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Day 96 – The That’s What She Said Post (More Chiloean Wood)

January 14, 2011

Location: Castro, Chiloe, Chile

Date: Friday, January 14, 2011

My brother and I were talking about Evil Dead II, a cult classic comedy-horror movie.

“What makes it funny? What about horror can be comedy?” I asked.

“Well, you know how in horror movies there’s sometimes blood?” he replied. “In Evil Dead II, there’s blood too, but the blood doesn’t just come out of the people; it’s everywhere. It comes out everything. At one point, the walls start to ooze blood, at which point you’re so overwhelmed with the stuff that it’s ridiculous. What should be horror becomes something else. You have to laugh.”

In other words, if you have a bit of something (blood) it will be one thing (gross). If you add a bit more, it can be just that (more gross). But if you blow it out and there’s ridiculous, ludicrous, unimaginable amounts of that thing, it becomes something entirely different (no longer gross, now totally hilarious).

Today I felt much the same way. I spent much of yesterday wandering through religious wood (churches, to be exact). I thought I’d seen enough.

Not according to the church that sits in the middle of Castro off the main square. On impulse, I walked in and was overwhelmed. Stunned. There wasn’t just wood on the walls. It felt like wood was coming out of wood. Statues, pillars, doors, pews, chandeliers, floor, everything was brown, lacquered wood. I started wondering if the stained glass might be made out of the stuff. Whether the priests wore robes made of wood and read a liturgy hewn into sections of tree stump.

It was ridiculous. What, in small quantities might have felt kitschy was, in this grotesque amount, totally amazing. Whoever designed and decorated this place knew what they like and it was good, hard wood. In a town called Castro, no less.

A quick visit to the cultural museum was also instructive. There, I found a sequence of pictures depicting something typical of Chiloe: a minga. It’s basically a work day where island residents would trade labor with each other. Sometimes it would be to build a house or barn. Sometimes it would be to help someone move house. Literally. As in pick up a house and move it all by hand.

Afterwards, the person who received the help would liquor his neighbors up and stuff them full of meats. They’d basically throw a party, sometimes with music and dancing. It’s a great way to get thing done and to keep the community going. A minga: a tradition worth replicating just about anywhere.

A Cool Picture That Just Doesn’t Fit The (Loose) Narrative

GALLERY: Click through to see more shots of Castro, food Mervyn ate, and other odds and ends.

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