings. There exists a belief about the Quila, which is a perennial bamboo growing in the humid temperate forests of Chile and Argentina. History has demonstrated that when the Quila comes into bloom (only every 70-90 years), and the Colihue gets dry after then, it is bad omen. According to the mapuche, the Earth tries to warn us about “great battles coming”, and with it famine and drought. But after that come new buds and “young land”.

quila chilean bamboo
The quila, Chilean bamboo

Here’s a few historic examples demonstrating how the quila has been warning us without knowing:

  • When the Spanish conquerors arrived from the north of Mataquito, the quila came into bloom throughout the south of the Bío Bío Region.
  • When Cornelio Saavedra invaded Malleco, the quila blossomed from Villarrica to Boroa on the shores of the Toltén River.
  • Before the financial crisis of 1929, it blossomed in all its splendor.

In early November of 2019, it occurred once again. What has been happening globally was announced, but we failed to see it as the modern cultures turn a blind eye regarding the damages we are causing to Mother Earth and to ourselves.

With their millennial experience, the Mapuches have been able to accumulate rich knowledge in the different areas of life. Starting with its ancestral historical heritage, such as art, socio-political organization, health, the spirituality, religion, economy, culture, politics, philosophy, education, organization social, among other components.