Home > Chile > Valporaiso – grubby colour

Valporaiso – grubby colour

October 31, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

The next morning is a whole new day and we take a bus out to the Pacific Coast to Valporaiso. Built up as the cultural centre of Chile, Valpo is certainly interesting. A rare remnant of colonial wrinkly tin houses covered in ethnic graffiti. Generally dirty and dog bound it has the grubby yet intriguing  feel of mature dreadlocks.



as well as the views, the vegetables are a revelation after Argentina. Some of the signage was not that helpful

The place is having a bit of a revival after years of decline following the opening of the Panama Canal ( this used to be the main stopping point for ships rounding the Cape), and there is a sense of something bubbling under, people are generally smart, there is a good choice of food in the supermarkets, the cars are new – but the houses are crumbling, roads are dirty, scruffy flea ridden dogs follow you in packs everywhere and relaxing is not on the agenda.

streets were a little worse for wear, but you get the idea from the houses

bottle top murals

The hills, or cerro’s, line the coast dotted with late 19th century British funicular lifts, terraces with names like Calle Atkinson follow the contours like padi fields; the walk around the tops being an assault course of dog avoidance, rutted pavements and steep steps. The atmosphere is strangely quiet for the main bank holiday weekend of the year – we presumed that most people were probably working off the previous nights festivities. Later in the hostal we got chatting to a few Chileans from Conception, they were getting ready to go out for a party at about midnight and the returned at about 5.30am. Apparently it came from the curfews from the dictatorship government when everyone had to be indoors from 10pm to 6am: that became the party time.

pelican spotting in Vina del Mar

cute little harbour - right next to the massive tankers

We also used Valpo as a base to travel to Vina del Mar, the resort capital of Chile. Cleaner and more modern, but without some of the soul, one day is plenty in Vina. We headed to the beach to join the masses, rolled up out trousers and ran to the sea – and with yelp ran out again. The water is freezing!  Along this coast the Humbolt current brings water straight from the Antarctic, the type of water that makes your feet ache. Another by-product of the Humbolt current is the Humbolt fog. As the water is so cold, and the air relatively warm, most days have a low hanging sea fog. If the wind does come in from the sea, it is bitterly cold. Well, a beach with freezing water, fog and cold air has few remaining attractions, so we spent the rest of the afternoon watching the pelicans and digging holes in the sand.

a bit of a dance off in Vina

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