A Photo Essay
notes from November 2231 AD
Ancient legends speak of the River Lethe, crossed by departing souls. The waters of the Lethe wash away memory, allowing for spiritual rebirth, reincarnation, a return to the world in new form.
This memory implant represents a bridge over the Lethe.
For those chosen to cross over to the new land in return for
their treasure, lives and selves.
This virtual monoculture glade from the long time of forests,
a place of happy gatherings, of families, plentiful food and water.
These sycamores grew over centuries, through thousands of days, wider than 10 people,
white with age as the outer covering, called bark, falls away.
climbing to the sky.
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A Deeper Understanding
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.
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The O’Higgins Carrera Feud
“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.
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.
Copper Cable and History
“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.
the Chilean difference
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.
Other murals feature the zinc panels of the Old Town and cultural opportunities. I noticed the pictured flooring is identical that of Hotel Brighton, see “Our Fifteen Minutes of Fame on Conception Hill.”
I wonder how a man of a certain ago scrapes his knees, these appear to be homeless people.
They gives us big smiles and waves when they spotted me / us. The people were open and friendly.
The Albatross and Valparaiso
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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).
Stray Thoughts on Labeling, Valparaiso Port
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.
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.
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?
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.
A late summer Friday evening
Since 1877 primary education in Uruguay is universal, compulsory and free. These days students receive free education through university, literacy is the highest in South America at 95%, equally for males and females.
These photographs are from a cruise around South American my wife, Pam, and I enjoyed February / March 2016 on the Oceania ship Regatta. This was the evening of February 26, 2016, a Friday, in the city Montevideo, Uruguay.
This image is the theme of this blog, “back to school”. On Avenue Gral Eugenio Garzon of the Colon neighborhood of Montevideo a mother and four daughters discuss a shop window featuring “back to school” clothing and necessaries. The children range in age from pre-school to teen. This is evidently a serious discussion about preparing for the school year which starts in March for Uruguay.
A government program launched in 2007 expands Information and Communication technologies in primary schools with these goals:
— To distribute technology,
— To promote knowledge,
— To generate social equity.
Called Ceibal, after a tree native to Uruguay, the program was a success. From 2009 – 2012 450,000 laptops, popularly named “”ceibalitas”, were delivered to children coordinate with teacher training and a monitoring and evaluation model for assessing the impact nationally. Ceibal is the acronym for “Conectividad Educativa de Informática Básica para el Aprendizaje en Línea” (Educational Connectivity/Basic Computing for Online Learning in English).
These photographs build on the theme of the positive influence education has on the lives of Uruguayans, many of whom live in poverty.
A family gathering in their yard on Avenue Gral Eugenio Garzon, enjoying a cool late summer evening.
Traffic and a gas station. People were out and about, walking and conversing. There is a makeshift trailer attached to the motorcycle, behind is a large truck.
Storefront with customer and man loitering on wall. A mini-Honda all terrain vehicle is on display.
Mate is a beverage enjoyed throughout South America. Here companions enjoy a warm summer evening with a thermos of hot water and mate gourd behind a restaurant, their view across the train tracks and the Colon rail station is of a playground and playing fields.
A family of very young soccer players coming from practice with teammates. The sponsors of lucky number 7 are the bank Banrisul and Tramontina, a kitchenware manufacturer.
We waited to board an historic train and shared the station with Montevideans waiting for a passenger train. Here are two families: a mother and pre-teen daughter colorfully dressed, a grandmother and grandson. Behind them are the playing fields and playground.
A passenger train heading north passed while we waited for our ride to begin. Curiosity shines from this child’s eyes.
Happy families greeted us with waves and smiles during our trip to downtown Montevideo.
Some of the homes along the rail line. Pools such as that are popular in cities. We saw a great many on the streets in Lima, Peru.
Reaction to the historic train from a group of young men.
Curious playmates gather at the end of the road.
A well attended playground.
Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved
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