The historic port city of #Valparaiso on Chile’s central coast is called by some the ‘la ciudad pintada’ or ‘la ciudad de murales’ (painted city or city of murals), and for good reason – never before had we seen such … Continue reading →
Was that a very strong wind blowing the house? No, definitely not. The floor, walls and ceiling are moving, and we need to move too!The port city of #Valparaiso in #Chile was hit by a 6.9 earthquake around 6.38pm on Monday 24 April, and we’d never experienced anything like it.
She was downstairs starting to cook, her earthquake training from old Vancouver days kicked in, in an instant the gas was off & she stood in a doorway. Moments later she was outside.
He was upstairs watching 2 buildings that had been on fire near to the port for the last hour, causing traffic chaos. He thought it was a strong wind, but as the ceiling light fitting bounced up and down and the walls moved, he very nervously dashed down the stairs and outside too. The 2 Chileans working at the hostal were outside too, the guy was very nonchalant and said how common such events were in Chile, but the woman was much more nervous. That was a big one. She contacted her kids. The quake had struck some 35km out to sea at a depth of around 25km. Initially it was listed as being 6.5, then 6.7, then 7.1, but 6.9 seems to be the final size. That’s big enough. (see local reports & pics from La Estrella in spanish). Continue reading →
If you walk down Avenida De Aguirre some 2km to the coast from the city of La Serena (central Chile), and head north along the beach for another 25 minutes, you’ll be in for a real bird-life surprise. At the mouth of the River Elqui and on the surrounding beach you’ll find flocks of birds of numerous different types, to the extent that it’s an almost eery place to be – alone amongst so many birds.
On the occassions we went it was just us, the odd lone fisherman a little upriver, a rather windswept lone nudist, too much polluting rubbish, and a hell of a lot of birds. Initially timid, they soon ignored us (the birds that is) and regrouped all around, waiting we presume for the sea tide to bring them some fish for lunch. It was fascinating to sit quietly and just watch their movements & behaviours (note – we know sod all about birds!).Continue reading →
A friendly middle-aged Chilean told us in #LaSerena (Chile – central coastal area), that when the US & UK backed military coup in Chile occurred on 11th September 1973, afterwards the dictatorship of General Pinochet “turned off the art”. All art & political slogans were cleared from walls across the country (and ‘art’ generally was repressed), and so it stayed for many years. Since the end of the dictatorship in 1990, from what we can see Chileans have been making up for lost time! Street art & painting remains technically illegal unless you have the permission of the ‘wall owner’, but given the number of individuals & small groups we’ve seen busy in the streets then it’s a law that’s about as ineffective as, say, the law banning cannabis in the UK. (See pics gallery below). Continue reading →
Noticed how shopping Malls pretty much all look the same? This one could be any drive by and in Mall in north America, but in fact it’s in #Chile, south America, in the city of La Serena in the central coastal area. And yes it’s just another shopping mall, same old same old. Full of chain shops, cafes & restaraunts, banks and the like, many with the same names as in north America, or of companies that are mere subsiduaries of northern corporations. This one had a BUPA (private healthcare) health centre next to it!
This one is called ‘Mall Plaza La Serena’, it’s pretty new, it overlooks the main road, the Pan American Highway, that runs north/south along Chile’s coast. Once upon a time a local told us, there used to be a wood of trees here that local kids & youth played in, now it’s just manicured palm trees & green grass, and lots of parking space. It could so easily be north America, although perhaps the ever-present Tsunami Warning signs are a slight giveaway here!
We’ve noticed the growth of Malls elsewhere in Peru & Bolivia. Cusco now has one, Lima has plenty, La Paz has one in Zona Sur, and so on. La Serena has two in fact, an older one 15 minutes walk away on the other side of the Pan American, called ‘Centro Commercial Puerta del Mar’, although the coast is 2km away. The slow growth of Americanised consumerism in south America is slowly impacting on community & social life – Malls gather together shops & services like banks & healthcare and social venues like cinemas & cafes – and these draw people away from their neighbourhoods. Those neighbourhoods then suffer from lack of custom, older community shops & social spaces begin to struggle and close down, and before you know it the community is struggling to survive. It’s a part of what we know as gentrification, and the social costs can be huge as wealth inequality is amplified and corporate profits go up!Beware south America you don’t end up like the north…..
Since arriving in #Chile from #Bolivia three weeks ago we’ve been struck by the enormous amount of high quality, detailed, #streetart, and in particular large murals covering entire walls. We’d been impressed by the many fine works of street art … Continue reading →
Since arriving in Chile we’ve been very much taken with the Peppercorn trees of #Chile – we saw them in the Plaza Mayor of San Pedro de Atacama, throughout the beautiful & fertile Elqui Valley and in La Serena. With their slightly bent lower branches providing welcome shade they remind us a little of the weeping willow back home in the UK near to rivers. But what really struck us was their attractive pink’ish flowers, looking rather like grapes, that to our surprise contained a small hard fruit….that smelt of pepper! Er…we thought our traditional ‘black pepper’ grew on vines, as indeed it does!Continue reading →