“The Quixote of the Andes”

Family with eight kids

This is how they know Mauricio Alarcón Vidal at the other side of the Andes Mountains. The Customs officers talked to us about him after telling them about our project. Mauricio climbs the mountains to visit the houses of the most humble area of the region and the second most poor of Chile. The 3 officials contacted immediately the Carabineros (police) to get us the phone number of the Quixote. They even called him and he told us that he would be waiting for us at his home. We took a sinuous gravel road going down the mountain to meet him. We arrived there on a Friday night, he welcomed us with a smile, not understanding much why we were there, but with an open heart to talk and get to know each other. He welcomed us with a “mate” (traditional type of infusion from Argentina) that had a drawing of Buenos Aires, capital city of Argentina, and its typical dance, the Tango. This is how, after 2 hours of conversation without even noticing it, he told us about how it all started. Eleven years ago, when he was just 22 years old, he met all these people who live modestly up in the mountains, isolated and forgotten. Continue reading