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

#potd – Seals ahoy in the port of #Valparaiso

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

Short but very Lively – #Mayday in #Santiago Chile

Well the MayDay march in Santiago, #Chile, turned out to be much more eventful than any we’ve seen in Bristol or London the last few years! When the friendly guy we were chatting to said to us: “that’s teargas now, you need to run, the police here are very violent”, and everyone else ran, so did we (but thankfully not too far!). Policing of the march here turned out to be somewhat different to back in the UK – less containment, more full on militarised assault, and the marchers answered in kind, or got in first. As ritualised in its way as the UK marches, but much livelier!

We opted to start with the ‘alternative’ MayDay march (see previous article), not the one organised by the disgraced main CUT (Central Unitaria de Trabajadores), and with it we stayed. We arrived near the junction of Alameda & Brazil in the centre just before 10am for what we thought was a 10am start, but as it turned out the march didn’t move off until after 11am. This gave us plenty of time to take in the bewildering array of banners, flags, colours, drumming bands, unions, political groups, campaigns, slogans, flyers…and realise our spanish just wasn’t up to working some things out at all when it came to the acronyms. 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

Street Art in #Chile no.2 – La Serena’s murals and politics

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

Street Art in #Chile no.1 – San Pedro, Vicuna and Pisco Elqui

Gallery

This gallery contains 13 photos.

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

#potd: The Peppercorn Trees of Chile

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