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Published: August 13th 2018
The Couch Surfing ContinuesValparaíso (29/07/2018-31/07/2018)
My new home with Francisco in Valparaíso!
Valparaíso: a gritty, chaotic, graffiti-covered, hill-peppered port city.
Valpo has pretty, colourful houses (clinging to the edge of cliffs), graffiti everywhere you look (I'm not exaggerating), and numerous funiculars for the countless cerros (hills).
There are hills for days.
Once Chile's financial powerhouse; everything went to shit in the 1906 earthquake (ricter scale: 8.3) and the building of the Panama canal in 1914 (now ships don't have to travel all the way down South).
Here you can walk the complex maze of ridiculously steep streets, ride in the ascensors (they also call them lifts.. they are funiculars), marvel at the powerful graffiti, stroke the cute street dogs (1/3 dogs here are strays), and learn about the rise and fall (and now rise) of this gritty, port city.
Graffiti: the art of saying something without using words. Just walk around Valpo and you can see what problems this society is facing. Women are not being paid the same as men for the same job, sexual harrasment on the metro is common, and there are new, harsh, fishing laws. All of this is portayed through graffiti.
Here I had my most interesting city
tour yet. We learnt numerous fun facts:
• 95% of the people here live on hills (there are 42+ hills), adapting their homes to the crazy landscape.
• There are 16 ascensors today: 7 fully working, the rest being repaired (due to fires and earthquakes). These are essential for every day life. The very first one was built in 1883 (the last in 1916). The first is still in use today!
• Valpo is a city where the dead lie above the living. Three cemetories sit up high on the hills. Once outside the city, the city has expanded and now the three cemetorys sit in the centre of the city for all to see.
• The earthquake in 1906 caused the cemeteries to collapse and bodies and rubble was sent down the hill and crushed people in their homes beneath. Hundreds died, and corpses and bones were found in their homes afterwards. Now, people often report ghosts citings. Miguel pointed out that this is only place in the World where the dead have killed the living. Interesting!
• Once a torture centre during the 17 year long dictatorship (education in Chile used to be free until the dictatorship). The
My walk home
I wasn't exaggerating when I said everything is covered in graffiti!
jail is now a free cultural place, for concerts and events.
• Chile's economy is better than it's neighbours, but Miguel reports there are issues. They have had corrupt management and in the last 50-80 years things have been poorly run. Although now the government is far more transparent.
• Valpo's port brings in 10 million USD dolars a day. But centralisation occurs (i.e. the money is sent to Santiago) and then is redistruibuted. But where is the money going?
• Interestingly, Chile is the most privatised country in the world. Everything from education, water, health care (there is a public one but it's terrible), highways (hence the numerous tolls), and even the ocean is privatised! Where is the money going? Miguel thinks that about 5 families own Chile.
• Grafffiti. Yes it is illegal: but it's everywhere. Here, even kids are taught how to graffiti. The most well known Chilean muralist is, Inti Castro. He is now travelling the World.
• In Valpo, you can see anything from gigantic, beautiful murals to scruffy tagging. Okay, so tagging isn't pretty, imaginative, or creative. But their is belief here that graffiti is a process. And tagging is just stage 1, the very beginning
of the process before huge pieces can be made.
• Artists use cranes, scaffolding, and drones to help them in their work. Some drawing freehand, some using grids.
• Valpo has many liar houses. What are they you ask? They are houses where you can only see 1 floor from the street, but have many floors down the hill.
• In the pacific war won by Chile in 1875, Chile took away Bolivia's only connection to the sea (they provided with a port they can use for free). But still, this left a rocky relationship between the two countries.
• If you are heading here, be sure to check out Delicias Express and their countless empanada flavours. I sampled the chicken, cream, spinach and walnut flavour.. absolutely delicious!
• Last word - be careful at night here - it was the unsafest i've felt in Chile. My friend and I accidentally wandered into the dodgy part of city one day and were approached by a policeman. As he put it, "you are fish surrounded by sharks here". We left immediately. Yikes! Santiago (23/07/2018-29/07/2018)
Santiago, the capital of Chile: glittering sky scrapers set in a valley surrounded by
huge snow-capped mountains that are the Andes.
Santiago is a pretty, modern city with European influence. Things you can do here:
• Cerro Santa Lucia is a delightful hill-park in the centre of Santiago. Go climb it for good city views!
• Ride the cable car to the top of the San Cristobal Hill.
• Have a drink in one of the cool cafes in the Bellavista (hipster) area.
• Visit the Museum of Memory and Human Rights and learn about the country’s 17 year long dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet (a pivotal event in Chile's otherwise relatively peaceful history).
• Do the City Tour (it's super interesting!).
• Eat a pastel de choclo, Chile's national dish!
• If you want to climb Cerro Manquehue; don't do what me and my friend did and leave in the afternoon. It is FAR away. After the metro, then the bus (2 hours!), we realised we wouldn't make it so we had a cake and turned back to the city. So much for getting exercise.
Tot: 0.078s; Tpl: 0.021s; cc: 13; qc: 49; dbt: 0.0181s; 1; m:saturn w:www (126.96.36.199); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.4mb