A major surprise to be found whilst checking out the entire port/seafront area of #Valparaiso in Chile, is a colony of seals that hang around near to and on an old concrete structure near the port’s passenger terminal (map). This is close to the metro station Baron, at the bottom of Cerro Baron (Baron hill). You can while away a good few hours hanging out on the harbour wall watching the seals jumping out of the sea onto the structure with varying degrees of success, and their cranky grumpy behaviour when a new arrival makes it up onto the platform and waddles his/her way through looking for a spot to lie down. Those seals can be very grumpy & loud, no doubt they have their own ranking system or hierarchy!. 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).
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
After arriving on the Pacific coast of Chile near the city of La Serena, naturally one of the first things to do is go see the sea. After 4 months in the Andes we were looking forwards to the coast again. So it’s a bit of a shock jumping off the bus in the port of Coquimbo (in the huge bay of same name), to see immediately this warning – Tsunami Hazard Zone.
In fact such signs, and others relating to earthquakes, are all over Chile, and particularly near the coast for the simple reason that Chile experiences a lot of both earthquakes & tsunamis. Indeed on 16 September 2015 following an 8.3 earthquake at sea south west of Coquimbo city, a few minutes later around 8pm a huge Tsunami wave hit the Coquimbo port area, going some 4-5m over the sea wall, and causing huge damage. Other coastal towns/ports such as Valparaiso, Tongoy & Concon also experienced damage & flooding, leaving some 13 dead & 6 missing, and many thousands in damaged homes. (See info, science & news on 2015 in spanish, english, and english again). Continue reading