Categories

Posts by Date

Photo Stories

Hope you enjoy reading about my adventures abroad and seeing what it`s like in the places I`ve been:

  • Argentina
  • Bolivia
  • Canada
  • Chile
  • Ecuador
  • Saudi Arabia

Valparaiso, Chile, May 21, 2011 – Protests and Parades

Last modified on 2011-06-06 19:18:20 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Today is May 21, a day that I’ve been warned about for months. The protests have been happening in the streets all week and month long, but today was the biggest. It was reported that over 20,000 people came to Valparaiso just to participate.

And it felt like it. The protest was massive.

Valparaiso, Chile May 21 protest in Plaza Italia

Valparaiso, Chile May 21 protest in Plaza Italia

What an interesting day, with such contrasting types of parades that it’s hard to believe they happened in the same place on the same day, just hours apart. On one extreme was the biggest protest I’ve ever seen, paraded in full intensity to Plaza Italia, where things soon exploded between protesters and the police.

Before that,  things were peaceful and pleasant. People were smiling and others were chanting and all had very creative banners, catchy slogans and were passionate about something.

Valparaiso, Chile, May 21, 2011 protest parade

Valparaiso, Chile, May 21, 2011 protest parade

gagged

gagged

Cardboard cutout of the former president Allende

Cardboard cutout of the former president Allende

And more:

the Chilean flag, with the star swapped with a dollar sign.

the Chilean flag, with the star swapped with a dollar sign.

democracy fantasma - a phantom of democracy

democracy fantasma - a phantom of democracy

impressive and critical banners paraded by pretty happy and easy going seeming protesters

impressive and creative banners

There were a lot of people out protesting against a big hydro electric project in patagonia called hidroaysen.

Protesting Hidroaysen, the hydro electric project in Patagonia.

Protesting Hidroaysen, the hydro electric project in Patagonia.

Tensions mounted once people arrived at Plaza Italia, where metal gates barricaded the street leading to El Congreso.
Police were waiting in the wings.

 barricade of metal gates and police waiting in the wings

barricade of metal gates and police waiting in the wings

people running away from the police who were using gas and water to disperse the crowd

people running away from the police who were using gas and water to disperse the crowd

And later they brought out these huge tank-like armoured trucks that jetsprayed water laced heavily with pepper spray and lobbed tubes of gas.
And on the other extreme was a patriotically perfect military parade (the navy) marched to the tune of brass bands in tight precision and with heavy police protection down the same streets less than an hour later with images of the smiling president filmed in Plaza Sotomayor a fe blocks away broadcasting simultaneously in the cafes and bars lining the parade route.

perfectly precise navy sailors marching down the same parade route as the protesters just hours before

perfectly precise navy sailors marching down the same parade route as the protesters just hours before

For a peek at all my protest and parade photos, feel free to check out my photo gallery on smug mug, here (my handle is Mariannable).

New Years in Valparaiso, Chile

Last modified on 2011-01-04 01:42:53 GMT. 1 comment. Top.

New Year's Eve 2010 fireworks in the harbour of Valparaiso Chile

New Year's Eve 2010 fireworks in the harbour of Valparaiso Chile

I still can’t believe my good luck. I was invited to join a group of friends to go see the famous fireworks display everyone had been talking about for months, but didn’t expect the invitation would include entrance tickets to the top floor of a 20 storey apartment building right on the harbourfront of Valparaiso, Chile, practically at eye level with the fireworks launched from platforms in the sea all along the harbour and coastline between Valparaiso and Vina del Mar. The fireworks burst in perfect unison, a dazzle of light, colour and heartstopping booms for more than 20 minutes.

Every minute new fireworks exploded into view, each new display completely different than the last.

New Year's Eve 2010 Valparaiso, Chile

New Year's Eve 2010 Valparaiso, Chile

Goregous fireworks in the harbour of Valparaiso, Chile on New Years Eve 2010

Goregous fireworks in the harbour of Valparaiso, Chile on New Years Eve 2010


green fireworks

green fireworks


Loud bombs of fireworks

Loud bombs of fireworks

Then, once it was over and the applause died, we trucked down the stairs and onto the streets. Along with a million other people (literally – reports before the weekend said that more than a million and a half people had flocked to Valparaiso for new years).

Live music throbbed through the Sotomayer Plaza and thousands of people danced danced danced and cheered ¡feliz año nuevo! to friends and acquaintances they spotted milling past.

New Years 2010 in Plaza Sotomayer, Valparaiso, Chile

New Years 2010 in Plaza Sotomayer, Valparaiso, Chile

The party wasn’t just in the main plaza, it was on every street winding up into the cerros too and inside houses and restaurants.

New Years 2010 parties on the street in Valparaiso, Chile

New Year's Eve 2010 - parties on the street in Valparaiso, Chile

What a great place to start a new year. Chileans really know how to have a good time. Cheers to 2011! May 2011 bring wonderful and unexpected adventures and surprises for each of us. Best wishes to all of you reading this right now, no matter when you read it.

Concon, Chile: A Sun-Drenched Seaside Resort Town

Last modified on 2010-10-11 02:57:20 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Concón Chile

Concón Chile

Click here to launch photo gallery.

When my friend Ernesto invited me over for lunch to his family’s condo in a place called Concón, a bedroom resort town a few kilometres outside Viña Del Mar (a city just 9 km from where I live in Valparaíso, Chile), I had no idea of the splendor in store for me.

No wonder this stretch on the seaside has been developed into such an upscale beachside resort town. The view is absolutely glorious when the sun shines, which is often. Ernesto’s condo overlooks miles of sparkling dark blue waves crashing up against a dramatic rocky coastline; it’s quite breathtaking.

Because it was Chile’s Bicentennial that weekend (Sept 18, 2010), it was a great excuse to celebrate lunch with champagne (from Chile, of course) and feast on huge empanadas, the traditional food for this anniversary weekend.

The seafood filled empanadas from Concón, lightly deep-fried until crispy golden cheesy bubbling perfection, are quite famous. The empanada filling of ‘Loco queso’ was my favorite. This doesn’t translate to mean ‘crazy cheese’ like you might think. Locos are a type of shellfish that are extremely rare, but popular worldwide, harvested to the point of extinction until a recent preservation campaign kicked in and recently revived their numbers. The locals are loco for locos (groan), but eating them doesn’t make you any more crazy than you already are. Locos are quite popular, and snapped up quickly when available at the local fish markets, despite the steep price.

Other empanadas for our feast, all wrapped neatly inside brown paper tied with string included cheese with shrimp, crab and cheese, and cheese and ‘macha‘ (razor shell clam).

After a sundrenched afternoon on the deck and in the living room (also lined with windows) muching empanadas, sipping cold drinks and having a great visit, we took a long walk along the rocky coastline.

It was the perfect time to go for a stroll. We passed a man selling intricately constructed old fashioned covered wagon ornaments, and a restaurant built around a rocky cliff, encircling a rocky spire that had been left just as it was, jutting straight up through the floor and out through the ceiling. Further along the road we came to a series of lookouts.

The sunset was spectacular, illuminating the dark waves, rocky crevasses, and the carpet of tough, cactus-like tubal vegetation clinging to the coastline, as well as the silky smooth sand dunes beyond.

What a great weekend getaway. It’s hard to believe that it took less than 45 minutes of driving to get to this modern, peaceful oasis. It felt like we were a million miles away from anything, and light years from the ancient faded grandeur of Valparaíso.

Mil Tambores Festival Parade, in Valparaiso, Chile

Last modified on 2010-10-06 01:54:05 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Mil Tambores Parade Festival

Mil Tambores Parade Festival


Wait a minute, she’s not wearing a costume; that’s just paint! The Mil Tabores (1000 Tambourines) parade and festival turned out to be a real eye opener, an explosion of drumming, colours and creative expression. Much more interesting than the usual parade routine. Chile’s version of Mardi Gras.

Every parade troupe featured some kind of percussion, and at intervals the groups would grind to a halt to put on a show. Bystanders immediately formed a circle around the band and performers, vying for a good view, clogging the parade route. When the show was over, a few minutes later, half the bystanders walked beside the performers as they paraded along, so it was an ever changing sea of people surging down the parade route.

Mil Tambores Parade Sept 30 2010 in Valparaiso, Chile

Mardi Gras type festival parade in Valparaiso, Chile

Click here to launch photo gallery.

The purpose of the Mil Tambores festival is to commemorate the right to peace, justice and living with dignity. I saw a number of people carrying placards that demanded justice, peace or freedom. In the parade we saw a number of Mapuche indigenous groups, some with sombre faces walking slowly to drumming, unsmiling,as if in a death march. Other groups were dressed in fanciful bright costumes in clown colours and swirling princess witch dresses, in full fairy-tale glory.

Some men performed martial arts inspired dances, flipping in the air and twisting horzontally in ways that seemed to defy gravity. A street performer amazed the crowd with his ability to levitate a cyrstal ball, rolling it all over his body and suspending it for breathless moments in mid-air.

There were also a few enormous puppets, towering above the crowds, paper mache’d hands supported by sticks, waving in time to the music and drumming. Others were walking on tall stilts, children included,one hand held by a supportive parent.

Lots of different troupes of women, naked from the waist up, decked from head to toe in paint
sashaying in zig zags up and down the parade route, laughing and smiling in front of the drum squads. You never knew what might pop around the corner next.

Mil Tambores is a new festival, only 10 years old, and every year it gets wilder and crazier, I’m told. It’s going to be a weekend long party, with dancing on the streets (well I was told that would happen for the bicentennial too, and it didn’t but let’s see). The police are out in full force, and there is a tank parked down in the plaza below my cerro, as if expected things to get really out of hand. Bleachers have been set up in the major squares for live music shows and other artistic performances. Should be a fun weekend ahead.

Ascensors of Valparaíso

Last modified on 2010-08-16 20:56:09 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Photo essay showing one of the biggest ascensors (outdoor elevators) of Valparaiso, Chile

Photo essay of the 'Artilleria', one of the biggest ascensors (outdoor elevators) of Valparaiso, Chile

Click here to launch photo gallery.

The ascensors of Valparaíso are one of the coolest things about this city. They are scattered around the city, located on the steepest parts of the cerros (mounts) in Valparaíso. It costs between 280- 300 pesos (50- 60 cents Canadian) to catch a ride up or down, depending on the length of the hill and the size of the cable car. Considering how steep some of these streets are, it’s a huge relief to have an option like this, especially when carrying heavy grocery bags or lugging a backpack around.

The cable cars seat between 6 – 20 people, and are usually made entirely of wood usually. It’s like being inside a wooden panelled room that moves.

There’s always a big jolt as you start off, making you worry that the whole things is unstable and will break and you’ll plunge to your death, but really they are very safe and secure. Two cable cars provide counterbalances to each other on a secure pulley system. The cars glide past each other like well oiled machines, both figuratively and literally.

The views of the city as you rise up (or go down) can be glorious on a sunny day, showing off the ornate details of the tall buildings, interesting angles of the winding streets, art and murals you can’t see in their entirety from ground level, and the dark sparkling waters on the portside of the city in the distance.

Valparaíso Graffiti Day 45

Last modified on 2010-08-24 04:27:20 GMT. 7 comments. Top.

Massive multi-storey mural on an office building featuring an Avatar -like tree

Massive multi-storey mural on an office building featuring an Avatar -like tree

One Side of the Massive Mural

One Side of the Massive Mural

I’ll end this series of graffiti art in Valparaiso with a bang, with a post about a gigantic mural found on a very short street near the end of Calle Blanco. You can see this mural best from the Ascensor Artilleria (you might recognize this image from previous posts). It spans the whole side of a multi-storey building, and features a huge tree in the middle. It’s actually bigger than it looks in this photo. It’s the biggest mural in Valparaiso, and a tourist attraction in itself.

Valparaíso Graffiti Day 44

Last modified on 2010-08-24 04:21:48 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Mural of strange cartoon like multi-legged and space -like creatures on Calle Captain Munoz.

Mural of strange cartoon like multi-legged and space -like creatures on Calle Captain Munoz.


Mural featuring strange space-like images and cartoon characters.

Mural featuring strange space-like images and cartoon characters.

This wacky, Dr. Suess – in- outer -space like image can be found on a quiet residential street near the Naval Museum, on Calle Capitane Muñoz, in Valparaiso, Chile. I particularly like the guy hanging upside down from the lines at the top.

Valparaíso Graffiti Day 43

Last modified on 2010-08-24 04:16:39 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

swirly colors at the end of the mural panel on Calle Blanco, Valparaiso, Chile.

swirly colors at the end of the mural panel on Calle Blanco, Valparaiso, Chile.


Swirly details painted onto a corner of the long mural on Calle Blanco. Wouldn’t it be nice if street corners had colorful trim like this to brighten the way and add a bit of visual interest to drab cement for passersby in every city in the world!

Valparaíso Graffiti Day 42

Last modified on 2010-08-24 04:15:04 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

End of the mural panel on Calle Blanco featuring a town, a child in a cat costume and a man with an upside-down face.

End of the mural panel on Calle Blanco featuring a town, a child in a cat costume and a man with an upside-down face.

The long mural on Calle Blanco ends with this compilation of images. I find the upside-down face of the man a bit disconcerting!

Valparaíso Graffiti Day 41

Last modified on 2010-08-24 04:13:17 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Mural of a boy in a hoodie

Mural of a boy in a hoodie


Here’s the next ‘panel’ in the long mural featuring the girl posted yesterday, along Calle Blanco in Valparaiso, Chile.

Valparaíso Graffiti Day 40

Last modified on 2010-08-24 04:11:28 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

This mural on Calle Blanco features an indigenous girl holding onto reins.

This mural on Calle Blanco features an indigenous girl holding onto reins.


Around the corner from the ‘red’ mural posted over the last few days, along Calle Blanco, is another long mural,and this image of a girl looking to the side takes center stage on it. What she’s looking at will show up on this site tomorrow!

Valparaíso Graffiti Day 39

Last modified on 2010-08-24 04:09:01 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Music themed mural tucked in a dark alleyway along a gated stairway off Calle Urriola, Valparaiso, Chile.

Music themed mural tucked in a dark alleyway along a gated stairway off Calle Urriola, Valparaiso, Chile.


This music themed mural is found on a gated stairway off Calle Urriola, Valparaiso, Chile.

Valparaíso Graffiti Day 38

Last modified on 2010-08-24 03:55:43 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Mural of giant people with afros on the 'Red Corner' mural

Mural of giant people with afros on the 'Red Corner' mural


These tall figures are found in the middle of a long ‘red mural’ on a short street intersecting with Calle Blanco.

Valparaíso Graffiti Day 37

Last modified on 2010-08-24 04:29:14 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Mishmash of cartoon images of characters painted against a red background

Mishmash of cartoon images of characters painted against a red background


Continuation of the 'red corner' mural featuring a cartoon image with a TV for a head.

Continuation of the 'red corner' mural featuring a cartoon image with a T


This is one end of a long mural painted against a red building on a cross street to Calle Blanco.

Valparaíso Graffiti Day 36

Last modified on 2010-08-24 04:05:25 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Surprisingly realistic abstract faces and people off Urriola Street

This mural image of people is spray painted beside the front door of a house on a side street offshoot of Calle Urriola


This girl catches your eye as you walk up the stairs on a narrow sidestreet off Calle Urriola.

This girl catches your eye as you walk up the stairs on a narrow sidestreet off Calle Urriola.

I discovered this mural by chance, while walking up to the front door of a friend’s place, along a steep staircase leading from Calle Urriola to the street above. It’s not a major walkway or route, so finding murals like this lining the way was a lovely surprise. This place is absolutely full of gorgeous art at every turn, literally.

I like how the abstract black and white spraypainted images of people convey as realistic an impression of a person as a real black and white photo.

Valparaíso Graffiti Day 35

Last modified on 2010-08-24 03:49:03 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Graffiti image of a happy cartoon boy

I love the sunshine bursting out of this happy cartoon boy's head.

A particularly happy cartoon image. The sunshine bursting out of this happy cartoon boy’s head always makes me smile as I walk past on Calle Atahualpa, in Valparaiso, Chile.

Valparaíso Graffiti Day 34

Last modified on 2010-08-24 03:46:39 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

abstract hummingbird graffiti art mural

This hummingbird hovers on the wall beside the image of the person with the haunted eyes

Love the swirling colours and abstract details that you can see in this closeup of one of the hummingbirds on the mural on a house on Calle Atahualpa, Valparaiso.

Valparaíso Graffiti Day 33

Last modified on 2010-08-24 03:46:02 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Mural of the top half of a sad face on a house on Calle Atahualpa, Valpariaso, Chile

Mural of the top half of a sad face on a house on Calle Atahualpa, Valpariaso, Chile

When you stand on just the right spot, it’s like this person is watching you, Mona Lisa style.

Valparaíso Graffiti Day 32

Last modified on 2010-08-16 20:53:18 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Compelling black and white graffiti image of a big bird

Compelling black and white graffiti image of a big bird

This striking bird can be found on a fence between two houses on a street that veers of Calle Buenas Yerbas, Valparaíso, Chile.

Valparaíso Graffiti Day 31

Last modified on 2010-08-24 04:36:21 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Black and White graffiti of two faces

Black and White graffiti of two faces

Say Cheese-abstract image of a face of a grinning man.

Say Cheese-abstract image of a face of a grinning man.


Abstract Portrait?

Abstract Portrait?

Here’s another style of abstract portraits. These images live on the side of a house on Calle Yerbas Buenas, Valparaíso.

Valparaíso Graffiti Day 30

Last modified on 2010-08-16 20:53:40 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Two faces tucked around a corner of a house

Two faces tucked around a corner of a house

Close up of two faces that form part of the mural that continues around the corner of a house (pic of the entire mural was posted yesterday, Day 29).

Valparaíso Graffiti Day 29

Last modified on 2010-08-16 20:53:50 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

House on Calle Ecuador Covering In Pretty Graffiti

House on Calle Ecuador Covering In Pretty Graffiti


Mural covering the entire front of a house, including the front door

Mural covering the entire front of a house, including the front door

Murals in the day make one impression, and murals seen after nightfall often make an entirely different impact.

Often it’s only at night, when doors and windows are shut, that you can finally see whole murals as they were originally painted, and all the thematic details come together.

In this case, when the front door is closed on this house on Calle Ecuador, you can you see that there’s a face in the middle of this abstract image mural.

Valparaíso Graffiti Day 28

Last modified on 2010-08-16 20:55:51 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

A tribute to Chile's musical heritage

A tribute to Chile's musical heritage

This intricate and thoughtful mural about the folkloric music of Chile.

Valparaiso Graffiti Day 27

Last modified on 2010-08-16 20:56:00 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

colourful city mural along the side of a corner store on Calle Hector Calvo

colourful city mural along the side of a corner store on Calle Hector Calvo

This richly coloured mural of the city streets of Valparaiso covers the entire front of a tiny ‘Mom and Pop’ style store on Calle Hector Calvo. Small stores like this are open long hours on almost every street block here.

Valparaiso Graffiti Day 26

Last modified on 2010-08-16 20:56:17 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

ascensor mural

ascensor mural

This mural image of an ‘ascensor’, an outdoor cable-car elevator, is a good representation of the one at the foot of the Naval Museum. There are 7 ascensors like this on the steepest bits of various cerros in Valparaiso.

Valparaiso Graffiti Day 24

Last modified on 2010-08-16 20:56:28 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Poetry along a curving wall

Poetry along a curving wall

When poetry is art, in more ways than one: photo of pretty painted poetry on the curving wall along Calle Ferrari, Valpariso.

Valparaiso Graffiti Day 23

Last modified on 2010-07-28 15:22:06 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Ships Set Adrift on the Front Step of a Jewellers Workshop on Calle Ferrari

Ships Set Adrift on the Front Step of a Jewellers Workshop on Calle Ferrari

Port scenes are a recurring theme here in this corner of Calle Ferrari. This scene of ships adrift on the front step was painted/tiled right outside a jewelry workshop’s front door (in the same corner as the Bellavista Hostal) in Valparaiso, Chile.

Valparaiso Graffiti Day 22

Last modified on 2010-07-28 15:21:20 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Lovely blue hues to this port scene beside a heavy wood door on the lower level of the Bellavista Hostal, Valparaiso, Chile

Lovely blue hues to this port scene beside a heavy wood door on the lower level of the Bellavista Hostal, Valparaiso, Chile

I love the deep blues in this port scene. That’s Junior, the dog, down below by the heavy wooden door. He roams the neighborhood looking hopefully around for pets and handouts. The dogs don’t live indoors here. They are always hanging out on the streets.

Valparaiso Graffiti Day 21

Last modified on 2010-07-28 15:14:02 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Mural painted on the second set of steps leading up to the entry of the Bellavista Hostal, in Valparaiso, Chile

Mural painted on the second set of steps leading up to the entry of the Bellavista Hostal, in Valparaiso, Chile

The second set of stairs leading up to the entry of the Bellavista Hostal has a mural painted on each step. This photo shows the side view so you can see the split image effect.

If you look straight on, it looks like one seamless image of a street scene with lego-like people and buildings.

At first glance, you can’t even tell it’s a staircase; it just looks like a slanted art mural between two buildings. You wonder how you’re supposed to get up to the main door on the landing above!

Valparaiso Graffiti Day 20

Last modified on 2010-08-16 20:56:38 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Close up of a painting on the staircase leading to Hostal Bellavista, Valparaiso, Chile

Close up of a painting on the staircase leading to Hostal Bellavista, Valparaiso, Chile

Here’s a close up of the cruise ship painted in the middle of the staircase, where the stairs start to wind around the corner. The ship is painted on two stairs,and the second stair is on an curved angle, but if you stand just right, it looks like one flat image. An optical illusion of sorts. Very cleverly painted.

Valparaiso Graffiti Day 18

Last modified on 2010-07-28 15:12:02 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

vibrant wall mural showing the face of a cat. And more.

vibrant wall mural showing the face of a cat or perhaps tow faces. And more.

What do you see? A cat face? Two cartoon characters facing each other? Something else again? There’s a lot going on in this deceptively simple, rather abstract mural.

Valparaiso Graffiti Day 17

Last modified on 2010-07-20 02:10:06 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Colorful wall mural of an elephant and other abstract animals and patterns.

Colorful wall mural of an elephant and other abstract animals and patterns.

The intensity of the colours of this mural almost hide the animal images nestled inside it, like the charging elephant in the middle.

Valparaiso Graffiti Day 16

Last modified on 2010-07-20 02:03:42 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Wall mural of an eagle and other colorful swirls

Wall mural of an eagle and other colorful swirls

Wall murals like this really liven up otherwise dull streets in Valparaiso, Chile.

Valparaiso Graffiti Day 15

Last modified on 2010-08-16 20:57:24 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Random Image Mural

Random Image Mural

Here’s a glimpse of the whole mural together. If there is a unifying theme to this collage of images, I’m afraid it escapes me.
I like the colours, though.

Valparaiso Graffiti Day 14

Last modified on 2010-07-28 15:07:39 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Creepy

Creepy

Can’t say I’d want this mural on the side of my house!
Someone sure spent a lot of time and effort making this disturbing scene. How odd.

Valparaiso Graffiti Day 13

Last modified on 2010-07-28 15:05:59 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

A Couple of Giants

A Couple of Giants

This part of a larger mural features a couple of giant people. The play on perspective makes this mural seem twice as tall as it really is, and makes you feel quite tiny, when standing beneath it, looking up.

Valparaiso Graffiti Day 12

Last modified on 2010-07-29 13:57:01 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Pope In Protest Beside A Giant Woman Carrying Shopping Bag

Here’s a mix of a few different styles of graffiti. There’s a quick spray job in true graffiti style (the red flower). You see a lot of that around here, as well as the nice murals. Bet some people have been really upset about the pope graffiti image. The giant woman with the shopping bag is similar in style to some other images around Valparaiso, including the next mural I’ll post images about.

Valparaiso Graffiti Day 11

Last modified on 2010-07-20 00:45:35 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Boy Walking Down the Steps

If you look at the bottom, you’ll see a little boy (spray painted in black and white) walking down the street. This whole section of the street has a lot of interesting and often very colorful murals.

Valparaiso Graffiti Day 10

Last modified on 2010-07-20 00:38:55 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Picture of a dinner party scene spray painted on the side of a restaurant on Templeman Street, Valparaiso.

Picture of a dinner party scene spray painted on the side of a restaurant on Templeman Street, Valparaiso.

Photo of a dinner party scene spray painted onto the side of a restaurant on Templeman Street, Cerro Algere, Valparaiso, Chile.

Valparaiso Graffiti Day 9

Last modified on 2010-07-20 00:31:57 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Long Mural of Sea Scenes, Ferrari Street, Valparaiso, Chile

This is what the whole long mural looks like as it winds down a particularly steep portion of the street at the bottom of the hill where Calle Ferarri starts. If you look closely, you’ll recognize the scenes that I posted earlier (Days 5, 6, 7 and 8).

Valparaiso Graffiti Day 8

Last modified on 2010-07-22 15:14:51 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Albatross Bird and Row Boats

The yellow in the row boat and colorful swirls really stand out on this long wall mural. But what you tend to notice most when walking past is the Albatross bird, not the boat.

Valapariso Graffiti Day 7

Last modified on 2010-08-16 20:57:42 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Sail Boat tossed by the sea, sharks swimming nearby

Sail Boat tossed by the sea, sharks swimming nearby

If you look closely, you’ll see an old fashioned sailing ship in (or is it sinking into?) the wild sea, with all sorts of creatures swimming in the water nearby.

Valparaiso Graffiti Day 6

Last modified on 2010-08-16 20:57:51 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Part of a mural I call Storm Tossed located at the bottom of Calle Ferarri, Valparaiso

Part of a mural I call Storm Tossed located at the bottom of Calle Ferarri, Valparaiso

Goddess riding a whale of a fish. This is part of the mural scene (I call it Storm Tossed). She’s pointing her powers towards the struggling fishermen (posted a pic of them yesterday).

Valparaiso Graffiti Day 5

Last modified on 2010-07-20 00:08:55 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Fishermen Struggling

Fishermen Struggling

This is the first of five photos in a mural series I call ‘Storm Tossed’. The picture of the whole street will be on Day 9 of this Graffiti Series.

Valparaiso Graffiti Day 3

Last modified on 2010-08-16 20:58:23 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

This character appears all over Valparaiso

This character appears all over Valparaiso

You can spot this cartoon boy in all sorts of places around Valparaiso – beside doorways like in this photo, around sharp corners of steep staircases, tucked into the smooth cement on the sides of buildings.

Valparaiso Graffiti Day 2

Last modified on 2010-08-16 20:59:40 GMT. 2 comments. Top.

Graffiti on Calle Ecuador - The Finger

Someone put a lot of thought into this one. I like how the scratches extend down the closed front door.

Valparaiso Graffiti Art Day 1

Last modified on 2010-08-16 20:59:17 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

International Characters - and cariacatures - on Calle Ecuador

International Characters - and cariacatures - on Calle Ecuador

This is the first of a month of posts showcasing the fascinating graffiti all around Valparaiso, Chile.

A Walk on the Winding Streets of Valparaíso,Chile

Last modified on 2010-07-06 01:39:08 GMT. 2 comments. Top.

Streets of Valparaiso on a sunny but cold day in June, 2010

Streets of Valparaiso on a sunny but cold day in June, 2010

Click here to launch photo gallery.

A metallic ‘ting ting, ti ting, ti ting, ti ti ti ting’ grows louder as a truck rounds the sharp corner by my ground floor studio suite. Two men in the back of a truck are playing the tops of the gas canisters like set of drums, the universal song of all the gas delivery service trucks in Valparaíso. It temporarily drowns out the laughter and chatter of school children in the school courtyard nearby, and the constant squeal of the buzz saw from the furniture workshop across the street. Time to get up and get outside and start my day.

When I throw open the wooden shutters and open the heavy wooden door, I can see the glint of the steel blue sea from the edge of my balcony/deck, and spot the huge ships docked in the port far below.

I’m only half way up the steepest part of Calle Ferrari, and it still feels like I’m on top of the mountain. Except they don’t call it a mountain, and laugh when you do. It’s simply a ‘cerro’ or foothill. Most people live in the hills, like me, on steep cobblestone streets with crazy blind corners and narrow walkways linking the cerros. Valparaíso is a collection of cerros with distinct ‘barrios ‘ (neighbourhoods). It’s usually easiest to go down, go across and then back up to get between and among the cerros.

People stick to their own neighborhoods and routines here. There are small ‘mom and pop’ stores in every barrio that stocks a few of anything you might need. Or you don’t really need it. It’s not uncommon for people to only know their own barrio and have no clue how to get around the neighboring cerros. Taxi drivers get lost a lot trying to find addresses all the time, and have to stop and ask the locals for directions every few blocks. Some places you can only get to by walking.

There are at least 7 ‘ascensores’ -old fashioned cable cars, like outdoor elevators – on the steepest parts of the cerros. It costs about 300 pesos (75 cents or so) for a one way ride, and a ride on one offer some of the best views of the port. It’s a big scary as the wooden car jolts and starts up the metal ties like a train on a tow rope, but it is really very safe.

I wish there was an ascensor on my street, but there isn’t. It’s only a 6 minute walk straight uphill, but it feels like 20. At least there is a lot to look at along the way, with every building built in a different style and a lot of mural paintings.

My street has more than the usual number of artisan workshops, and on any given day I can walk past new pieces on display. There’s always a piece of heavy wooden furniture, recently stained and drying in a pocket of sunshine, painted canvasses for sale and the ringing and tapping from the jewellers workshop near the bottom of the hill, beside a very tiny, 2 table cafe decorated with murals and clever handicraft pieces.

If walking in the other direction, up the hill, you soon come to La Sebastiana, one of Pablo Neruda’s houses. It’s got a lovely yard with grass and trees (very rare here), and a spectacular view of the port and city core from the top two floors. They have preserved the whole house with all the furniture, art and curios Neruda collected in his lifetime. What a great sense of style, beautifully detailed art and playful creativity he had. The wall mural inside the house along the staircase is a masterpiece of swirling patterns of rocks and shells. It’s an excellent little museum and audio tour.

Art is part of life here, especially on my street, where vibrant graffiti blends into the commissioned murals draping the flat spaces on buildings near the bottom of the hill, and covering the cement street fortifications near the bottom of the hill. There’s also the other kind of graffiti everywhere too – spray painted words and names – not nearly as attractive. I’ll post a gallery showing off the nice graffiti and murals soon.

There’s a nice place to rest on benches in the cozy park at the very bottom of the hill where it levels off. The park is made completely of small tiles, arranged into patterns and figures all along the walkway, lightposts, benches and tiered cement walls . At night the park glitters like a chandelier as cars come around the curve, headlights caught and magnified by all the mirrored tiles embedded everywhere that you don’t even notice are there in the day.

The streets downtown are no less impressive than those winding up into the cerros. The narrow streets are lined with tall buildings, each different from the next, usually with arched, elaborate doorways, heavy wooden doors and trim, and artistically crafted wrought iron coverings over the windows and doorways. Everyday I spot some new detail I hadn’t noticed before, some balcony detail, or an elaborately decorated recessed doorway.

The oldest newspaper in South America, El Mercurio, started here in Valparaíso, and the building is a source of pride for the locals, with its angelic statues, skylight dome, and grandiose presence. The overall impression of Valparaíso is one of faded grandeur, much like Buenos Aires, but in better condition overall.

The attached photo gallery features a lot of pictures taken on St. Peter’s Day in June, a national holiday day here (St. Peter is the saint of fishermen). The streets were deserted as everyone was glued to their TVs hoping Chile would beat Spain (they didn’t). Some walked around waving Chilean Flags in support of their team. The streets were empty of cars and pollution, and it was a nice, sunny day, so it was easy to take pictures that really show the details of the buildings.

I hope you enjoy your virtual walking tour today!

La Defensa Street Antique Market in San Telmo, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Last modified on 2011-07-18 01:52:59 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

San Telmo and the Antique Market on La Defensa Street, Buenos Aires, Argentina

San Telmo and the Antique Market on La Defensa Street, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Click here to launch photo gallery.

“Empanadas, empanadas, empanadas” echoes around the fair from a half dozen different sellers armed with camp coolers filled with meat filled pre-cooked doughy treats. The sweet smell of candy coated, fresh roasted peanuts, and sweet and salty popcorn lingers in the air. Crackling tango music plays on loud speakers stacked by the street corner. Booths with carefully painted signs, on stands with big wheels, topped with curtains like puppet theatres, form a maze of walls around the plaza. On display inside each booth is a rainbow of antique glass bottles, polished jewelry, mate cups and special straws, vintage clothing, collector’s curios, framed paintings, and souvenir trinkets. Upon seeing this market for the second time in a year, I have to admit that this is the classiest street fair I’ve seen in over a year of traveling in South America.

Every Saturday La Defensa street in the San Telmo neighbourhood turns from a quiet, stately street filled with antique boutiques into a bustling open air antique flea market. Despite the low prices and high quality of a lot of the items, the best part for me is always the live street performances.

A couple of older men give a show from the same spot every weekend, one playing guitar and one crooning tunes from the heydays of tango to a steady stream of passersby. A young man strums folktunes on his guitar like liquid lightning. Nearby a man stands beside an old hurdy gurdy, filled with live birds instead of a monkey, cranking out tunes only if you drop a coin in his box.

In the busiest part of the plaza, tango music blares as an older woman in a fancy dress and elegant hair-do and her partner, an older gentleman in a dark suit and hat, dance tango in the middle of the street. They finish a set of gracefully executed moves to thunderous applause. When he motions to me to join him on the ‘dancefloor’ and I panic, shake my head, and quickly duck out of the way.

Further down the street is an ‘invisible man’. He sits on a chair, convincingly real, with no face, just sunglasses and a hat suspended by a wire attached to his collar. When you drop money in his hat, he ‘looks’ at you instantly, and extends his gloved hand for a handshake, and the grip is so real (the hand is body temperature), it’s easy to believe it’s a real hand inside that glove. But it can’t be. I looked around for wires, or a person with a remote control, but saw nothing to give the trick away. Impressive.

The food on display by street food vendors is not nearly as inviting as the food on display on the grills in most restaurant ‘parrillas’ (grill BBQ restaurant). In Argentina they have a flair for presentation and serve excellent food that tastes as good as it looks, using only the best ingredients. As my friend Pablo explained to me, “ you see, it’s because people from Buenos Aires are mostly Italians, who want to be like the English living in the South of France.” Wrap your head around that one!

Dinner with my friend Pablo in a local parrilla was a feast. First was an organic salad of lettuce, tomato and onion with oil and vinegar drizzled on top at the table. Then came the steak, grilled to perfection, served with a choice of salsas (sauces) called chimichurris -one was like a parsley pesto, and another like chunky tomato and onion condiment.

On the other hand, lunch with my friend Lina was a challenge. She ordered a dish that she warned me I might not like. Spanish style stomach stew. What arrived was a never ending bowl of slippery and chewy spongey white bits, in an orangey sauce, that everyone else in the place was wolfing down like it was the best thing they’d ever eaten.

Just when you think you’re used to everything and ready to try anything, something like this comes along to test your endurance and manners. Try as I might, I didn’t enjoy it, stifling a gag reflex with every mouthful. But the charming company and great conversation more than made up for my culinary horror.

After the market, I took a quick tour of the vast ecological park reserve downtown, enjoying the late afternoon light. I headed home and turned in early. I had a very early flight the next morning.

I stayed at Lina’s Tango Guesthouse for the second time in a year. It’s starting to feel like a home away from home there. I recommend it to anyone looking for a decently priced, friendly and comfortable bed and breakfast. Lina serves some of the best croissants I’ve ever had, made by hand in her kitchen, and baked fresh every morning. Staying there is like enjoying a little slice of heaven: you can wake up to the smell of coffee and croissants,and the sound of birdsong in the full grown tree in the courtyard. If you want, you can make your own food in the communal kitchen and dine in style in the airy courtyard at a lovely huge wooden table. It’s easy to meet and mingle with the other guests here, and still have a lot of quiet and privacy. I just love this place.

My weekend in Buenos Aires was over all too soon. I keep toying with the idea of living in Buenos Aires, I like it so much there. Time will tell!

The Elqui Valley of Chile – Sun Soaked Vineyards, and Sun Cooked Food

Last modified on 2010-06-28 18:42:03 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Elqui Valley, Chile

Elqui Valley, Chile

Click here to launch photo gallery (and scroll you mouse over the big picture to see the forward arrow to move through the gallery).

The gravel crunches softly beneath my feet and dust rises as I trod uphill on a wide sunlit road, with growing curiosity about what is just around the corner. Behind me is a long line of souvenir kiosks perched precariously on the edge of this mountain road carved into the side of the Elqui Valley of Chile, which must mean that there is something worth seeing just up ahead.

It’s moments like these that make traveling so addicting, this thrill of discovering something that you hadn’t anticipated. No one said anything about this stop on the tour.

Dam Surprises

With a few more steps , I’m around the bend, and almost blinded by the dazzling sparkle of dark blue water, appearing just below eye level despite being half way up the mountainside. Turns out this road has led to the top of a dam with an immense lake reservoir on the other side.

To think that trickle of water we had just passed beside the road could create such a huge reservoir. The glittering waves dance in the sunshine. So refreshing, like a visual drink in this otherwise parched landscape. Above the water level are cacti, some over 6 feet high, growing for centuries in a desert, now directly above a lake.

The heat of the day and the reflection off the water warm my face instantly and heat up my body right to the bone. I’ve been travelling with a friend I met in Arica, Maria from Germany. This is the first time we’ve been truly warm in days, after dark days of chilling rain along the coast.

The Elqui Valley is famous for its sunny climate, having weather completely different from the nearby coastal city of La Serena. Today it feels like a day the middle of summer, not the end of fall.

After our stop at the top of the dam, we drove further up the valley in a mini bus, looking out over many twisting miles of vineyards. When the road passes over a ridge, you can catch a glimpse down the length of the narrowing valley, and the impression is that the entire valley floor has been covered with a patchwork carpet of green, gold and red rectangles in neat strips and squares, laying flat against dun coloured cliffs, framed by a brilliant blue sky overhead.


Vanishing Smiles

Eager smiles and laughter lit up the faces of harvest workers when our driver pulled over to talk to them. They agreed quickly, with big smiles, when I asked to take their pictures. The smiles disappeared as soon as I raised the camera to my face. I couldn’t get it through to them that I actually wanted smiles, not serious expressions. It got ridiculous, so I gave in and just took pictures of them as they wanted, in different macho poses. Then they quickly broke out into wreaths of smiles again when passing big bunches of red grapes over the fence for us all to try.

Many fields had already been harvested, with all their leaves clipped off. But almost half of the fields still had leaves that had turned from dark green to a pale, almost translucent bronze. Other fields were draped in rich red tones, leaves glowing as if lit from within. The fields where they grow table grapes look like they have flat rooves made completely of leaves, since they prune the branches too grow across, not up and down, to allow the bunches to dangle downwards for easy picking. The wine grapes are grown in straight, upright rows.

This part of the Elqui valley is famous for its micro climates of near perfect growing conditions for many different kinds of grapes, especially those used to make Pisco brandy. I was surprised by how small the grape plants were, more like shrubs than the sweeping trees I expected to see in a vineyard.

I thought the highlight of our tour would be a tour of a pisco distillery, but was disappointed. There wasn’t much to see except big vats and huge wooden casks. In one room a man on top with a big wooden paddle stood on top of an enormous cask, stirring slowly in a room steeped in the stench of years of alcohol brewing. In another room women sat around a table peeling stickers off sheets and sticking them on bottles. In fact this shipment was headed for Canada, with special bilingual labels in French and English. I’ve seen bottles of pisco like this in stores in Edmonton and had no idea they were all labelled by hand.

There were other attractions in the valley too, besides vineyards. Our tour included a short visit to the museum of Gabriella Mistral, a woman famous for her poetry and human rights activism in the 1940’s and Nobel Prize for her work, the only Spanish woman to have received such acclaim to date. The museum was in an old building set up like a classroom with wooden desks with ink wells and dark ink stains from years of use. The place reminded me of pioneer days and the one room schools all across the prairies.

Dry Wine in a Dry Village

We stopped in a ‘pueblo seco’- a ‘dry village’ named so not for the lack of alcohol (the dry white wine we had here with lunch was great), but because it’s considered to be located far from a good source of water. Here the main attraction is food cooked in ovens powered by the sun, not fuel.

As we pulled up to a restaurant for lunch we saw a yard full of flat bottomed boxes with metal side flaps, wheeled around to face the sun, flaps positioned so their metal lining reflected the sunward inward to pots sitting inside the boxes. It looked for all the world like a garden of hippy- style box- shaped sunflowers with silver lined petals. This idea was a government project designed to give local women an alternative way to earn a living in a place with few natural resources, and it has proven very successful. I can see why: the slow cooked goat stew made in these ovens was delicious.

Pisco Elqui: Centre of a Brewing Storm

The highlight of the tour for me turned out to be the town at the farthest end of the valley, a town that had been renamed to ‘Pisco Elqui’ in order to secure the trademark name ‘pisco’ for Chile, effectively stealing the name ‘pisco’ from the Peruvians who also claim this as their national drink. It’s caused a lot of hard feelings.

The town itself is a sunny oasis of peace and calm. It’s a magnet for Chileans for short holidays, with its hot, dry climate, pastel coloured mountains, tranquil vineyards, and close proximity to Santiago. There are a lot of resort hotels with classy distilleries and spas, upscale dining, and touristy artesanal markets. The main square, filled with shady and tall pepper trees (a tall dusty looking tree with tiny red hard berries), a quaint church (of course), and attractive fountains and walkways, proved to be the perfect place to relax for an hour before heading back up the valley to gloomy and overcast La Serena on the coast.

The few hours of sunshine would have to last me until our last day in Valpara´iso, a few days later. Next up: pictures of ‘Valpo’ a remarkable city steeped in art and culture, full of steep, winding, cobblestone streets lined with colourful, ornate and ancient buildings.