How we live now | Chile

The house that tortillas built

How a tortilla oven survived a tsunami and fed three generations of one Chilean family

A very small white house in Chile. The roof made of corrugated cardboard. Three steps lead to the light blue front door. The lowest step is broken off. Next to the front door is a window. You can't see inside the house On the roof is the Chilean flag and electricity cables. There are wooden boards next to the house. The houses around the small house are bigger. On the area in front of the house is a broken manhole. Changed in the original

The house of Maria and Diomedes in Lirquèn, Chile

Hidden behind a noisy, chaotic market in Lirquén, a Chilean port village north of the city of Concepción, is a narrow alley. At its end is the plot of land where Maria and Diomedes built a house for their family of seven in the 1970s.

During the week, Diomedes used to go out on his fishing boat to catch seafood, which Maria then sold with tortillas at the local market. Maria baked the tortillas herself in a large clay oven in her house.

When parts of Chile were flooded by a tsunami in 2010, Lirquén was also affected. Maria and Diomedes fled but returned home to find their house in ruins. Everything had been washed away - except for the clay oven.

Today, their daughter, granddaughter and great-granddaughter live together in the house they rebuilt after the tsunami. The daughter and granddaughter have taken over the business and now pedal their own homemade tortillas at the local market, baked in the historic oven used by their grandparents.