Valparaiso Connections II

the Chilean difference

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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.

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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 consecrated, disarticulated skeletons.

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.

Turning onto Argentina Avenue, the overpass support columns announce Valparaiso’s status as a World Heritage Site. It is the old city around the port which holds this designation.

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.

Two men carry on conversation on Avenue Argentina, Valparaiso during the weekend Avenue Argentina street fair.

They gives us big smiles and waves when they spotted me / us.  The people were open and friendly.

Copyright 2018 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Valparaiso Connections I

The Albatross and 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).

Copyright 2018 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Valparaiso Old and New

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.

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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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Click to see more “Valparaiso Connections I”
Copyright 2018 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Valparaiso Separation

Learn about funiculars

To begin with an epilogue to my last post, “Our Fifteen Minutes of Fame on Conception Hill” , our meeting with the El Mercurio reporter never appeared.  Inquiries to the newspaper per  promptly and courteously replied to, there was nothing.  They suggested a search of the online archive and only a January 2014 fashion show, the article featured a photo from the same terrace.  After our pleasant time we walked off some calories on Gervasoni Promenade, a showcase of city harbor and hillside views.

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Most city visits on this cruise we traded independence and flexibility for the convenience of the guided tour.  Ricardo, our guide, was a knowledgeable, good humored companion to our small group.  After we left the promenade for Calle Conception Ricardo was most helpful.

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It was here I entered a photographic fugue, losing touch with my surroundings through concentration on capturing the moment.

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I walked ahead of Pam, expecting her to follow, and caught the view of the arriving care of the Conception funicular.

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Wow, that’s the Regatta at dock.  Other elements of this vista are the harbor, of course, then the famous Turri clock tower.  Hmmm, almost 1:30 pm.

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I was fascinated by the view of a drydock the Regatta passed while docking early that  morning.  It is the red structure with the letters “Sociber”, it even has a Facebook page!!!

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Once at street level the experience of the crowd on the alley opening onto Calle Prat, waiting for the ride up, brought back reality.  “Where’s Pam?”  I could not go back up because of the crowd, the views from the car fell from my mind.

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I was on the street, disoriented and alone.

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I fell back on photography to pass the time.  Nowhere near the charm of Cerro Conception, typical downtown urban environment.

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A man approached the family across Prat, “What is going on?” I wondered when the tour bus arrived.  Still no Pam.

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Oh, it is an ice cream vendor.  Delicious.  “Where’s Pam?”  Ricardo not around, either.  Back on the bus, waiting, a younger member of the tour was an Irish wag who declaimed on the benefits of freedom, even temporary.

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Finally, Ricardo arrived followed by a few other tour members and Pam.  Whew!!  I’ll never live down “deserting” her.  She was not able to find the entrance to the Conception funicular.  Along with a few others they kept each other company until Ricardo rounded them up.   That was a long 20 minutes (reading from the photograph metadata), I was worried.  As I mentioned, at the time I was clueless about my whereabouts.  Reviewing the numerous photographs, I found the “Servicio Nacional de Aduanas” (National Customs) building across the where Calle Esmeralda joins with Cochrane and pieced it together from there.

About the Conception funicular, that morning while the Regata docked I caught this view of Valparaiso hillside.  It is a microcosm of the Andean topography, ravines cut through the heights.  This is when I noted the Sociber drydock, it is on the lower left…look down into it — the business is to sell that dry space in the middle of the harbor for ship repair.  The space and be flooded, opened to allow entry of a ship, then drained for work on the hull or whatever.

The city pioneers adapted to this terrain.  As a entrepreneurial endeavor, in 1882 Mr. Liberio E. Brieba Pacheco founded the Mechanical Elevators Company of Valparaíso.  Conception funicular opened the following year to facilitate the urbanization of Alegre and Concepción hills.  Conception funicular is closed for repairs currently, from 1883 until recently this, the oldest and first funicular of Valparaiso lifted people from the downtown Plan (plain) to the hilltop for a small fee.

Funicular is derived from latin “funis” for rope.  It is an elevator that runs two counter balanced cars on a rails on a steep, less than vertical, slope.  As one car rises the other lowers.

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Here are some views of the Conception funicular and environs as seen from the upper Regatta deck.  First, a 24 mm wide angle view.  Look to the center for the rails and one car at the top.  Above are the buildings of Cerro Conception (Conception Hill).

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The funicular emerges from downtown on the right in the following view. The prominent church is Parroquia Perpetuo Socorro, just above the midpoint.  It rises from Cerro Cordillera, above Cerro Conception.  A Catholic church founded by the Redemptionist Fathers, the first stone was laid down 1905.  Learning from the devastating earthquake of 1906, the engineer Juan Tonkin chose construction of Oregon pine and concrete to stand tall today.  What a view (I’ve seen photographs).

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A view a bit to the right, many of the colorful exteriors are zinc panels brought from early sailing ships, repurposed as siding.

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After the wide angle shot I used the variable “zoom” lens for the rest.  Here is a close view of the Conception funicular.  The business of building and running these services thrived, over the years up to 29 funiculars and one elevator, served the city portenos (people of the port).  In 2018 seven are in operation, nine are under a process of restoration and modernization, including Conception.

Click to see more in “Valparaiso Old and New”j

Copyright 2018 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Our Fifteen Minutes of Fame on Conception Hill

A modest dose of history with wine and empanada

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