Some time ago, I was cycling back home in Amsterdam, and I decided to take a slight detour to pass somewhere else for a change. As I approached the tunnel below the railroad, I saw a lot of unusual activity there. It turns out that the people from the nearby squat Op de Valreep had organized a day to decorate the tunnel mentioned above.
After painting the wall in a light-blue, neutral color, each street-artist got a section of it and began his work. Colors, beer and orange juice the most important tools.
With this post I am beginning a trilogy on Valparaiso. I want to give focus to three very important charachteristics of this unique place. The first one I’ll look at are its walls. Please comment and link other resources on the topic, if you have any! Also, if you guess right what the following topics will be you’ll earn a mention (with link if applicable!) in the next posts!
In one of my first writings about this city, I mentioned its student soul. That is probably the main reason behind the fact that everywhere is color and graffiti art.
You won’t see many messy, improvised patchworks. Most of the walls display well-thought compositions which probably required a lot of work.
How is it going? In Chile, summer is officially starting, being today the 21st of December. It’s a nice sunny day outside. I actually keep seeing pictures of a very white Northern Europe and yes, every single image reminds me of why I left exactly in this period. Feel free to send me hate emails.
Life here in Valpo goes on without any particular disturbance – if we don’t count the two minor earthquakes that occurred since I’m here! The first one scored 4.1 degrees on the Mercalli scale, the other one something less. The best of it all? I didn’t notice either. My housemate is a kind of living seismograph instead, she would feel a half-degree earthquake in Buenos Aires.
After a couple of weeks here, it was time to deepen my knowledge of one of Valpo’s distinctive elements: the water of its bay. So one day we met another couchsurfer and we all went for a harbor tour on a little boat – you can see a similar one in this image, with the yellow chairs.
On the right, you can also see one of the famous cable railway of the town – more about that in another post. The tour on the boat was quite interesting as we cruised next to a lot of ships that where in the harbor, last glimpse of a glorious past. We learned where the ships were built – almost all of them Europeans, there were even a few Dutch-made ones – and what their duties are. One of the most fascinating structures was a big “floating dock”: another boat can enter from one end, then it’s lifted and repaired.
Fortunately, the harbor is not only artificial stuff: the fishing industry seems to provide food for quite a few round, lazy sea lions. Here’s a couple of them stretching in the sun. They make huge splashes when they jump back in the water!
Days are very long now – today is actually the Souther Emishpere’s summer solstice! That let us do a lot of nice walks in the evening: around 7 pm the sun is still in full swing, but it’s not as warm as around lunchtime.
Such an evening walk is ideal to explore one of the many hills, each one with its own personality… and its own staircases.
This is where the deepset beauty of Valparaiso lies. In anonymous corners and streets, in wrecked walls where black cracks become part of the colored graffiti. It feels like the colors are used to visually cover what is otherwise weakened by the time, hit by past earthquakes and never fixed because there is no money for it.
Another night walk along the coast took us to Viña, the town where we had the barbecue I described in the previous post. On the way back the sun was setting and the lights on the hills came to life. Too bad this picture is too small to give the idea, it really was a calm, fantastic view.
Oh, let me close with another colored but more personal matter. I’m completely done with the jet lag now, but the first ten days in the country left me with a lot of night hours to kill. This enabled me to reach peaks of the human intellect that I never touched before. Such as previously unknown levels of completeness of the Rubik’s Cube! Nice eh, dad?