Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Valparaiso, 1

Valparaiso is a 70 mile bus ride north of Santiago. It is Chile's 2nd largest metropolitan area, an historic port of the 19th century (called "Little San Francisco" back then), and the site of many of South America's "firsts" (brewery, volunteer fire department, Protestant church, daily newspaper). What attracted us was its description as a fun and funky sort of place, a place that more or less died after the opening of the Panama Canal, but which has reinvented itself as, among other things, a laid-back artsy and intellectual sort of place. The World Heritage designation of its Concepcion and Allegre neighborhoods also attracted us, as always. After the previous two weeks' intensities, all this sounded good. Plus it is on the Chilean coast, home to the finest fisheries in the world.

I am not sure what it is that officially distinguishes the Concepcion and Allegre neighborhoods from all the others--their historic nature?--but what people come to see now is a whole town of murals, contemporary murals. covering much of a hillside. (Valparaiso consists of 45 hills, plus the flat land of the port). Tagging is a problem in Chile; Santiago is the most tagged city we have yet seen, which is saying something. In Valparaiso, however, the taggers appear to "respect" the work of other "artists", i.e., the muralists. So, if you don't want the facade of your house or business tagged, have someone do a mural on it. You can confer on the subject matter. Sometimes the labor is free. So we were told. In any case, if there is an art form of Latin America, it is the mural. However it has come about, Valparaiso and Allegre live up to the fun and funky description. And, as elsewhere, we enjoyed two days of unusually clear and crisp weather. Oh, and I took 339 pix in Valparaiso, brutally edited below, but probably not enough. This time there will be no quiz.
The atrium of our B& B La Nona ("the grandmother," who with
her husband founded and ran the B&B for many years; now with
her son Rene and his wife and twin 3 year old daughters); great
place, best breakfast yet, warmly recommended indeed; great advice
on seeing the city

La Nona (blue, with flag)

I won't attempt to narrate all the scores of murals...

Someone's pretty garden in Allegre; "nevermore" quoth the

Chileans don't like this--who would?--but the privately owned
power companies apparently have little interest in addressing
the safety and other issues

We had dinner here one night; view of the bay and harbor

A smidgeon of the larger city

School of Maurice Sendak

Way more flavors than Howard Johnson's

Plaza Sotomayor, down by the port

Strangely, ports fascinate me...

Within certain limits

Armada of Chile administrative offices

We did a Tours 4 Tips tour of Allegre--one of the best ever for
us--that involved both a bus ride and, thankfully, a funicular
(here called "ascensors); the tour guide, Javier, was world-class;
and in English, too

Site of South America's first brewery; pisco sours came much

Riding the funicular

To more murals!


First openly Protestant church in South America;
Lutheran; that's what you get with port cities,
travel, immigration, exchange of ideas...freedom

Always look back at the staircase you have
descended, Javier said

In support of public education...God help us!

1 comment:

Rebecca said...

These murals are wonderful!