Our Fifteen Minutes of Fame on Conception Hill

A modest dose of history with wine and empanada

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Posting about our departure from Valparaiso, Chile (see Valparaiso Departure III “The Sunset”) brings us to the time spent wandering this World Heritage Site, added to the UNESCO list in 2003.  Within the amphitheater of hills is Cerro Conception (Conception Hill), historically settled by English and German immigrants.  The façade of the Hotel Brighton, a building from the 19th century heyday of Valparaiso when it was a stopping point for shipping through the Straits of Magellan, reveals why so many of the buildings are alike: all are constructed from materials dropped off from sailing ships.

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Hotel BrightonThe theme of the Hotel Brighton evokes thoughts of immigrants remembering their origins, emigres claiming a spot of real estate to mold a sense of place for themselves.  This goes both ways, Valparaiso, Indiana was formerly Porterville of Porter County.  The motive force behind the renaming were the memories of the retired Captain David Porter, the sole survivor of an attack on his ship USS Essex by the British frigates Phoebe and Cherub in the War of 1812, within sight of Valparaiso. Fifty eight (58) United States Marines lost their lives in that sea battle.  To point out the obvious, Captain Porter is the namesake of Porter County.  

Pam corrects me when I say we “stopped for lunch” at the Hotel Brighton, pointing out we “only” had a glass of red wine and an empanada.  Both were tasty, even more so with this marvelous view looking north into the other hills of the city.  The yellow umbrella is on the hotel restaurant terrace.  

Hotel Brighton

I missed capturing the signature wrought iron gate forming the word “Brighton” among decorative scrolls.  Built on the edge of Conception Hill it overlooks the coastal plain almost all of which is man-made.

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Hotel Brighton

During our refreshment, this young lady (see photograph below) introduced herself as a reporter for El Mercurio.  Accompanied by a photographer, she interviewed us and we had our photograph taken, I returned the favor with the following photograph saying the story might appear in the next edition.  Standing next to her, with a puzzled look, is our waitress who was from the States.

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Hotel Brighton

El Mercurio de Valparaiso is the oldest continuously published Spanish language newspaper in the world.  In my research for these photographs I discovered the newpaper officers were a short walk from the landing of the Ascensor Conception.

Continued with Valparaiso Separation

Copyright 2018 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Valparaiso Departure III “The Sunset”

The Sun’s Progress

Two minutes after capturing the last light on Concon Point, see “Valparaiso Departure II”, turning the camera 180 degrees, to the south, looking along the Chilean coast, to capture birds on the wing headed toward shore at day’s end.
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Remembering other times,

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waiting for darkness

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with a sky map, studying it to make sense of the stars.

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How far?  How large?

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Light from our star, eight minutes old,

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grazed the earth’s rim the breath of a moth wing ago.

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Connect the dots, stories of heroes, monsters.

 

 

Our star, as we know it now

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Singular, alone,

 

 

Progress, an illusion to be understood

 

 

No less mysterious for that

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Look back to the sheltering headland of Valparaiso, glowing.

 

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Click the link to visit my posting from the next day, “Island Romance”

Here is a link to more postings about Valparaiso, “Our Fifteen Minutes of Fame on Conception Hill.”

Copyright 2018 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Valparaiso Departure II

View of Aconcagua Mountain at Sunset

After the Ocean Princess sailed off toward its destiny in my last posting, “Valparaiso Departure I,” Pam and I left the deck for dinner to return two hours later for the Regatta’s departure in the magic sunset hour.

This first photograph is 22 minutes before sunset as the ship swung into a course along the northern shore of Valparaiso Bay.  The city grew along the bay shore, starting from the city center in the southern cup and into the north.  We are looking southeast across a lighthouse named “Club de Yates”, identified from the red fiberglass tower, a triangular daymark, toward the north end of Valparaiso.

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Here we see a different city altogether, the fourth largest of Chile and also within the Valparaiso Region and the Greater Valparaiso Area, named Vina Del Mar (Vineyard of the Sea).  The view is almost due east and, from here, it is difficult to discern why it is also called “La Ciudad Jardin” (Garden City), it is do densely populated.  North Valparaiso ends with a ridge with Vina Del Mar the next valley.  Look carefully along the shore to find the Punta Gruesa lighthouse with a red band on a white metal tower daymark.  By way of scale the tower is 56 feet high.  Follow Punta Gruesa to the right for the ridge separating Vina Del Mar (the taller apartment buildings, from Valparaiso.

The distant mountain is huge, visible from 95 miles away.  More about it later.  

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The previous photographs were using a tripod mounted Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III with the Canon 70 – 300 mm f4-5.6 L IS USM lens set to 108 mm focal length, taken 15 seconds apart.  I then swapped  the EF 24 mm f 1.4 L USM lens for the following photograph of the pilot boat heading to a rendezvous with the Regatta, having dropped off “our” harbor pilot.  It will wait beyond the harbor to bring the pilot back home.  The photograph is 7 minutes after the previous.  Punta Gruesa and the lighthouse and the Vina Del Mar apartment towers are just visible, having lost the sun.

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On the northern tip of Valparaiso Bay Punta Concon, the City of Concon and tall sand dunes also called Concon reflect the sun’s light 10 minutes before sunset.  The city is the fastest growing in Chile, 106% between 1992 and 2010 (28,157 to 50,000).  The Regatta is now well underway and I returned to the “long” lens here set to the 3oo mm focal length maximum.

On the other side of Punta Concon (Concon Point) the Aconcagua River flows into the Pacific.  Although the river has the same name as Aconcagua Mountain, the head waters are in Chile, 12 miles from the slopes of the mountain in Argentina.

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A swivel of the camera brings Aconcagua Mountain into view.  This former volcano, dead now for 8 – 10 million years is the highest mountain in North and South America.  The next highest peak is in the Hindu Kush, 10,000 miles to the northeast.  That said, Aconcagua is less challenging than Denali of Alaska and so many people attempt it each year human excrement is a major pollutant there.  We are looking here over the Vina Del Mar Valley 95 miles to Aconcagua Mountain in Argentina.

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Copyright 2018 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Valparaiso Departure I

Thoughts on Departures

To continue with the theme of our encounter with Isla Mocha in my previous posting, “Island Romance”, we return to Valparaiso to experience a departure.  Late that afternoon Pam and I enjoyed entertainments on the Regatta.  This painting of a ship under sail brings to mind the history of Valparaiso, as a place only reachable by ship, clinging to a narrow ledge on the Andes, barely existing for centuries, repeatedly destroyed by earthquakes until the 19th century brought sailing vessels such as this, growth and prosperity.  Major earthquakes hit the years 1730, 1822, 1839, 1873, 1906, 1907.  After 1907, the city was rebuilt anew in the modern form.  The inhabitants must enjoy spot, naming it “Vale of Paradise.”

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While, in the 21st century the city enjoys a refreshment of an influx of artists and visitors such as the Regatta, the danger of the next massive quake is ever present and unpredictable.

As we enjoyed the artwork….

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….a pianist entertained us.

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As usual, I was carting photography equipment to capture the moments as the afternoon moved towards…

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….the scheduled departure among still life painting in the style of the Dutch masters.

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That day I chose the upper decks as the best vantage point.  From there, Pam and I viewed the departure of a similar ship to the Regatta, the “Ocean Princess.”  It must have been the last voyage of the Princess under that name as, the same year, it was acquired by the Oceania line, refurbished, relaunched as the “Sirena”.

The Chilean navy base and Naval Academy is there.  The Ocean Princess navigated around this docked destroyer…..

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…with the assistance of the tugboat Alcatraz, a name derived from the Spanish word for pelican as in “La Isla de los Alcatraces” (Island of the Pelicans) where the former Alcatraz prison was built in San Francisco Harbor.  Spanish speakers think of birds when viewing the tub boat.  Americans think of prisoners (escaping) and San Francisco.  Unlike San Francisco Harbor, Valparaiso Bay is a semi-circle open to the ocean, the harbor is on the southern, north facing (away from the ocean) shore, protected by a long (3,000 foot) breakwater along which the Chilean war ships dock.  We are viewing the Alcatraz after most of the work for the Ocean Princess departure was done.

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The north end of the bay is residential, behind the towers are homes arrayed on the hillside, the only land available.

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Much of the harbor and city business district, in the foreground (below), on the south side is on land reclaimed from the sea.

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All around the Regatta was a working port.  Here rolls of cable (wire?) are prepared for hoisting onto a cargo ship.  Note the hawsers, taught under the strain, between the workmen and the ship hull.

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Passengers board the Regatta from the last tours.  I expect this is the trip to Santiago.  Most of the dockings the Regatta was surrounded by the port, the only way to access the city was on a tour bus as the port activity made walking too dangerous.

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I can only guess the role the Alcatraz is playing here…..

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…. probably it is positioned to give the Ocean Princess a nudge if the harbor pilot misjudges the turn around the breakwater and warships.  In a harbor, a ship’s crew passes control to a harbor pilot who knows the navigation challenges much better than is possible for them.

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Today, as 99.9% of all days, the pilot makes the turn safely.  Here is a better view of the warship.

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Looking back toward the harbor, the crane is hoisting those rolls, the tug boat “Lauca” framed by the superstructure of (I think) the crane.

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The Ocean Princess is will under way, as shown by the long wake.  As luck will have it, When the Regatta follows the sun will be much lower, the light better for photography.  At the stern of the warship, the masted vessel is a training ship for the Chilean Naval Academy.

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Learn of the view of the highest mountain in North and South American in my posting “Valparaiso Departure II.”

Copyright 2018 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Island Romance

the original Moby Dick

Thinking about the Aran Islands for my last posts, “Killeany Bouy” and “Inisheer Welcomes the 2014 Gaeltacht Irish Football champions” brought me back to Isla Mocha.

Herman Melville’s thoughts were in and around this island off the central Chilean coast when he penned “Moby Dick” in the mid-nineteenth century while sitting in the city of Boston.  He was brought Moby Dick not only by his own experiences on a whaling ship, almost certainly Melville owned a copy of Jeremiah N. Reynolds’ “Mocha Dick: Or The White Whale of the Pacific: A Leaf from a Manuscript Journal,” an true-life account of adventures around Isla Mocha.  Sometime around 1810 Reynolds personally experienced encounters with Mocha Dick after the crew of an Antarctic expedition mutinied, stranding him at Valparaíso, Chile where he remained for two years.

Located  38°21’45.62″S,  73°55’6.91″W, around 8 miles in size north to south, 3.5 miles east to west Isla Mocha is surprisingly simple to find.  A ridge of mountains run the north south axis, just 20 miles off the coast, a ship following the coast will find it easily, as I did from the balcony of the Oceania Regatta during a “sea day” of travel between Valparaiso and Puerto Montt.

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Since waking that day I was on the lookout for Isla Mocha.  In preparation for our month-long cruise around South America every mile of our itinerary was scoured for interesting sights, experiences and information.  When I first learned of Isla Mocha (Mocha Island in English) and the connection with Melville reading about it in Boston, just as I was in Ithaca, one of my goals for that day was to catch sight of Isla Mocha as it rose from the horizon.

My goal was made easier for the cloud formation from the island mountains.  Here is my first photograph, taken from our balcony on the port side.  I chose the port side just for the landward view as the ship progressed southward on the western coast of South America.  The Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III was tripod mounted with an EF 70-300 f4-5.6L variable lens set to 70 mm.  We are northwest of the island with the coast just visible.

Isla Mocha First Sighting

Another view with 188 mm focal length.  The ship must have turned eastward, as the view progressed the island came closer.  It was a fantastic thought to cruise above the subduction zone where the Nazca plate dives beneath the South American Plate.  In the distance, on a clear day, the volcanic cones Villarrea and Quertrupillan are visible.

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With the island due east, only a few miles away, the lens at 221 mm focal length.  A fisherman is having an easier day in a calm sea.  The indigenous people told stories of the souls of the dead travelling west to Isla Mocha.  Pirates used the island as a resupply base.  The fishing boat was the only sign of life.

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That was February 14th Valentine’s Day.  With Isla Mocha passing into the distance I changed for an evening with Pam.  Here we are headed to dinner, somewhere off the coast of Chile’s Lakes (and volcano) region.

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Valentines Day 2016

Copyright 2018 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Inisheer Welcomes the 2014 Gaeltacht Irish Football champions

Inisheer Welcomes Their Champions

After we passed the Killeany bouy on our ferry trip, on the Queen of Aran, (click the link to see this posting) from the harbor of Inis Mor to Doolin, the ship made four, yes four, dockings.

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A few days prior the Gaeltacht held the annual Irish football championship the weekend of May 21 through June 1 in Moycullen, County Galway. It was the Three Aran Islands (Oileaín Árann) team who won the 2014 championship. Sunday, June 1, the weekend of their victory, the cup was presented to Inis Mór, the largest Aran island and the one furthest into Galway Bay.

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The team on Monday, June 2, the day of our trip, was on Inis Meáin, in celebration mode.  Some of them were waiting for the ferry when we pulled into the Inis Meáin, the second largest Aran island between the other two, dock.  

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The first of the previous three photographs is of the waiting team members who boarded and we left for Inisheer Island, the smallest of the three and the closest to Galway City.  The Queen of Aran was well out of the harbor when I imagine the radio in the pilot house said, “Come back, there are more team members on the dock.”  So we turned around, docked and several more came on board.

In way once again, well away from the harbor, the ferry turned around for a second time for a third landing at the  Inis Meáin dock.  With the full compliment of champions on board the ferry turned out of the harbor a third and final time for the last leg of with Silver Cup’s tour of the islands.

The population of Inisheer is about 250 souls.  It seemed all were waiting to greet the team.

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Welcoming Family Group at End Of Dock

A large bon fire blazed as the Queen of Aran approached.

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People lined the dock from beginning to end.

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Calling out, waving their arms.

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Standing and smiling.  Here is a flock of fans, from Galway apparently, very pleased at the sight.

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The team was on the upper ferry deck.  I turned around and was lucky enough to capture the team captain (Not sure, but who else would it be?) holding the silver cup for all to admire.  Theirs for a year.

Showing the Cup

The crowd welcomed their own back home.

Click the link for my Getty IStock photography of the Aran Islands

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Surrounded the team and walked them grandly to town.

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Copyright 2018 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Killeany Bouy

a dangerous channel

The approach to Killeany Bay of the Aran Island Inishmore is very dangerous, guarded by a Lighthouse on Straw Island to the South and the Killeany buoy to the North.

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This view is to the north, northwest from a ferry en route to Inishmaan through Galway Bay.  In the distance is the Connemara and the 12 Bens (12 Pins) mountains. Aran Islands, County Galway, Ireland.

There of stories of this buoy coming unmoored.  October 27th 2012 it went adrift.  An Aran fisherman, Micheál Seóighe (Ml Joyce) and his boat Naomh Beanán tracked  it down, hauled it back to the harbor.  The buoy was back in service shortly after.

Here is a photograph of me with the camera used.  It is a Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III with a Canon lens 200 mm f2.8/L.  I am standing on the deck of the Queen of Aran ferry out of Doolin next to the Cliffs of Mohr.

Pam Wills took this photograph with her Samsung Galaxy 4 smart phone.

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Click the link for my Getty IStock photography of the Aran Islands

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Copyright 2018 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills