Sunday, January 15, 2006

Valparaiso


A Valparaiso Bed and Breakfast


Tried to get up at 9:30, but it was 10:30 when I finally joined the living.

Today, Max offered to chauffeur me around to various sights in his area. He came by the hotel to collect me at 11:30. His parents were with him; he was taking them to his cousin’s funeral in Valparaiso, a fifteen-minute drive from Viña del Mar. Max declined to go, as he had not seen this cousin in twenty years. The service was at a Lutheran church on one of Valparaiso's fourteen hills.

Another election day in Chile. There is a run-off between the December elections' two Presidential front-runners: Michelle Bachelet (the first woman presidential candidate) and Sebastian Piñero. Max says Bachelet was a "terrorist" in her youth, a member of the Left. Some say Piñero, a wealthy businessman, will bring a fresh entrepreneurial energy to the Presidency. Max voted this morning and held up his ink-smudged thumb to prove it. He is optimistic that, even though he was lagging in the polls, Piñero will win.

Restaurants that serve alcohol were required to close from midnight (last night) until one hour past the close of polling stations tonight (9:00 p.m.) We ran into some Americans from Connecticut who were searching for an open restaurant. Max is a kind soul: he offered to give them a ride, since finding a restaurant wasn't an easy task today.

Many homes in Valparaiso have (painted) corrugated steel siding. Max says it's similar to Punta Arenas (Sandy Point) in the far south.

Talking about last night's visit to Jack and Suzanne's, Max said Jack's father, Sir John Dill, is the only foreigner buried in Arlington National Cemetery. (I later visited the Cemetery's website and learned there are other foreigners buried there, but the memorial to "Sir John" is one of the highlights, and one of only two equestrian statues in the cemetery.) Among his many roles, he was the senior British liaison with Washington during the latter part of World War II.

Suzanne's family owns the “Lider Mercado” grocery chain. We ran into a couple on the beach at Zapallar yesterday. The man was Suzanne's brother, who developed the chain into one of Chile's top two grocery chains.

We stopped to look at "Ascensor el Peral" ("The Pears" elevator). The ascensors are Valparaiso landmarks (like San Francisco's cable cars), used to transport residents between Valparaiso's fourteen hills and the city center below. Like San Francisco, Valparaiso also has an electric bus system.



Ascensors, or elevators, carry passengers between Valparaiso's fourteen hills and the city below. There are so many similarities between San Francisco and Valparaiso, probably because the two were primary ports-of-call for West Coast shipping (before the Panama Canal deprived Valparaiso of much of its around-Cape-Horn shipping.)


And in 1906, both cities suffered devastating earthquakes. Max said the earthquake in Valparaiso gave birth to Viña del Mar, where many people chose to rebuild their lives.



The port of Valparaiso, Chile


We drove out along "Avenida Alemania", reminiscent of San Francisco's Skyline Drive. Because of the election, the city was so quiet today. At schools, which are primary polling sites, police and military directed traffic. We tried to visit one of poet Pablo Neruda's houses, but it was closed today.

Taking photos today, I discovered my camera's viewfinder and image processor are somehow out of synch. I thought it was me, but now have confirmed that when I align a picture in the viewfinder, the photograph that results is skewed several degrees. I have no idea what causes it, but have to compensate by purposely skewing the photo.

Late in the afternoon, we were growing hungry, but other than McDonald's-type fast food chains, there were few dining options (since most restaurants serve alcohol.)

We returned to Viña del Mar, and were surprised to find "Diego Pizza" open for business (and very crowded!) At a sidewalk table, we squeezed under the shade of a small palm tree. Shared pizza again. Very good!



A typical Latin American internet cafe (with Max checking his e-mail.) I took this from a phone booth along the opposite wall. The room must be eight feet wide, maximum.


Max has invited me to visit "Luminojos", his seaside house south of Curanipe. He said he has two German ladies coming to stay as guests. (They connected through the Hospitality Club website, where travelers can find rooms available around the world, or offer accommodations to others in need.) Jeremy and Benjamin are also planning to come down.

Before leaving "Diego Pizza", he insisted I sample a popular treat: an alfehor, a candy from Argentina: a cookie "sandwich", filled with dulce de leche (similar to caramel) and coated with chocolate. Max had some business to attend to, so I bid him farewell, having monopolized far too much of his time!

"Desperate" to find an internet connection for my computer, I wandered the neighborhoods looking for a site compatible with my laptop. Strangely, "Cuernavaca", a Mexican restaurant, offers free wi-fi service. Of course, I had to try the margaritas. Which turned out to be a bit counter-productive. Some kids came over, fascinated by the laptop. So I really didn't get much "work" done.

Walking back to the hotel later, I was "forced" to sample the local ice cream, which was presented much like Italian gelato, an array of flavors heaped in individual stainless steel trays.

At the hotel, worked on notes until 2:00 a.m. Chile is the first country where I've actually needed an electrical adapter for the computer. They use a two-pin plug here.

From the celebration in the streets below, it is apparent that Michelle Bachelet will win the election.

6 comments:

Dicky Neely said...

More great pics!
I am so glad I can "tag a long!"
Buena fortuna!
Att he moment I am listening to Jethro Tull, Aqualung!

Evan said...

Dude, after all this time, I gotta ask, "What are your camera specs?" Amazing! The composition and timing are all yours, but don't tell me you're shooting with a $49 1.5 pixel cheapo from WalMart!!!

timtraveler said...

It's a Kodak "Instamatic".


Not really. I have a Canon 20D SLR Digital. It's over 8 megapixel.

I have to shoot at medium, or lower, resolution, otherwise the photo files would be huge!


And DICKY!!! You know there's NEW music out there!

Dicky Neely said...

Really? Hmm...I don't listen to the radio anymore cuz I can't stand all the screaming DJ's and commercials so I guess I have to admit I live in the past concerning music!
I like Bonnie Raitt, The Eagles, Keb Mo...does that count?

timtraveler said...

Well, I guess there's nothing like a veteran who keeps cranking out good music and performances.

Anonymous said...

3 comments - regarding ascensor photo (relocated here due to post consolidation):

Dicky Neely said...

So what's the scuttlebutt on the new lady Prez? Sounds like a positive move from here.


babycondor said...

What I'm wondering is where did you stand to take this picture? It gives me vertigo just looking at it!


timtraveler said...

I wish I had a better story, but there's a building at the top, from which you can view the cars.