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”.
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…..