Chile: Valparaiso – downhill for lunch

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As regular readers know I was in Chile in November and I’ve been terribly slack in finishing up my posts about the trip.  We ended our trip with a few days in Valparaiso and that is where I’m up to in my posting.  Over the weekend I was saddened to read of the fires that ripped through areas of Valparaiso and which are still burning.  I saw one report which said Chile’s forestry agency has predicted it will take 3 weeks to put the fires out completely. The city of Valparaiso is spread over 42 hills and the fire began in a forest on Saturday and quickly spread into one of the hills and then into 6 others where people live without city water connections. No water connections means no fire hydrants and the streets are not wide enough for emergency vehicles.  Helicopters were used to dump water on hotspots. Valparaiso has a population of more than 250,000 scattered about those 42 hills in wonderfully coloured, haphazard housing reached by narrow, winding roadways.   On Sunday the mayor, Jorge Castro,  said “We are too vulnerable as a city.  We have been builders and architects of our own danger”.

Back in November we had wandered those steep narrow streets up to  Pablo Neruda’s house and then started our walk downhill towards the port   –  it was quite a way down but we’re nearly there……….

As we descended I made note of this – just in-case…  IMG_7677

The first stock market in Latin America was established in Valparaiso in 1898,  it was home to Chile’s first public library (1873) and birthplace of the world’s oldest Spanish-language newspaper, El Mercurio.

After the 1906 earthquake this area was rebuilt on landfill –  much of the original port is under the square (Plaza Sotomayor) – a sort of in situ mausoleum. The Armada de Chile dominates Plaza Sotomayor –  it was built in 1906 and is the edificio de la Primera Zona Naval (naval headquarters).   The Monumento a los Heroes de Iquique (Monument to the Heroes of Iquique) sits opposite and on top is Arturo Plat.

We had lunch at the Capullito on the Sotomayor Plaza.  I don’t remember what I had to eat with my wine but the manservant’s bowl was a type of surf & turf.   The entertainment arrived with the food…

Being on a plaza it was the ideal location for some people watching…..

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18 responses

  1. I admire you for continuing to write posts on your trip to Chile. There have been topics and trips I could have written several posts about, but I either slacked off for so long I couldn’t recall details anymore, or I lost interest in writing about it. When you’re working and have a busy personal life, it gets hard to update a blog regularly.

    That said, I love your pictures of Valparaiso. The buildings remind me of how much California has lost to earthquakes, and more sadly, to developers who didn’t want to spend money on restoring the gorgeous old mission-style and colonial buildings from the 17th and 18th centuries. Most people in the state don’t realize we share a Spanish colonial past with South America because we’ve torn down all those beautiful old public buildings and mansions, which Valparaiso’s residents had the good sense to preserve. (I don’t like that we also share a proximity to an earthquake fault and tsunamis. Brrr.)

    • It’s just as well I had already written up the museums/galleries/churches because I would’ve forgotten those details by now. With the exception of Pablo Neruda’s house we didn’t do anything “cultural” in these last few days – but Valparaiso is a UNESCO World Heritage Site so just wandering about the area I was soaking up culture.

      Yes that is so true about developers and people not realizing their heritage once churches/buildings/neighborhoods are gone. I’ve visited a few of the Missions in CA – they are gorgeous – I learnt some interesting history of California by going to them.

  2. So interesting! You are getting me keen to get to Sth America. One of these days. I love the photos, both the buildings and the people. The pigeon person looks interesting, and those two young ones look in the middle of a fight. Check out the crossed arms and head turned away, “not happy, Jan”, and he is “Oh God! So what did I do wrong THIS time!”

    • Yes the body language of the couple says it all doesn’t it! 🙂 The woman was pulling handfuls of food out of her bag for the pigeons. It was a great place to sit and just people watch – I would’ve been happy to sit there for many hours filling up my memory card.

  3. Such a timely post and so sad! I knew of the recent earthquakes there but not about these fires. It may sound backwards to say but I’m glad that you photographed the area somewhat. You never know how your tourist photos may be somebody’s only physical recollection of their family’s home. Keep posting!

    • You’re right though MT – a while ago I was contacted by an architect who was wanting to use a photo I’d taken of a school boathouse & posted on Vox (luckily I’d transported over to WP or they’d never have found me!) – the boathouse had burnt down and apparently the school did not have any photos of it and they were wanting to use my photo in their presentation to the local council for permit approval to rebuild in the same style.

  4. I saw the news about these fires and felt so sad. I visits back during Christmas 2006 and loved it so much. How sad to have such a loss. Thanks for sharing your photos.

  5. As you’ve posted all these stories I can’t help but think the education system in Australia short-changed us. So much history and culture around the world that we were never taught. All that mattered was the British Empire and explorers. I learned nothing about South America except from Walt Disney cartoons which I read out of school hours.

    The Armada de Chile building is stunning. Thanks for this series Emjay….it’s been a delight.

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