Wednesday, June 9, 2010 final weeks in SA

Valparaiso–my favorite City in Chile
Sitting here in the Santiago Airport waiting for my long flight north, I have some time to reflect on my Chilean experiences especially the last three weeks 'hanging out' in and around Valparaiso. One of the reasons for going to Valpo, as it is so lovingly referred to by the locals, was to be with my daughter Sophie on her twenty-first birthday.

I think Sophie was happy to see me and have me with her for the big two-one B-day, although in Chile it's not really that big of deal 'cause you can go into clubs at 18 years. Here she is, my precious daughter of 21 years holding flowers from her Papa. We celebrated the occasion with Mexican food. Her home stay sister Paulina is on the right. This was my first time meeting the nice family where she is staying while attending Universidad Catolica. They live in the city of Vina del Mar which is a few miles north from Valpo. With the help
of a friend from the hostal, I was able to write and deliver a simple speech in Spanish
for the occasion.

Cool buildings huh!..just like SF

Before arriving I had heard much and read about this crazy city nestled on the cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean and knew that it had a reputation for steep hills, crooked streets, unique houses, progressive bookstores, great cafes and abundant art, both in galleries and on the street. I was not disappointed as it had all of that and more....
The plaza early in the morning before the streets awaken.
My favorite cafe' was in the green building on the left.

Valpo has the largest shipping port on the west coast of South American. Many Chilean goods and items from other countries come and go from this busy port. Like most cities with large sea ports, Valparaiso has a long and colorful history.

This mural painting of Salvador Allende adorns a wall near the Socialist Bookstore pictured on the left.

I thought that any town with a unique street name like “Bazar La Pasion” was my kind of place!

The cable cars shown above are known as Ascensors and there are many all over the town.
The gravity and weight of the car going down help pull the other car up the steep hill.
Like our cable cars these are part of Valparaiso's legendary history.

A picture of Soph in the Ascensor car waiting to go up the hill...they're fun to ride, great views of the bay!

The people I met in Valparaiso

Up till this point in my journey, I have traveled and stayed in the jungles of Ecuador, the Andes Mountains of Peru, the high mountain desert of Western Argentina and the Lake/Patagonia region of Southern Chile. All incredibly beautiful places that have helped to deepen my appreciation for large stretches of natural terrain that are unspoiled by what some call progress and/or development. Now being in a City, I wanted to settle and focus on getting to better know the Chilean people. Below are a few of the friendly, hospitable Chilean's that I met and became acquainted with.

This is the family that Sophie is staying with. We shared a toast for prosperity and a delicious Chilean cuisine meal together. From L to R is: Catalina, Paulina, Marisol, Sophie and me.

These are my kind and generous Chilean friends Yvonne and Valydia with their son Samuel. The husband and wife team recently went into business as the owners/managers of Hostal Acuarela where I stayed. Here we are in ReƱaca Beach, where they took me to their all-time favorite eating establishment for the best empanadas in all of Chile.

A proud Papa with son–Yvonne and Samuel.
Yvonne makes great homemade bread and serves it for breakfast in the hostal.

This is my friend, Sebastian who invited me to an associated students rock party in Jardin Botanica. He is a dedicated reggae musician with an encyclopedia of knowledge when it comes to jazz and Latin music. He is a strict vegetarian and limits his vices to tea, mate' and ghanga. He plays keyboards in the group MATAFARI and his favorite musician is Thelonius Monk. The group originated in the far south of Chile in a little town called Punta Arenas....which amazes me because that is near the bottom of the planet. My only conclusion is that it speaks to the universality of music as I love their blend of reggae and jazz. If you want to listen here is a link:

Ayinn, helped me with my Spanish and to write/word the speach for Soph's B-day.

This is me in front of Hostal Acuarela in the neighborhood known as Cerro Allegre. My joker friend to the right is Frank from New Guinea and he has been riding this BMW 650 Dakar motorcycle around the world since 2002. At this point in his journey he has just finished the North,Central and South American portion of his journey traveling from New York City to Valparaiso before shipping his bike off to Australia and heading home.

Below is the beautiful spiral staircase in Hostal Acuarela.

Public everywhere

This is La Sebastiana, Pablo Neruda's Valparaiso House and his desk sat on the upper floor overlooking the harbor. Living in places like this it is no wonder that he could write such insightful poetry.

Just a picture of one of the many churches in Valpo

Could not resist the old cars photos....just love these 50's beasts...

A gargantuan tree in the plaza and my favorite birds eye view restaurant overlooking the plaza

Bicentennial 2010
Ten tall ships belonging to navies from Latinamerica, Spain and Portugal were docked in the bay as part of the event “South American Sails 2010” which took off January 31 from Rio de Janeiro and ends at the end of June in the Mexican port of Veracruz. The event is jointly organized by the Argentine and Chilean navies in celebration of the 200th anniversary of the birth of Argentina and Chile to the world scenario following the dismembering of the Spanish colonial empire. Families and ordinary people are given access to the ship decks and encouraged to explore up close and interact with the sailors....a unique experience!




In addition to Chile, frigate ships from Colombia, Argentina, Ecuador, Brazil, Venezuela, Uruguay, Mexico, Spain and Portugal participated in the regatta.

The mastheads on these ships are gorgeous finely detailed carvings that symbolize patriotism for their respective countries. Soph and I especially liked the flags and music on the Mexican ship.

My last day in Chile...I think the photographer is trying to give me a palm afro...

After fifteen weeks in South America I saw many people from Europe, Canada Japan and other countries but given our proximity and living standards I was surprised to not see more travelers from the United States. The continent is a wonderful place that is very hospitable towards tourists. If you have any desire to visit this part of the world I certainly encourage you to do so. The journey has been a wonderful eye-opening experience for me.

Thank You for your interest in my stories and the say in Chile...Chao