Corrugated City

Monday, 22 October 2007


Today the builders woke me up (along with the entire neighbourhood) at 8am by deciding it was a good time to start cutting iron bars. When i went up to check what was going on, it looked like they had a lot of cutting left to do...and that metal cutting screeching noise is pretty much the only construction noise i simply cannot deal with. So i jumped in the car, called a friend and headed up the coast for lunch in Zapallar.

So here's where we had lunch...reineta with ensalada chilena (that's tomato and onion with a bit of parsley chucked on top) with some of the best chips i've had in ages. Reasonably expensive by Chilean standards but worth it (us$20 a head)

Next to the restaurant lives a flock of hungry pelicans who know that if they hang around long enough, someone will throw them something to eat

Spring appears to be far more advanced in Zapallar than anywhere else i've been recently...maybe the sea and hills make for a microclima

A local school decided to have a PE lesson on the beach. If you look carefully inbetween the two boys, you'll spot a spear like object. Under the watchful gaze of the teacher (not in the photo), the two boys were launching a metal-tipped javelin at each other. Possibly to impress the girl on the right hand side. If either of them died this afternoon, i can only say that he earned it.

There was also a JCB on the beach, digging out the canal that runs through the beach. It obviously hasn't rained enough to keep it open there was a build up of....

...this. Raw sewage. Flushed straight through the beach and into the sea at Chile's most expensive and beautiful sea-side town. Quite unbelievable.

But not as unbelievable as this truly disgusting condominio, just 1 minute outside of Zapallar and overlooking the town. I've seen some horrible planning mistakes but this is by far the worst. I simply cannot understand how, in a town inhabited only by the super-rich, this sprawling mess of Butlinsalike cheapo huts got through planning permission. I'd be surprised to see it anywhere in Chile but the fact that it's in Zapallar, a small town with a very distinct architectural style and heritage makes it worse. This place is a huge mistake and will be regretted for years to come. The photo doesn't do justice to the hideousness of the complex. Vomit inducing.


Dan said...

Wait. I don't understand. How do you feel about this last building, then? Honestly, it gets tiring all this having to read between the lines!

Matt said...

damn, i was pretty sure i'd made my feelings clear. i have been told that i'm sometimes too subtle and delicate. maybe i should say what i really mean?

the thing is, the photo shows about, maybe, 30% tops of the complex. there are dozens of these monstrosities built into the hills. some of them are painted bright blue or yellow. not nice.

Anonymous said...

Don't lay the blame solely on the planner, what about the bloody arquitecto who designed it?!?! And the cuico who thought this would look really special? And the adjoining land owners that didn't object to this monstrosity at the Council(probably because they are going to build one similar)? As a town planner myself, I can assure you that planners are often easy targets for all of the woes of the urban environment - even in Chile it seems - we try our best with no appreciation from anybody (sniff! sniff!).


Matt said...

hmmm...a town-planner apologist...that's a new one...but yes, you're right- i should really have directed some of the bile at the architect. if i ever find out who did it, i will make it my mission to see him ruined (assuming that he hasn't already ruined his career by designing that mess, of course).

i think the fact that no one complained enough to get the thing kicked out of the planning process is a pretty damning indictment of chileans' general lack of social involvement. people here seem not at all interested in mobilising themselves for a cause. i don't doubt that there are, shall we say, recent cultural reasons )go read c.hileno for that kind of debate!) for this but it's frustrating sometimes seeing how little people care about 'getting involved'.

actually, here in cerro concepcion and alegre valpo the local citizens' groups are quite mobilised and pretty powerful (lots of infighting and bickering though) but i think it's the exception to the rule...

Anonymous said...

Yes. I'm a long time reader of c.hileno - however I would not dare post an entry in his blog lest I get my chileno head bitten off! As much as it hurts, he makes a lot of valid points about Chilean society in general and have developed a healthier philosophical perspective about all these gringo bloggers 'dissing' my pais natal. The way I see it now is that it actually pleases me to read c.hileno's entries because it means someone other than a chileno cares about what is happening there - coz the rest of the world sure as hell doesn't care!

The lack of concern that chilenos express, I think, is a reflection of the 'values' instilled by the dictatorship - mind your own business, don't question anything, worry only about your own family's welfare and nothing will happen to you. Effectively, this was the advice given to my father by a milico who interrogated him during a round up of workers at ENAMI just after the golpe. (He was not tortured or beaten up by the way - they were just looking for sindicalistas)

It's amazing how difficult it is to shake off these 'values' even after 17 years of democracy. Now it seems people's fear of being made desaparecido has been replaced with fear of being fired and ending up on the scrap heap....'just concern yourself with work and putting food on the table'. This is the reason why few would concern themselves about the raw sewerage being pumped into the ocean, about the chopping down of alerce forests, the polluting salmon farmms, the hydro plants being built or a hideous house being built next to them!

I'm probably speaking out of my arse here and respect that you live there and I don't - but that's how I have reasoned it based on my casual and distant observations. That is one aspect of Chilean society that concerns me inmensly.

Matt said...

no i don't think you're speaking out of your arse at all...i pretty much agree with all that you say. i also agree with most of c.hileno's views, he hits the nail slap bang on the head a lot of the time (and sometimes the hammer he's using takes out some innocent bystanders as well..). personally, i like to balance the bad things with the good things...and in chile there are a lot of good things...including the people (sometimes...and not usually santiaguinos).

Chile can be frustrating sometimes but i really believe the country is worth these frustrations and, that overall, this is beautiful place that makes for a great home. Of course, my girlfriend is holding a knife to my throat to make me say all this...but i do believe it as well.

Anonymous said...

I think that c.hileno is really sending a wake up call to those expat chilenos living in Europe, the US or Australia who tend to see la madre patria through rose coloured glasses (believe me, its easy to do!) and are unable to accept a harsh dose of reality. Don't get me wrong, I love Chile too but I am a realist (but always an optimist!). I understand that the reality of contemporary Chile is vastly different to the rhetorical bullshit that western economists, Chilean politicians and Chile's social elite try to dish out. No doubt, significant progress has been made within the country in terms of infrastructure and in developing a more dynamic economy. Much, MUCH more needs to be done, however, to address social/economic inequality, Chile's cultural cringe, the appauling treatment of indigenous people and imigrantes (particularly those from Peru and Bolivia), environmental degradation, the people's general malaise, the lack of decent tea and coffee and La Roja's performance at the world cup qualifiers (I don't ask for much)...For any change to occur, however, Chile needs to want to change.

Its a pity c.hileno wasn't born and bred in Chile coz he could potentially extend his scathing comentary further afield rather than to a few expat Yanks and chilenos living abroad. I don't mean to sound like only native chilenos have the right to criticise Chile. It's more that I think his commentary would then be more effective, attracting more constructive responses from chilenos rather than simply dismissed with the often repeated cry of "well, if you don't like it here, go back home". I really hate that attitude because it brings back memories of my early years as a migrant here in Australia...except we only got the 'go back home' version! Its really funny because contrary to many blogs written by gringos, chilenos (when they are amongst each other) do bitch about Chile's woes a lot (with some level of disagreement, mind) and mostly about the same things that the expat gringo writes about! maybe the chilean blogsphere needs a born and bred chileno living in Chile to stand up and be counted (are there any??) - or c.hileno could simply do a Spanish edition of his blog and unleash the beast on my unsuspecting compatriotas!

But enough of that, so how long have you been living in Chile for? What brought you there and why Valpo?

I have a cousin who is a real estate agent in Vina I think and much to my dismay. After arquitectos, they are the mortal enemy of a town planner here in Australia owing to the porkies they tell unsuspecting purchasers ie. purchaser: 'what's a Land Subject to Inundation Zone mean?' estate agent: 'never mind that, that's just planning mumbo jumbo - you'll be able to build your house no worries! just sign on the dotted line...' ;)

Matt said...

Estate agents are invariably useless. We found some good ones selling rural property around Santa Cruz but residential agents are astonishingly awful...

As for the things you want to improve in Chile...well i can only help you out with the tea one...

And how did i end up in Valpo? That's a good question...maybe i'll answer it in a proper post sometime.

Anonymous said...

Don't know too much about my cousin's dodgy real estate dealings over there to comment...I'll take your word for it! Thanks for the tips on tea. I can kind of understand why tea would be so awful over there given the distance and lack of cultural interchange between Chile and the Asian subcontinent. The appauling state of coffee, however, is inexcusable given Chile's proximity to coffee producing countries such as Brazil, Colombia and Costa Rica - it is really bad! What I do like about Chile is their herbal teas such as matico, bailahuen and manzanilla which are quite good. I don't have a cast iron stomache like most chilenos and I can get quite sick on boiled rice alone, so these hierbitas are my saving grace when I'm over there - can you get green or jasmine tea over there?