Sunday, November 22, 2009

South America Day 4: Valparaiso, Briefly

An hour's drive later, we arrived at Valparaiso through a landscape that became more and more reminiscent of the African savannah:
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When we got nearer to the coast, though, it shifted to a more tropical style. These

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are the first non-cultivated palm trees we saw in Chile. It's warm enough here for them to just grow.

Valparaiso is a coastal city built on a long strip of land between the last mountain range and the Pacific. Houses are built on steep hillsides - this is sort of a back view, and the land drops sharply on the other side, down to the ocean.

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Our itinerary listed a "Valparaiso city tour" for today, but in practice this meant we got to drive around the center of town in the bus. We had an appointment to keep at the dock, and nobody was willing to miss it! I was glad to get a look at this pretty city, though. It reminded me a lot of San Francisco, both because of the hills

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(well, one big hill, I guess) and also because of the locals' taste for pastel paint jobs:

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The election season is in full swing here,

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but apparently what Valparaisans (?) really like on a Sunday afternoon is a good flea market! As we drove down one long avenue we saw the mother of all flea markets.

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It went on

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and on

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and on! Sadly, there was no time to go peruse any of the goods. Rearing right up out of the middle of the mile-long market was this monument to the (once-major) copper industry ("Biggest dang wire I ever saw, Mabel!"):

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Working our way in the general direction of the water, we came to a large plaza (the Plaza Sotomayor). On one side of the plaza there is a large monument

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to "los Héroes Navales" - the naval heroes of "War of the Pacific" between 1879 and 1883. (Bet you never knew there was a War of the Pacific before the one in 1945 - I sure didn't. Travel helps me remember the USA isn't the whole entire world.) Facing the monument is the Naval Building:

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We were wondering why there appeared to be a pile of shipping containers dumped in front of a building of national importance - this plaza is hardly a loading dock. It turns out that every year they construct a stage made out of shipping containers and put on a two week art festival with plays, movies and music.

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If I understood the online program correctly most of the shows have a 1000-peso entrance fee, which sounds bad until you remember there's about 500 pesos to the dollar.

1 comment:

goldiebug said...

Now that is interesting. I was jumping up in my seat waving my hand going "ooh! Ooh! I know what those shipping containers are for!" but I was totally wrong. (In Berlin Germany, we saw a lot of similar stacked containers at building renovation or construction sites; they have a lot of immigrant construction workers who just live in trailers like these on site while they're doing the work, then after a month or however long it is til the job's done, they go home to their families. But that was not the case here. My bad! :-) I like this use for them too, most creative.