Heading South once again
A Road Journey through Central Chile
Our route back to Valdivia took us through a town named Lautaro, after the most famous Mapuche hero.
His real name was Lef-Traru which means Swift Hawk in Mapudungun, the Mapuche language. He was born around 1534 and at the age of 17 was captured by the Spanish and enslaved, becoming Don Pedro de Valdivia’s personal servant. The Spaniards couldn’t pronounce his name so they called him Felipe Lautaro.
Lautaro learned the military ways and skills of the Spanish army by observation. One of his tasks was to care for Valdivia’s horses, he learned not to fear them and even became a good rider himself. Up until then the indigenous people had thought the Spaniards were centaurs, half man half horse.
He witnessed atrocities committed by the Spanish on captive Mapuche warriors including his parents and this caused him to hate his captors with renewed vigour.
At last he managed to escape in 1552. The following year, the Mapuche started organising to fight off the Spanish invasion. Lautaro was appointed vice-chief for his knowledge of Spanish warfare.
He soon introduced horses to the Mapuche and organised a cohesive army. He led the Mapuche to victory in several battles, not least the Battle of Tucapel in 1553 during which Pedro de Valdivia was killed. Unfortunately, a few years later, at the eve of a battle, an Amerindian from a different tribe betrayed him by informing the Spanish of the whereabouts of his army. They were able to launch a surprise attack on 29 April 1557 and Lautaro was killed in battle.
Today Lautaro is revered among Mapuches and non-Mapuche Chileans for his resistance against foreign conquest, servitude and cruelty.
Nearby on a fence was a Mapuche banner, a sign that the fight isn’t quite over.
Mapuche banner: No to the invasion, more respect for the Mapuche
Back in Valdivia we went fresh food shopping at the River Market.
Julie and Angie at the Feria Fluvial
Franco was staying behind to get on with Pesda work while Angie, Julie and I were heading for Northern Patagonia, a part of Chile Julie was keen to visit.
Information about Lautaro sourced from Wikipedia