“The gladdest moment in human life, me thinks, is a departure into unknown lands.” – Sir Richard Burton
It all started when María, as always inspirational, showed me photos from her trip to Chiloé. She complained about getting totally wet on the firts day, being unprepared to the rainy weather and ending up buying all the clothes neccesary for more rain. But then she admited that whatever the weather is like on the island, it is always picturesque and charming.
For a long time I did not find an opportunity to visit this most famous island of Chile. I had already been on the continent for two years and not visisting Chiloé was something odd in the eyes of all the Chileans. This is probably first or second destination they mentions as a touristic must. There are so many hidden gems to be discovered in South America that somewhere so popular like Chiloé was not seeming very tempting. I really enjoy going where not many go, but going to Chiloé was inevitable in the end. I guess the thing that (I wouldn’t say convinced me as I wanted to go there anyway) but slightly prioritized my travel plans was a photo of María and a little wooden dock in the middle of a breathtaking landscape. Ohh man!, all the questions I asked about what and where and how to get there. After seeing the penguins and whales, Muelle de las Almas was the second place I wanted to see on the island (and there was a third thing, about which I will write soon enough).
“We travel, some of us forever, to seek other places, other lives, other souls.” – Anais Nin
After all day of soaking the beautifully green lanscape of the island and vissitng some charming little villages, we got to Cucao, a little place on the western coast. The path was made of dirt and some locals told us that the gate to enter the private property, in which the dock is located closes at 6pm. We were almost resigned, nonetheless we asked, a family member that owns the place as we guessed, if they would let us pass. For a small fee they charged all the visistors and a promise that we would not get lost, we started our 40-minutes long hike through icredible landscape. The smell of fresh trees was penetrating our nostrils quickly reaching our brains. The boost of fresh air was amazing. There was noone there. The only creatures we met on the way were birds and horses.
When we finally got to the point what it looked like the end of the Earth, in front of our eyes appeared an image that could not have been more perfect. It was truly breathtaking. We just stood there for a while admiring the place. Cool wind and setting sun from time to time were reminding us that we cannot stay there forever. It was tempting though.
We got down, sat there for a little while thinking about the legend enriching this place. The magic seemed real. The white foamy waves hitting the cliffs, swishing wind and content sheep in the distance were the only sounds we could hear.
Muelle de las Almas is a little piece of art in a shape of a wooden dock installed in the middle of remote part of the island representing an indigenous mythology.
The oral tradition in Chiloé tells a story about the souls and their journey to transcend this world after the death. THE DOCK OF THE SOULS is a beautiful homage of the sculpture to this oral tradition that I want to share with you and that, more or less, says the following:
THE DOCK OF THE SOULS- KUY-KUY TEMPILKAWE
…”The ancients tell us that when a person dies, his soul must travel to the cliffs of Punta Pirulil and call the Tempilkawe bargeman, who will transport him in his white foam boat to the horizon and the sky, not before being that soul prepared and having its beautiful llanka (colourful precious stones) which he will charge as ticket fare… “
…”In the Mapuche pre-Christian cosmogony there is a universal soul, Pu-am, where the souls of all living creatures, animals and plants congregate. When a human being is conceived, from the Pu-am a unique soul is released, Am, which is part of that living creature until its death. When the man or woman dies, the Am leaves his/her body and becomes Pillü, a state during which the soul does not want to move away from familiar places. However, the state of Pillü is very dangerous because in that state the soul can be trapped by the Kalku and by the Wekufes. When finally Pillü moves away from the places where it lived, it has to reach the island of Ngülchenmaywe, where it becomes Alwe. In this state the soul can no longer be trapped by anyone and so, the soul can return to familiar places to help relatives and descendants. When time passes and no one remembers the dead, the Alwe dissolves in the Pu-am and returns to be part of the universal soul…”
Get soaked in. Seeing new landscapes while traveling is amazing, but allowing yourself to simply be and soak the beauty with all the senses can be very powerful. Whether you are in nature or a busy city, try to soak yourself in the feeling, smell, people watching and all the parts of the surrounding. Try to understand the people, try to see the place in a totally new, more meaningful manner.
Thank you for visiting. Have you visited any magical places recently? Or is there any place that you would love to go to? Share your dreams and inspiration with us.
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Version of the legend in Spanish:
La tradición oral de Chiloé cuenta una historia acerca de las almas y su viaje para trascender después de la muerte. EL MUELLE DE LAS ALMAS es un bonito homenaje de la escultura a esta tradición oral que quiero compartir con vosotros y que, más o menos, dice lo siguiente:
EL MUELLE DE LAS ALMAS- KUY-KUY TEMPILKAWE
…”Cuentan los antiguos que cuando una persona muere, su alma debe viajar a los acantilados de Punta Pirulil y llamar al balsero Tempilkawe, quien lo trasladará en su bote blanco de espuma hacia el horizonte y el cielo, no sin antes estar esa alma preparada y tener sus lindas llanka (piedras preciosas de colores) que cobrará el balsero como pasaje…”
… “En la cosmogonia pre-cristiana mapuche existe un ánima universal, Pu-am, donde concurren las ánimas de todos los seres vivientes, animales y vegetales. Cuando un ser humano viene concebido, entonces, desde el Pu-am se desprende una singular ánima, Am, la cual es parte de ese ser hasta su muerte. Cuando el hombre o mujer muere, el Am sale de su cuerpo y se convierte en Pillü, un estado durante el cual el ánima no quiere alejarse de los lugares familiares. Sin embargo, el estado de Pillü es muy peligroso, pues en ese estado el ánima puede ser atrapada por los Kalku y por los Wekufes. Cuando finalmente el Pillü se aleja de los lugares en donde vivió, tiene que alcanzar la isla de Ngülchenmaywe, donde se convierte en Alwe. En este estado el ánima ya no puede ser atrapada por nadie y así puede volver a los lugares familiares para ayudar a parientes y descendientes. Cuando pasa el tiempo y ya nadie se acuerda del muerto, entonces el Alwe se disuelve en el Pu-am y vuelve a ser parte del ánima universal…”