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Where is it?
That’s what my boss’s mother heard. She had a produce market and she rented some rooms in 1950’s Santiago. Many of her tenants were newly arrived mapuche from the south and that expression was what she heard the most. She heard it so much that she nicknamed the mapuche los cheumeleyes. Her son told me that story, almost sixty years later.
My kimelfe, my teacher and friend, told me about when he came to Santiago. He had many siblings and his parents couldn’t afford to maintain them. So they asked him, being the eldest, to leave. A friend of his father could receive him in Santiago. And so he left his land, Rangintulewfu, and his language. He came to the big city and to Spanish, a language he needn’t speak up to that point.
The first time it rained, he couldn’t bear the grief anymore. And so he did as when in the south: he walked barefoot under the rain for miles, in his makuñ, crying. 1
The makuñ is a kind of poncho worn by the mapuche men. ↩