Chile is a long, narrow country on the west coast of South America. The name ‘Chile‘ comes from the word ‘Chilli’-an Indian word meaning ‘where the land ends’. The land is full of ancient mysticism and tradition. It is overflowing with legends. For instance, in Rapa Nui Island, there are over 600 massive colossal stone sculptures nearly six meters high, known as `Moai’, standing with their backs to the Pacific Ocean and whose origin is cloaked in mystery. The stones are carved from the volcanoes!
“In other places there are mummies found which are dated to be older than the Egyptian mummies”, relates Pablo. In any case, many archeological experts believe that the men who built these must have been part of a very religious culture because they raised their ancestors to the level of the gods. “There are hundreds of mysterious ancient drawings found on top of rocks that were so high that the only way to view them was from the air! Nobody knows who made those drawings or how they were made”, he continues.
Chile was `discovered’ in 1541, by Spanish captain Pedro de Valdivia. Actually, the focus of Spanish colonization at that time was Peru. They heard the Inca Indians of Peru had lots of gold and silver. So they defeated the Incas and took all their gold and silver. Chile at that time was only a frontier land south of Peru. One of the Spanish conquerors, Diego de Almagro pushed back through the frontier land in search of more gold and silver. Valdivia followed suit. His search turned out to be even better than he’d imagined. He found rich farmlands and luxuriant forests. But Spanish dominion in Araucania was short-lived. Mapuches killed Valdivia in the battle of Tucapel.
After the Spaniards, many other European settlers came to Chile as well: Germans, Italians, Palestinians, Croatians and the English. And they brought with them varieties of European dishes, vegetables and fruits. Over three-quarters of Chileans today live in the Central Valley which has a pleasant climate and the country’s richest soil. For over two centuries, the city of Santiago remained the only city in Central Chile, while large farm-estates called ‘haciendas’ formed the basis of rural society. In the Central Valley, wheat is the most valuable crop. Other grains include corn, barley, rice and oats. Farmers also grow beans, potatoes, sugar beets, and other vegetables, as well as grapes, citrus fruits, peaches and nuts.
“In other places there are mummies found which are dated to be older than the Egyptian mummies”, relates Pablo.