#potd – Huanchaco for sunsets, surf and pre-Inca cultures

#Huanchaco, a coastal town some 10km north-west of the large northern Peru city of #Trujillo, was unknown to us until we arrived there for a week, and a pretty decent place it turned out to be. In fact it was famous for several things – it’s sunsets and surf; the ancient fishing craft ‘caballitos de totora‘ on the beach; the second oldest catholic church in Peru built by the Spanish, as ever sitting on high ground and threatening the town & people below (nice views up there, didn’t go in of course); and its links to pre-Inca cultures in the region going back 2000+ years – Chan Chan the one time capital of the Chimu culture is located between Huanchaco and Trujillo.

We’d been a bit nervous coming up here to north Peru because of the devastating rains, flash floods & mudslides that had struck the region in mid-March. Across Peru over 200 died and hundreds of thousands were displaced. The centre of Trujillo was flooded at least six times, a working class district (or shanty town) El Porvenir was almost washed away, and bridges across rivers on roads heading south were destroyed leaving the north coast cut off from Lima and the south – which wasn’t sorted until late April. We certainly didn’t want to be disaster tourists and nor did we want to get in the way! However research indicated things had improved, but just in case we opted to stay initially outside Trujillo in Huanchaco. Which turned out to be fine, whilst in Trujillo the most obvious hangover from the floods in the central area was the dried mud/dust and some remaining sandbags. Continue reading

Back to Peru for some hummus, roll-ups and ancient fishing boats

In early May we got out of Chile, and came back to Peru to check out some more pre-Inca history up on the north coast near Trujillo & Huanchaco – the Moche & Chimu cultures, and some sea going reed fishing boats, or rafts, called ‘caballitos de totora’ (or ‘de mar’), constructed using ancient craft skills dating back several thousand years and known only to a few. These boats are clearly linked to the Moche & Chimu cultures, and possibly earlier.

However they’ve moved with the times as you can see in the fotos, and now use polystyrene blocks to help float the boats, not something available in these parts two thousand years ago. Although the paddle or oar remains very basic, just a long bamboo pole cut in half lengthways. It looks hard work on the hands…but it seems to do the trick though as they negotiate their way out to sea through decent sized waves, and eventually back in again. The sea here looks and is cold, but the weather isn’t, even now in the autumn – a good 25 degrees minimum most days, and too hot on other days to even sit in the sun for long. Continue reading

Valparaiso – it gets knocked down, it gets up again!

Walking through the main streets of the port area of #Valparaiso #Chile early one morning, it was eerily quiet and deserted, with very little traffic. This though was not the 11 September 1973, the day the military coup against the Allende government started, although perhaps it was a little like that then. This was in fact 20 April 2017, census day, when everyone was required to remain home and be counted. In 1973 they’d been required to remain home or be shot by the military & police in their streets, or bombed by the Chilean navy situated in the port & bay, with their naval guns facing the city. To this day the Chilean navy remains based in Valparaiso, with ships in the port harbour, just a warning perhaps?

The 1973 military coup was one of many knocks taken by Valparaiso over the years – another was the fact that General Augusto Pinochet, the coup leader & soon-to-be dictator, was a son of Valparaiso, born there in 1915. But as ever Valparaiso bounces back, and today is home to the Chilean Congress (since 1990 when Pinochet stepped down), a greatly recovering local economy, and maintains a strong alternative/bohemian culture alongside it’s working class & international roots. Continue reading

The Ascensores (funicular railways) of #Valparaiso sure test your vertigo!

Artilleria – view from top

The ‘ascensores’ of #Valparaiso, #Chile (funicular railways, but literally translated meaning ‘escalators’) are these days more of a tourist attraction, but when first built their function was largely to move the workers up and down from Valparaiso’s main port & business area faster. Today those that remain provide a test of one’s vertigo, and nerve, and some stunning views of the city, and they are cheap too costing 100 to 300 pesos (12p to 35p) each way.

On our ‘Tours for Tips‘ excellent walking tour, we’re sure they said the first acsensor was built in 1868, and that there were once 33 of them, however other sources give figures such as 25 or less in total and the first built was in 1883 (Ascensores Concepcion – now back in operation). What is clear is that only 8 appear to remain in operation today, and some of them are regularly closed for maintenance. This website (in spanish, and not updated since 2013) gives some info on the individual ascensors – Ascensores de Valparaiso. Continue reading

Street Art in #Chile no.4 – #Valparaiso just art

Gallery

This gallery contains 20 photos.

Back to amazing #Valparaiso ‘la ciudad pintada’ or ‘la ciudad de murales’ (the painted city or city of murals) for some more great street art. The previous post on Valparaiso art featured some of Valpo’s agit prop and more social … Continue reading

Street Art in #Chile no.3 – #Valparaiso social murals and agitprop

Gallery

This gallery contains 18 photos.

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

#potd – Birds on the Beach in La Serena (at the Mouth of the River Elqui)

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.

looking south

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