Welcome to Bedrock, Chile.
For the longest time I wondered what on Earth was going on in that hill across from my home. “Boom! Boom! Boom!”several times a day followed by the rumbling of stones down the hill. The dust it raises forms a cloud that settles on every vehicle, in every home and even some lungs… cough cough. I sometimes wish I could just hose down my home the way they do an industrial bathroom. You know, the ones with the stainless steel doors and a drain on the floor; much easier. As it is when I do hose down the outer walls it looks like the bleeding tears of the Madonna. Everything in our area appears as if it went through one of the Instagram or Flikr filters to make it seem like the old west.
I was not a fan of this hill. It represented filth and noise to me. There is constant movement on it. Maybe it is a small mountain. You can run up a hill. You can’t run up this thing. There are winding roads, dirt roads of course, wrapping themselves around it like the grooves of a top. Every now and then a tarp appears for workers to take refuge underneath. Day in and day out that anthill of tiny people on tiny trucks setting off explosions gives me cause to mumble like a crazy person as I wipe down everything, knowing full well a fresh coat will land within hours. “Progress”, I grumble. Blowing up a mountain to reshape it into modern day suburbia. That would be my neighborhood. At the foot of that hill are hundreds upon hundreds of brand new gated communities that depend on this rock for attractive landscaping and whatnot.
One day I decided to jog to the other side of the mountain, to see what I could see. Not that I was earnestly curious. I had to add some kilometers to my jog and according to http://runkeeper.com I could do so with a nice circuit around whatever was back there. Off I went down a lonely road until at some point I think I stepped through a worm hole. When I landed on the other side I arrived in the town of Las Canteras – The Stone Quarry, or better yet “Bedrock”.
Piles and piles of stone lined the street; each pile categorized by size and color. The contrast of humble wooden homes with stone sidewalks, entrances and even a stone ping pong table was a feast for my eyes. I don’t know who stared the most during that jog, the residents at me or myself at my surroundings. I was giddy. I had to come back and take this area in, give it the attention it deserved, garner even more stares from the locals. I did look odd. I was a gringa with flaming red hair (In one of the 2 available colors in the country) running for sport in a town where people use their feet for transportation. At least I gave the packs of dogs something to chase. Ah yes, the dogs, the local home security system. I made sure to warn my kids about them. “Now stick together! We need to look like a pack so they don’t come after you.” You see for my second trip I brought my kids and my dogs and of course Chocolate . Chocolate is a street dog who has adopted us. So off I went leading my little ones on what ended up being a 4.5 hour walk through the town of Bedrock.
The walk went by quickly as the kids were as excited about this town as I was. It had variety, color, creativity. This is the country that gave us the Moai http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moai of Easter Island. In fact there were several modern renditions of them standing guard on the sidewalk. The kids wanted one. Mind you, it was hand carved stone and twice my height. “Someday and smaller.” I promised. I meant it too. Hunger started calling so we marched up to a local snack shop.
Past the now customary pile of stones there lay a garden and quite the porch. I asked the owner and yes, her family designed and built all of it. Each stone carefully selected and cut to interlock as a mosaic of strength and beauty. I mentioned that somehow, I didn’t think this fortress of a home had any trouble handling http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2010_Chile_earthquake the big quake. Oh, no, nothing she said with pride.
I guess we won her over when my son told her this was his dream home. Soon after she waved us through the door for a tour. If you have ever lived in Chile, you will appreciate that this is a great honor. They are very private people and it may take years to reach this point in a relationship with some folks. Then again, she had the chance to brag to a family of expats dragging their jaws on the floor in pure admiration of her home. Right on the other side of her door was her quincho which is a separate BBQ grill area in the back yard. Her quincho of course was B.C. chic, because, well, we were in Bedrock and Wilma was showing off her kitchen.
We hugged and kissed and waved good-bye to Wilma. It was time for our picnic. A little while down the road we found of course, stone picnic tables next to… yes a hopscotch game; with each number represented by a carved stepping stone. While the kids ate and played I heard the “Clink, clink” of a mallet and chisel. There he was, parked underneath a tarp, surrounded by piles of rock and a wheelbarrow: Fred Flintstone. Well Luis actually. Poor Luis, he had no idea what hit him when I marched up to him and promptly sat down. I sat face to face with him, munched on my sandwich and yammered away about my day’s adventures, life story and littered in between, questions about his craft. Rain started to fall which sent my picnic crew, dogs and all, creeping over, politely so as not to kick any stone out-of-place. There we were, huddled under the tarp in the rain, watching Fred Flintstone measure and trace the lines of each stone with chalk and carefully chip away at it. Not for some impressive sculpture, no, for use as a brick in a wall or on an entrance way. Each stone, hand measured and carved.
The rain let up long enough for my motley crew to head home. We all said our goodbyes. No doubt we gave Fred and Wilma something to talk about at the dinner table. Man, that must be some dinner table. My kids slept well that night. They not only had a lengthy walking tour through time, they had plenty to dream about.