Chapter 14: Ruca, Maté, and Guests

“Would you two like to stay for dinner? I was expecting guests, but I have more than enough food made to include a couple youngsters.” Quidel asked as he poured the maté for Rich and Milly. “YES PLEASE! Rich and I are starving!” Milly exclaimed. Just as Quidel finished filling a couple of bowls and gave them to Rich and Milly, Milly’s father entered the hut and with him was Richard’s father, Joe. Quidel welcomed them. “Richard?” Joe said with a pleasantly surprised tone in his voice. “Hi Dad!” “Well, you seem to have ventured a little further than usual. And if you’re hanging out in the ruca of the Flaming Torch, you must have had some day!” “Yeah! This day has been a crazy one. I still feel like I’m dreaming.” Joe took a knee in front of his son to speak to him on his level. Meanwhile, Milly ran over to hug her father and tell him about her day. Joe said to Rich, “Yes this place is very different from the home we know, and these people are a wealth of hospitality. They have created a beautiful community in these hills. People don’t visit this village very often because their town is falling apart. Most people where we are from believe that this place is a slum, and avoid this area. One thing I’ve come to learn is that they may be short on change, but they are tall in spirit. Their commitment to each other has overcome great challenges that I hope you and I will never have to go through.”

Quidel said to Rich, “while you all eat, I will work on these stones for you. I can extract a piece from each one that is more manageable to carry around, and I’ll polish them up for you too.” “Wow, that would be great!” Rich said. “Thank you, Quidel.” said Joe.

Chapter 1: Richard and Millaray

Once upon a feather, there lived a young girl named Millaray. She liked to go by Milly because it sounded pretty, and Millaray was named after the golden flowers she was given when she was born. Her uncle picked them himself. She was given everything she ever wanted before she wanted it by everyone and everything in her life. To Milly, everything was a gift, and this made her feel appreciated, happy, and fulfilled. She had a knack for appreciating the pretty in the world. The young girl had colorful rock beads on her pretty, self-crafted bracelet. She wore a golden eagle’s feather in her long, pretty hair. She loved to sing her favorite pretty song while she collected her favorite rocks to bring back to her uncle. He would instruct her to go wash her little face and tell her to come right back to hear a pretty story. The story was always the best part of her day. It was a gift as was everything else in her eyes. Those are just a few of the things that Millaray received without ever asking for them.

Millaray’s father was a wise man of the Mapuche natives. The Mapuche are a civilization in Southern Chile whose lands are slowly being claimed by their own government due to overwhelming debt problems. The name of Millaray’s father was Maiten, which means tree in his language. Maiten was well renowned as a leader with a strong moral compass within his tribe, but he fell under serious criticism when he sought to resolve their own debt struggles in their community. His village was extremely poor; people were starving for resources, money, and work. As the Leader of his community, Maiten resorted to mining the precious metals from his reservation at the advice of a lifelong friend. This was an act of desperation to fund his villagers’ needs and service his community’s debts. He always felt like they needed more than they had, but everyone else felt the wealth of his incredible wisdom is all they have ever really needed. They trusted him because of his great history of leadership. He’s been guiding this village since he was only 20 years old, and that was 20 years before the story of Rich and Milly. After all they went through, they strongly believed in Maiten’s judgment.