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 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.

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