Summer was the season for our visit to the edge of eternal, for now, Patagonian ice fields. Remnants from the last ice age, larger than some (small) countries. The site is surprisingly noisy with sharp, explosive, ice crackles.
More amazing even than the sounds, the dark shading on the ice is volcanic dust from recent eruptions of many cones
In the early morning hours of Sunday, September 10, 2017 as Hurricane Irma approached the Florida Keys, I cannot sleep, worried about family members north of Miami and in Daytona Beach. To pass the time, I returned to the golden hours of March 4, 2017 evening. On vacation, Pam and I walked Cocoa Beach starting from Lori Wilson Park, headed north.
The light was perfect when I decided to switch to Raw-Jpeg mode, feeling the extra space was worth it. I don’t know why I don’t shoot Raw 100% of the time, as always, in retrospect, I regret using jpeg only. The camera was the Sony Alpha 700 dslr with a DT 18-200mm f3.5-6.3 lens purchased 2008 after an expedition to the Superstition Wilderness.
After capturing a wedding photo shoot and surfers there was this set of two Kite Skaters going at least 20 miles an hour. The Sony Alpha was quick enough to capture some of the action in raw mode, I am not satisfied with the sharpness of the images as the lens was not fast enough.
We had never watched kite skaters before and were prepared to understand the vision from watching distant kite surfers out beyond the breakers. North winds are the best for any type of kiting on Cocoa Beach and, that day, the wind was northeast. These riders zipped by in less than a minute. The sport is low key, it does not exist on Wikipedia. Image that. These two are having a fantastic time and stayed upright, going on and on and on down the miles long beach.
1990 KiteSkate pioneers on the USA east coast experimented with four-line controllable parafoil kites powering in-line skates for exciting rides on asphalt surfaces.
The name “Wheels of Doom” suggest the danger of going this fast over a hard, rough surface.
These Cocoa Beach riders are outfitted for speed and safety: pads, helmets.
Barefeet?? Unprotected skin? They must know how to dress, though maybe not. He has never fallen?
The beach within the tide line is solid, the pebbles, broken shells and such unforgiving as asphalt.
Booking our February/March 2016 passage on the Oceania Regatta from Lima, Peru to Buenos Aires, Argentina we started early, Spring 2017. We made two excellent choices: a stateroom with balcony on the port side. Waking each morning we were treated to views of the shoreline. On the morning of February 15, 2016 as we sailed the Chacao Channel toward Puerto Montt I was up 4:15 am before the sun rose to photograph our approach to the city.
I knew a classic 8,701 foot high stratovolcano topped with glaciers, named Orsorno, was out there and, amazingly, appeared on the horizon, seventy five miles distant to the northeast outlined by the gathering dawn. The sky was just brightening from total darkness at this time.
With grandchildren in the Miami Area and a sister in Daytona Beach, Florida was on my mind this morning and memories of this beautiful experience on Cocoa Beach came to mind. After an eventful day touring the NASA launch control center, Pam and I took an evening walk during the golden hour, me with camera in hand.
Full in expectation of catching the passing scene with lots of shot I set to full size jpeg mode using a Sony Alpha 700 dslr with a DT 18-200mm f3.5-6.3 lens. The light was exceptional, so I did not expect much post production work.
My first impression was of the line of cruise ships heading south from Port Canaveral, the starboard side lit perfectly behind human denizens of the Cocoa Beach shore, in full enjoyment mode. A synergy of the images struck me. I took a few experimental shots then, as we progressed down the beach front this unusual tableau came into view.
The session proceeded smoothly and professionally, it was a pleasure to watch. I felt no compunction for capturing these private moments on a public beach, the transcendence of the images reflect well on all participants.
Trundled along within our bubble, the Mercedes tour bus proceeded up Avenue Montt when Ricardo pointed out this statue for ridicule. A depiction of the Chilean national bird, the Condor, porteños derisively call it “The Chicken,” and in truth the wingspan is undersized. From the vantage of the above photograph, the statue form does capture an impression of soaring among the hills of Valparaiso. Keep in mind, beyond those hills is Aconcagua, the highest mountain of the western hemisphere, home to Condors.
A reason for writing multiple Varparaiso “connection” posts is to better understand the jumbled impressions from that day. In a previous post I coined the term Varparasians for natives of the city. I found in researching this post the residents, as for Buenos Aires, call themselves porteños (people of the port). This cast iron statue speaks to the contributions of French immigrants to the city and nation.
Here the view is south towards (what I believe is) Cerro Florida (Florida Hill). France Avenue continues, beyond the monument, following a steep and winding path up the hills, at the crest intersecting with German Avenue. Adjacent, on the right, is Park Italia where we’ll visit in part VI. Above a cast iron basin, at each corner of the commemorative column base is a female mask, above them a gold band inscribed (from the) “The French of Valparaiso” with 1810 – 1910 to denote the centennial. A condor with outspread wings surmounts the column.
The artist, Nicanor Plaza, born in Santiago, Chile was living in Florence, Italy at the time of this commission. He was a natural choice for the commission. Trained in Chile and Paris, Plaza taught for the Academy of Fine Arts of Santiago. It is of cast iron, produced by the French company Val Osne, an art foundry dating back to 1835. The owner, Jean Pierre Andre Victor, invented a cast iron ornamental technique originally used to produce street furniture.
From 1854 to 1895 immigration from France burgeoned, from a country total of 1,654 to 8,266. This cohort is credited with developing the vineyards of the Central Valley, still famous today. The Chilean president Augusto Pinochet descended on his father’s side from an 18th-century French Breton immigrant from Lamballe and his mother was a descendant from 17th century immigrants, partially Basque. Pinochet’s legacy can only be attributed to himself and the ruling Junta. What is of concern is (1) Pinochet was protected against prosecution throughout his life. (2) The same people who protected him still hold power. A case in point is the Esmeralda, still in service.
I took this photograph at dawn from our stateroom balcony, it is the Esmeralda, a four-masted top sail schooner, from Spain, christened May 12, 1953. From 1973 to 1980 it was a floating torture chamber where up to 100 persons were subjected to hideous treatment by the Pinochet regime. Protests erupt wherever it docks in a foreign port yet it remains in service. A relatively small part of the puzzle, yet it serves as an unacknowledged monument to the failure of Chile’s ruling elite to come to terms with the recent past.
“Valparaiso Connections III” brought us to Pedro Montt Avenue and the building of this imposing façade, Congreso Nacional de Chile (National Congress of Chile). The very fact it is in Valparaiso is a recollection of the former National Congress, disbanded by the ruling Junta on September 13, 1973. During the final years the Pinochet dictatorship chose Valparaiso for the site of a new congress building. The former National Congress building still stands in Santiago, now housing the offices of both houses of congress.
I am fascinated the façade is shared by two founding fathers of Chile, Bernardo O’Higgins and José Miguel Carrera. O’Higgins father never married his mother (in other words, Bernardo was a bastard). Cared for by his mother’s privileged family, he used his mother’s family name until the death of his father. Carrera, was also born of privilege, the acknowledge son of his father who attended the best schools, well positioned to lead the movement for Chilean independence. Benefactors looked after O’Higgins, they sent the seventeen year old to Europe to finish his education.
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In the chaos of war, in spite of ill-health and lack of military training, O’Higgins out performed Carrera as an officer through reckless bravery; surviving, he became an admired military leader through this example and ultimate victories. Carrera resented being overtaken (by a bastard), did not respect O’Higgins leadership and the two feuded. O’Higgins became the first head of the independent Chile while Carrera gathered a force. Exiled in Paraguay, Carrera marched across the intervening wastes battling indigenous forces. Eventually captured by those loyal to O’Higgins, Carrera suffered a mock trial and execution.
All five of Carrera’s legitimate offspring married and prospered, today his descendants number in the hundreds, being the majority of Chile’s ruling class. Today, the followers of Carrera (Carreristas) fight for his recognition against the O’Higginistas, who they despise. The balance is on display on the National Congress façade on Pedro Montt Avenue. The building is next to Plaza O’Higgins.
Measured by acreage, O’Higgins is far ahead of Carrera. The following photograph, from my posting “A Far Country VII: View of Tempanos Fjord” is from within Bernardo O’Higgins National Park, the largest protected land in Chile.
A large lake in Patagonia is named after General Carrera.
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“Valparaiso Connections II” left us with these friendly Valparasians, if such a word can be used to describe residents of the city, chatting on Argentina Avenue.
It was Saturday, the happy occasion of the weekend street fair, kiosks sprouting like mushrooms, thinly attended this early morning.
We did not pause to wander, instead turned up a street known as Pedro Montt, named for a Chilean president of the early 2oth century. Was we turned, monumental street sculpture, rising from the kiosks, caught my eye.
A creation of the great national artist Mario Irarrzabal, it invokes solidarity through the image of four thick copper cables twisted together to form one, the union that can happen to achieve bigger things. Opened in 1995, crafted of iron, wood and copper, after Pinochet passed power to a new democratic constitution and still held office as a Senator, protected from extradition, in the National Congress located just to the west of the monument.
The imagery works on multiple levels. Known as “Copper Cable Monument” or “Copper Column,” the monument also stands for Chilenización del cobre (Chileanization of copper), a movement began during the presidency of General Carlos Ibáñez del Campo. Concluded in the presidency of Salvador Allende, the takeover of foreign owned mines lead to the isolation of Chile and was a component of the support of the USA, via the CIA, for the Pinochet 1973 Chilean coup d’état. Pinochet retained state control of the mines in the face of strong popular support for the huge contribution to state coffers. To this day CODELCO (in English National Copper Corporation of Chile) operates as a corporate entity.
As with our guide, Ricardo (“Valparaiso Departure I”) and the companions at the start of today’s post, Irarrzabal was profoundly affected by the Pinochet dictatorship. Under its influence as well as the sculpture of Easter Island, the artist began work on monumental sculptures. Pam and I visited one on the other side of the South America “cone,” Punta del Este, Uruguay.
Built from Brava beach at the height of the dictatorship, 1982, of concrete, steel rebar, mesh covered with a corrosion resistant coating, the artist title it “Man Emerging to Life.” He was a young man at the time, the work built his reputation and he repeated the theme internationally as well as, in 1992, 1,181 miles away the “Hand of the Desert.” At that time while Chile was emerging from the Pinochet dictatorship the palm as well as fingers are visible. The “cone” of South American, Chile and Argentina, are encompassed by the left hand of the east, a right hand of the west.
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Ricaro’s name tag reads, “Oceania Cruises, your world, your way.” I began my two previous blogs with Ricardo, “Valparaiso Separation” and “Valparaiso Connections I.” There’s a lot to be said for the Oceania tours. Every one lead by a knowledgeable native of the host country, fluent in English, we became familiar, some more than others, with them personally, one non-representative example. As were progressed down the coast from Iquique to Cape Horn we met a cross section of Chileans. Unlike other countries, in Chile we met only unsmiling guards on the streets, no protest rallies.
As the tour bus is about to turn down Varparaiso’s Argentina Avenue, here is a flash forward to an elaborate demonstration tableau in the Plaza de Mayo, the Casa Rosada as a backdrop, rose as in the color of bull’s blood used as pigment. The protest was in support for veterans and causalities of the ill considered 1982 Falklands War. We zoomed by the Parque De La Memoria, dedicated to the 30,000 people “disappeared” by the same military dictatorship of the Falklands War debacle.
Our entry to both Valparaiso and Buenos Aires was a cruise over the secret graves of thousands dropped, alive, into the ocean from military aircraft.
What is most chilling is the silence about this throughout our travels in Chile. No memorials, no protests, silence, only stone faced military guards.
The following is from Basílica y Convento de San Francisco de Lima, beneath which are catacombs piled with disarticulated skeletons buried and cared for in the Catholic tradition .
In Lima’s Plaza de Armas we witnessed this peaceful demonstration by pensioners protesting low payments. To be honest, around this time, in Chile, there were huge demonstrations, hundreds of thousands in Santiago, about the same issue.
The Lima crowd was peaceful.
Watched by a heavy contingent of armed police supported by large “paddy wagons” to cart people away. The vehicle marked “Prodegur” (i.e., prosecution) was one of them. Given the history of government disappearances in the region, how brave the demonstrators must be.
Our vehicle turns onto Argentina Avenue, passing under Spanish Avenue and these supports bruiting the “Patrimony of Humanity” status of Valparaiso.
We’ll start in the parking lot of the Valparaiso Passenger Terminal, introduced in my last posting, “Valparaiso Old and New”. The terminal was our first stop in Valparaiso, it services cruise ship passengers, it was in the parking lot we met Ricardo, a guide and city native. In his late sixties, Ricardo lived through numbing changes: the political turn left and election of Allende, followed by a military coup d’état (called golpe de estado in Spanish) and rise of a military officer, Pinochet, to dictator. From the 70’s through 80’s Pinochet ruled, abolishing the congress in Santiago, enjoying ruthless suppression of opponents with the full support and assistance of the military. In the late 80’s Pinochet allowed a return to democracy, a new constitution with a bi-cameral (two houses) congress in Valparaiso and elected president. Ricardo was quiet about these times, as are most Chileans and we did not press him.
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The bus passed a carved wooden statue of the albatross, near the terminal entrance. A bird of the southern ocean, familiar to mariners for the habit of following ships, this aspect of soaring the a familiar posture.
Here is a specimen in this posture following the Regatta on February 22 as we traversed the Southern Atlantic between the Falkands and Punta del Este. That day, many albatross soared among the 20+ foot waves, the wingtips very close to the water surface.
The day before, February 21, the Regatta approached the southern most point of the western hemisphere, Cape Horn, coming within a mile of the landing point and monument. At the top you can see the steel sculpture of the outline of an albatross set in a stone plinth.
A cropped version of the above image, the albatross outline is easier to see. Also visible, at the cliff base, the landing, stairs, a platform painted as a Chilean flag, the railings leading up to the Albatross Monument.
All of this to emphasize the unique position and reason for being of Valparaiso of the eastern South Pacific, made evident by the recurring motif of an albatross soaring among the waves. This retired anchor, close to the albatross sculpture, on our way to Argentina Avenue and the weekend street fair (to be continued).
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Shortly after breakfast Pam and I were among a gathering of travelers, several friends made in the last ten days among them, waiting in the Regatta lounge for tour assignments. In my previous posting, “Valparaiso Separation, you can see exactly where the Regatta was docked among the orderly chaos of the port as seen from the Ascensor Conception. “Valparaiso Separation” also includes several photographs from my early morning hours on our port side stateroom terrace photographing the approach to Valparaiso and the city itself.
Walking down the gang plank, our bus assignment in hand, number 17, we boarded a shuttle to take us through the port, to customs. See the upper left corner? Here is part of a loading crane, seemingly the underside of a bridge. In “Valparaiso Departure I” you saw it loading rolls of wire.
The structure labeled TCVAL is called the Gottwald, a mobile harbor crane from the TEREX based in Dusseldorf, Germany. TCVAL is an acronym, “Terminal Cerros de Valparaíso” (Hills Terminal of Valparaiso), and stands for the port management company.
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I caught two overviews of the area from our stateroom balcony.
Looking along the port side of the Regatta. Our room was on the same level as the bridge, visible on the right with several Regatta officers enjoying the Valparaiso port view. From here, the shipping containers (“Hamburg SUD”) are loaded onto semi-tractor trailers for points all around South America, they call the southern most land “The Cone.”
We are surrounded by labels, the #17 in our hands, “Regatta” on the ship bow, all with a story to tell.
Unlabeled from this side, two towers covered with multi-colored panels, shades of green and blue with white, the Hotel ibis Valparaiso. I looked it up on Google Maps.
To the right is AIEP Valparaiso, a technical college, founded just three years before, 2013. We are seeing them from behind, the side that faces the harbor, both the hotel and school front a street named Errázuriz.
Take note of the lower floors with the large, crisscrossed supporting struts.
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Back on the shuttle, we pass along those lower floors. Look to the right of the Gandara Chile, SA truck….dinosaur models. The floor above seems to be retail displays of bulk packaged products.
Everywhere stacked shipping containers….
…throngs of busy workers. This fellow works for “Building Services”, a cleaner.
We’ve looked right. To the left a view of the port opens. War ships in the distance. Foreground is a general cargo ship, the crane midship is used for unloading in smaller ports. Currently unloaded, we can tell by how high it is riding. There is a rope ladder on the visible starboard side, a landing boat with an outboard motor along side. One person is visible on the upper deck, wearing a baseball cap.
Named “Danstar” home port Valparaiso, the Chilean flag hangs stern side. A general cargo ship, I looked it up. On the day I started this post, it was sailing the southern pacific heading from Hanga Roa, Easter Island. The label on the bridge, CA 4392, is the radio call sign. The bilge pump is working….wonder how strict the pollution stands are for Valparaiso harbor?
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Back to the left, an unpromising aspect. No labels here. Shortly after the transport unloaded us for customs. I generally do not photograph those workings, no use being pulled aside for questioning by unsympathetic officers. Just a precaution, the entire trip the customs people were friendly and the inspections cursory.
Here is where our slip of paper, #17, is used just in case we forget the number. Here is wonderful guide, Ricardo, holding a loft the #17 flag in from of bus #17. The wonderful city of Valparaiso laid out for us in the morning sun, the sky cloudless.
New buses, nice!!!
Ricardo introduces himself. His name tag “Oceania, Your World, Your Way.” Cannot help getting some humor from that.
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Copyright 2018 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills