Corrugated City

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Valparaiso, In The Top 10.

The Times just has a little article about the top ten cities to visit in 2010 and Valpo made the list.

On the other hand, Nottingham (yes, Nottingham) is on the list so I'm not sure how much to trust the journalist. Nottingham is not a very nice city. It's the gun crime and murder capital of England. Also (surely not coincidentally) the city in which the most amount of gold chains are sold in England.

Still, it's all good publicity for Valpo.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Caleta Quintay: Update

Fantastic news..!

  • The deadline for the project approval has been extended until mid-January
  • Without going into details that I've been asked not to mention, it would seem there's a genuine will on the side of MOP to reassess the project. Let's hope that they take into consideration everyone's points of view.
  • A well-known architect from Tunquen, Pedro Salas, has become involved in the little tussle- I hope that any project he is involved in is as considerate to the environment as some of his houses are (I've seen a couple in Tunquen- he's a really good architect).
My, personal, opinion of what should happen to Caleta Quintay is:

  • Ban public parking from the start of the single track road leading down to the caleta and have a single bus that goes up and down at 5 to 10 minute intervals at certain busy times. People can either take the bus or walk down.
  • Extend the pathway that leads to the ex-whaling station by a couple of metres out into the sea and make it nice. The coastal path that leads from the beach in Zapallar would be a good model.
  • Convert the ex-whaling station into a proper museum, based on the numerous examples from around the world (I drove 6 hours to go to the one in Albany in Australia).
  • Also use the ex-whaling station as the dock for the fishermen.
  • Whales will continue to return to Quintay over the coming years. In 10-15 years, they will be a regular sight. Educate the local fishermen about whale-watching tourism and make them understand that they'll be able to make far more money doing that than fishing in the medium term. Seriously- whales will be under two hours from Santiago and the airport. 30 minutes from Vina and Valpo. You usually have to travel hours and hours from major cities to see whales in South America. This could be huge business.
Anyway, that's my take on what should be done. I'm sure that not everyone agrees but I hope that the opinions of people who, like me, are not directly affected will be taken on board. A place like Caleta Quintay should be there for the enjoyment of everyone who lives in or visits this country.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

How To Destroy Something Beautiful, Chilean Style: Caleta Quintay


A few weeks ago, I went with a friend to Quintay as he was interested in purchasing one of the restaurants down by the caleta (fishermans' wharf/dock).

Caleta Quintay is beautiful. The drive from the Ruta 68 is beautiful, winding through forests before a series of sharp curves take you down into the town of Quintay. A single lane track leads down to a little cove with a beach and several decent seafood restaurants. On the walk down the lane, it's like a small little fishing village in Cornwall, only with better weather. It's really very pretty.

A couple of hundred metres along from the Caleta is the ex-whaling station. Whaling stopped in the 1960s and last year a mother and her calf were spotted for the first time since then. Whales are returning to Quintay after almost 50 years.

The whaling station is now open to the public as a museum. Granted, it's a pretty poor museum; the exhibits look like a 12 year old's school project but the potential to do something great is clearly there.

Unfortunately, the Ministerio de Obras Publicas and the local fisherman have other ideas. They plan to cement 30 metres out into the Ocean, covering the rocks, destroying the local eco-system, disrupting the nesting habits of Quintay's pelican population and completely destroying everything that is lovely about Caleta Quintay.

The supposed plan is for a new dock for the fisherman. It's pretty obvious to everyone that the dock will simply be used for parking. There is no need whatsoever for a new dock. The ex-whaling station that is already there would be ideal for the fishermen.

The budget for the project is about us$36 million. Seriously. Can you imagine what they could do with the Caleta and the whaling station with us$36 million if they wanted to design something good, something devoted to tourism, to whale-watching. The fishermen are clearly crazy- more tourists mean more restaurants which would mean more business for them.

This project will do nothing but drive tourists away from the Caleta. A huge opportunity to undertake a truly worthwhile project is about to missed.

Why not use the money to convert the whaling station into a wharf and a proper museum (as has happened very successfully in countless former whaling towns worldwide)? The beach area and coastal path could be renovated and cleaned up. Instead of allowing people to park at the beach (which creates serious traffic issues along the single track road leading down), why not have a bus system that runs from the top to the bottom (with parking only allowed from where the bus leaves)?

It is so frustrating to see Chile make the same stupid mistakes we made in Europe in the 60s and 70s that lead to so much destruction . Why can't this country learn from those mistakes?

I simply cannot understand how anyone could think this project is a good idea.

So you can see the scale of the destruction about to be wreaked on Caleta Quintay, the plans are below. If you are interested in knowing more, contact Mario F. Illanes, head of Comité, Salvemos la Caleta de Quintay via email: rightdir(at)vtr.net

The group needs urgent legal assistance, time is running out to either stop of modify the project. If you can help, please do.




Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Zapallar in 1992

I seem to be posting more on this blog since I left Valpo than before...and I'm neglecting Colchaguino.

Anyway, I came across this article about Zapallar in the New York Times from all the way back in 1992. With the exception of the prices, it's still extremely accurate and interesting to read that almost 20 years ago Vina del Mar, Concon and Renaca had "become so overbuilt, with so many high-rise condominimums, that they resemble Miami Beach and Fort Lauderdale in atmosphere. Simply driving up the coast in summer in those areas involves traffic jams and delays. Moreover, officials are worried about water pollution and inadequate sewage facilities for the large number of people."

The article also talks about a 'Presidential aspirant' Sebastian Pineras (sic)...

If you're looking for real estate in Zapallar, please feel free to contact me via: Chile Investments

Monday, 16 November 2009

Calle Condell Before and After The 1906 Earthquake

These pictures give a pretty good idea as to the level of destruction wrought by the 1906 earthquake in Valparaiso.

Before- around 1870-1880. Look how pretty and peaceful it looks; no micros.


After- 1906


The church tower you can see belonged to the Iglesia Espiritu Santo in Plaza Victoria. It survived the 1906 earthquake but not the mentally deficient town planners who decided to knock it down in the 1970s in order to build an apartment block so monumentally foul, one might conclude that the architect was a blind toddler who drew up the plans with a pencil between his toes.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

The First Expats

Valparaiso is a city built by immigrants from all over the world, the original expats in Chile. The fire departments are testament to this, as are the cemeteries and also these adverts in a magazine from the 1920s.

The Bar Ingles is still around in the same place. It's a beautiful little traditional wood bar, shame its lunches are so unbelievably expensive and bad.


Baburizza- the man who built the palace of the same name on Cerro Alegre which the council has still not got around to reopening as the Museo de Bellas Artes 10 years after they closed it for renovations. Shameful.

Casa Francesa- locales in Paris, Lyon, Marseille, Buenos Aires, Santiago and Valpo...


Saturday, 7 November 2009

Fruit

Fellow ex-Buenos Aires resident Dan has just wrapped up another season of fruit farm and farmers' market blogging from Chicago. If you love fruit, fruit based recipes and laughing at the stupidity of people who shop at farmers' markets then I'd highly recommend heading over to Fruit Slinger.
And I will hopefully get around to posting something worthwhile and relevant to Valparaiso on this blog soon but, please, don't hold your breath.

You may have noticed I posted the same thing over on Colchaguino. Please feel free to read it again on a different blog.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Updated Bloggers In Chile List

I've updated and rearranged the Chile blog list over on Bloggers In Chile. It's a great resource for anyone looking for information about living and working in Chile. If you're on the list, please can you link back to it on your blog. Thanks!

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Top 5 Wanders In Valparaiso

  • Around Cerro Concepcion and Cerro Alegre.
-Start at the bottom of Ascensor Concepcion on calle Prat and take a ride on the oldest funicular in Valparaiso. Wander along Paseo Gervasoni, past the hotel and then double back on calle Papudo and then take a left towards Paseo Atkinson. Walk along Paseo Atkinson, avoid going into the horribly over-rated and terribly run Brighton and then go right on Beethoven. You'll see the Iglesia Luterana on your right; if it's open go in and have a look, it's worth a few minutes. Walk right out of the church until calle Templeman and take a left past the Iglesia Anglicana (only open on Sundays). Take a right down Pasaje Templeman (there's a silver workshop on the corner) and walk down the steps. Stop at the bottom and look up at the awesome red casa crucero, a house completely renovated by yours truly.

Go left down Pasaje Galvez, down the steps and across Urriola. Walk up through Pasaje Bavestrello and at the top you'll find the other casa crucero in the neighbourhood. Continue down towards the sea to Paseo Yugoslavia and admire the embarrassingly crumbly Palacios Astoreca and Barburizza.

Walk back around and up calle Miramar, taking a left on calle Lautaro Rosas, Valpo's fanciest street. At the end, turn left down Alte Montt and head back down to Cerro Concepcion.

  • Along Avenida Alemania to Cerro Bellavista.
Start at the top of Cerro Alegre in Plazuela San Luis and walk left along Avenida Alemania. There's not much to see along this route apart from the incredible views of the port, Andes and Pacific. Do take a look at the clown museum on Plaza Bismark, though. Keep going until you reach Neruda's house, La Sebastiana, on Cerro Bellavista.

An essential walk to get a feeling for Valpo's history. Start in Plaza Anibal Pinto and walk up calle Cumming. After a few minutes walk, you'll find three cemeteries on your left, Numero 1, Numero 2 and Disidentes. Take an hour or more to wander through the graves of Valparaiso's oldest and most illustrious families and look at all the different nationalities who came to make Valpo one of the richest and more cosmopolitan cities in South America.

After the cemeteries, head across the street to the ex-carcel to see some fantastic graffiti and the cultural centre.

  • Plaza Sotomayor to Cerro Artilleria
Start off in Plaza Sotomayor and walk along calle Serrano. Poke your head into the awesome Bar La Playa for a quick beer. Just past the bar on the same side of the street there's a huge wooden door- if it's open, walk up the marble steps to see what was once one of the grandest offices in Valpo...

Continue to Plaza Echaurren and take a vistazo in Iglesia La Matriz, Valpo's oldest church. Afterwards, keep walking along Serrano until you hit ascensor Artilleria. Take the funicular up to Paseo 21 de Mayo and pay 500 pesos to go into the surprisingly good Naval Museum.

This is a Sunday walk. Wander across Plaza de la Intendencia towards Plaza Victoria. Spend a few minutes in Plaza Victoria admiring the trees and fountain. Walk all the way along Avenida Pedro Montt until you reach Plaza O'Higgins, taking in the Teatro Victoria on the way. Upon reaching your destination, you'll find the stunningly ugly Congress building and a small antiques market.



Friday, 25 September 2009

Terrible Travel Stories

This is part of a group blogging thingy and nothing to do with Valpo at all (it's also a repeat of the post I wrote over on my Santa Cruz, Chile blog Colchaguino.

I've experienced quite a few awful journeys back in the day when lugging a 25 kilo rucksack around in 90 degree heat seemed appealing. But I'll just stick to just the one.

The last really bad trip was in Bolivia. The journey was La Paz to Uyuni, where I would be doing the Salar de Uyuni tour (and as an aside, the Salar and the Altiplano lakes are the most spectacular natural wonders I have ever seen in my life and stomp all over anything Chile has in the north).

The trip started with a taxi driver who, despite my insistence I was late for the bus (I wasn't), insisted on taking me on an unwanted and undiscussed tour of most of La Paz. With the meter running, of course. This, despite the fact that the bus station was 8 blocks from where I hailed the taxi and I knew where we were supposed to be going. All my bags were in the boot of the car so I didn't have much choice in the matter, unfortunately.

Upon arriving at the bus station, I found out that the bus was delayed. By 7 hours. And no, there weren't any other buses leaving in that time. After wasting time by buying an 11 year out of date magazine and eating typical Bolivian gruel, the bus finally arrived. I got on the bus, expecting to be sitting near the front with all the other foreigners (they usually put travellers at the front). Instead, I was one row from the back, directly over the wheel arch, with about 3 inches of leg space and surrounded by friendly but extremely smelly locals who believed that chewing coca leaving and spitting on the floor was the height of sophistication.

The first 2 hours of the trip were then fairly uneventful. I got used to the constant staring from everyone around me. Perhaps the 20mg of Valium I'd bought over the counter at a local pharmacy helped. After 2 hours, the paved road gave way to one of the worst and bumpiest dirt tracks I've ever experienced. This on a 40 seater bus (it had at least 60 people on) with dodgy brakes and completely shot suspension. And remember, I was sitting over the wheel arch.

By this time, the aforementioned Valium had really kicked in. Even with the Valium I failed to sleep. I sat there for the next 12 hours unable to move, my muscles and brain feeling like they were melting. It was like being in a rather unpleasant dream. I don't actually remember all that many details, but one that sticks in my mind, despite the the Valium brain fog, was driving over one particularly deep ditch which resulted in the 5 foot tall Bolivian man sitting next to me being catapulted upwards and smashing his head against the overhead luggage compartment.

Upon finally arriving in Uyuni after 14 hours, my back was killing me, I'd had no sleep and my brain was still foggy from the Valium. It was about 2 degrees centigrade. Not only that, but I happened to arrive on a day when the town celebrates some saint by having a water fight. We were met off the bus by a bunch of children who proceeded to shower everyone with ice-cold water balloons. I found one of the kids later and threw him in a water-filled ditch, much to the amusement of all his friends. It wasn't meant to be funny.

An honourable mention goes to the 15 hour, overnight bus ride from Bangkok to Chiang Mai in Thailand which involved the most obnoxious group of Israeli travellers I've ever had the misfortune to come across (and if you've ever travelled in South East Asia you'll sympathise and understand what that really means), bongo drums, faulty air-conditioning, crazy overtaking manoeuvres and a change of drivers at 80mph (the new driver had clearly never driven a bus in his life before).

I'll just link to Bear Shaped Sphere for a list of the other participants as I don't have time to find everyone else.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Plaza Victoria


Valparaiso was so grand and pretty back in the day. It's still incredibly pretty, but in a run-down, nostalgic kind of way. A lot of people think that the city shouldn't be allowed to change, that it should be kept grotty, poor and downtrodden as that's where the city's 'soul' comes from. I disagree. Valparaiso was a clean, well-maintained, wealthy and culturally vibrant city in the past and aspiring to return to that is something that should be encouraged.

Don't listen to the hippies :)

Monday, 14 September 2009

Valparaiso: Sunrise From Cerro Concepcion

Saturday, 29 August 2009

The Best Places To Eat In Valparaiso

So as I no longer live in Valpo, I was thinking about the places I'll miss when I'm hungry.

  1. Allegretto: Pilcomayo, just behind the Anglican Church, Cerro Concepcion. The best pizzas in town, friendly and welcoming staff and decor and open all the time. If you're ever hungry on a Sunday night, Allegretto is pretty much the only place open. It was always my go-to place whenever I was hungry and there was no food in the house.
  2. Pastis: On the corner of Subida Concepcion and Pilcomayo, Cerro Concepcion. Duck to die for, amazing quiches, cute decor. Probably one of the best restaurants in Chile.
  3. Mastodonte: Esmeralda, just down from Plaza Anibal Pinto. Best and cheapest lunches in town (2000 pesos for a well-presented and really good carne al jugo con arroz y ensalada chilena and a soft drink). Plus the decor is so unbelievably kitsch that you have to go check it out.
  4. Le Filou de Montpellier: Great value French food, entertaining owner. Corner of Almte Montt and Urriola. It's never let me down.
  5. Cafe Turri: Next to Ascensor Concepcion. Surprisingly good value and really pretty good food plus fantastic views.
I'll be back with more of my Valpo faves over the next few weeks. If you didn't know, I'm now living in Santa Cruz, Colchagua Valley, Chile, where I'm about to go to a two year old's birthday party after taking the dog for a long walk. Isn't life exciting?

Thursday, 27 August 2009

How To Get From Valparaiso To Santa Cruz...

...because that's where you want to visit after spending a few days exploring Valpo...

The fastest way would be to simply click on Colchaguino for a virtual trip. The other ways would be:
  • By car: The long, more expensive (petrol and tolls) but infinitely easier way is to take Ruta 68 all the way to Santiago, connect onto the Costanera Norte and then take the exit to Ruta 5 Sur until you hit San Fernando. Exit in San Fernando following the signs to Santa Cruz Casino. From Valpo it'll take around 4 hours including a short pit-stop.
  • By car: The quicker, more complicated way- Exit Ruta 68 at Casablanca and follow signs to San Antonio. Follow the signs to Santo Domingo and Llolleo and you'll avoid having to drive through one of Chile's most revolting cities. Stay on that road for an hour or so, drive past Lago Rapel and then take a right at Cruce Las Aranas where the sign says 'Santa Cruz Casino'. Keep following those signs until you reach Santa Cruz. This way will take a around 3 hours if you don't get lost and it's a really pretty drive so worth the risk.
  • By bus: Take a bus to San Fernando, change to a local bus to Santa Cruz. This way will take you over 5 hours.
  • By bus and train: Bus to Santiago Estacion Central, train to San Fernando and then bus to Santa Cruz. A more pleasant way to travel.

Friday, 14 August 2009

Colchaguino

On Tuesday we're moving down to Santa Cruz, Colchagua Valley, Chile. The move is making me slightly crazed...I'm trying to fit a 200m2 house into a 100m2 house. I don't think it's going to work, to be quite honest.

Anyway, blogging has commenced over at Colchaguino, so please head on over and visit. And if anyone is ever down Santa Cruz way, please feel free to get in touch. I'm always happy to meet up with visitors.

Friday, 7 August 2009

I'm Sure This Should Be Considered Offensive...

...a clothes shop for larger than average people called "Little Fatties".

I'm really not sure why, in the Spanish language, it's considered appropriate to be so rude about people's appearance...but it is...and it's the same in every Spanish speaking country I've been to.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Valpo: Home

Wow, it's been a while since I blogged. I've become a little lazy over the past few months as my time has been more limited due to work and other commitments. I just got back from an entire month in the US on holiday which was pretty great but it's nice to be home again...even if it's just for a very short while before moving down to Santa Cruz, Colchagua Valley (where I can assist you in buying a vineyard in Chile if you wish).

So you already know I was in New York. We spent two weeks in total in the city, upstate and out in the Hamptons and had a fantastic time seeing family and friends. The only downer was getting bitten by a tick in the Hamptons, contracting Lyme Disease and then having my last two weeks of fun in Seattle and San Francisco a tiny bit ruined by the ensuing symptoms of crushing depression, extreme fatigue, headaches, body aches, memory loss, brain fog, confusion, panic, heart palpitations, mood swings and generally feeling all-round rubbish. These were all constants throughout the week in Seattle but were intermittent by the time we got to San Francisco which allowed me to enjoy at least some of my time there.

Actually, I really liked Seattle. The setting is beautiful and there's quite a lot to do. I'm looking forward to going back when I'm not wanting to crawl into a dark corner and cry.

And San Francisco is now one of my favourite cities in the world. So much fun, so much diversity, such a tiny, beautiful city. The food is amazing, the architecture fantastic, the natural setting awesome...I didn't want to leave.

We also spent two days in Sonoma, Napa Valley and stayed with a friend who is a vineyard appraiser. He gave us the scoop on values, who's bankrupt, who's fighting with whom and a fantastic tour of the best restaurants. We had such a good time. It was fascinating to see the Valley- it looks identical to the land around Santa Cruz and also Casablanca. The only difference is that it costs us$650,000 a hectare in Napa and an absolute maximum of us$100,000 a hectare for the best vineyard land in Santa Cruz (the Apalta Valley to be exact). Santa Cruz has a way to go yet...

So here are a lot of photos from the trip.

Cocktails on Sunset Beach, pre-tick bite, now I can't really drink as I'm on antibiotics for 3 months :(



Sunset on Vashon Island, Seattle


Mount Rainier in the background


More Seattle


Napa Valley...

Fancy Yountville dog treats



At the doctor's office proudly holding my (still alive and engorged) tick before it was sent off for analysis. I won't mention where I found it on my body...


One of the prettiest and best maintained vineyards I've ever seen, managed by a US friend from Valpo...



More Napa


But this is Chile...


San Francisco...Alcatraz first


Bay Area


Cool architecture





Chinatown



I'm really not sure I'll have any time in the next 2-3 weeks to blog...I've got so much on at the moment. Probably by the time I have a spare minute to write anything, I'll already be in Santa Cruz, Chile and writing on my new blog, Colchaguino. Corrugated City will be updated on occasion as well- I've got a whole load of old photos to post...

Monday, 13 July 2009

Anonymity

I stand out quite a lot in Chile- over 6 feet tall, white skin, blue eyes, 'blond' is not your average Chilean. And Chileans do love to stare, a trait they share with all their South American cousins. After close to six years, it really doesn't bother me at all. I normally use my foreign-ness to make my life easier in Chile and have become quite used to being stared at.

One thing I love about New York is that no matter what you look like and no matter what you're wearing, nobody else is even slightly interested in you. It's really liberating to start with...

But I don't think I could live my life being anonymous. I've actually grown to enjoy being a curiosity in South America. I'm happy in my own skin and don't feel self-conscious when people stare. It's nice that people recognise me and that I'm remembered when I go into shops and restaurants. I think it makes me feel a little special. And that makes me happy.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

New York

So I have a few minutes free to post some photos from my first few days here in the US.

We arrived on Saturday, 4th July. Incredibly, we got through customs and immigration in about 25 minutes. At JFK this is unheard of. The immigration officer even smiled. Wow.

Saturday was spent brunching, watching a free Conor Oberst concert in Battery Park and then watching the 4th July fireworks from the rooftop of a friend's apartment building. Having seen two new years in Valparaiso, the fireworks were a bit of a disappointment. As someone said after last new year, "Valpo has ruined fireworks everywhere else for me forever".

Now in upstate New York, back to the city for the weekend, up to East Hampton for a couple of days to visit a friend, back to the city again for a wedding and then off to Seattle. Busy...but fun.

Now for the photos. Sorry about the quality but I forgot my camera so these are from my phone.

Looking east from around W 43rd St next to the Hudson just before nightfall.


Fireworks- in the distance you can see that Jersey got a head start on Manhattan.




And finally...I seemed to be the only person enjoying the irony of 100 people arriving at 'land of the free' in the US anthem with a giant CCTV camera directly in front :)

Friday, 3 July 2009

Away

I've had precisely no time at all the past week to blog...and later this afternoon I'm heading off on a one month trip to the US....New York, Seattle and San Francisco. I really can't wait to be on that plane, the last few weeks have been really crazy with work and other things. I've finally got everything organised, including a house and cat sitter who is recovering from swine flu...I hope it doesn't mutate into feline flu :)

Anyway, chances are I won't be doing much blogging on my trip although I'll try to post a few photos of various places. And when I get back, I'll have just a couple of weeks more in Valpo before moving to Santa Cruz where I'm really looking forward to starting a new chapter in my life (although I'll be doing the same work- that's real estate in Chile in case you didn't already know...).

So I'll leave you for now with a photo of where I'm leaving, a photo of where I'm heading to in August and proof that my cat deserves his name 'Tonto'.




Thursday, 25 June 2009

Ascensor Polanco

I wrote about Cerro Polanco a little while ago. As I have no time at the moment to blog properly, here's a photo of how it used to look sometime in the early 1900s.

Friday, 19 June 2009

HMS Manchester in Valparaiso




On Monday the Royal Navy's HMS Manchester docked in Valparaiso. A few weeks ago, one of the crew had contacted me after finding this blog and asked about organising a wine tour for some of the guys (and girls) on the ship. As this was a large group, I sent them over to Michael at Wine Tours Valparaiso who organised tours over two days for junior and senior officers. By all accounts, they had a pretty fantastic time. After being stuck on board eating, quiet frankly, awful food, a gourmet lunch and wine tasting tour was apparently the highlight of their journey so far.

After going out for drinks with some of the crew on Tuesday, we were invited aboard the ship on Thursday morning. I actually thought it would just be a quick half hour walk around the boat but the guys gave us a complete tour of pretty much every part of the ship. We even had lunch in the mess hall (which is how I know the food is rubbish...). And on top of this, they gave us a huge bag of tea, bacon and sausages. I love the Royal Navy :)

What I found interesting is that on board life reminded me so much of going to boarding school. The banter between the people, the smell of the living quarters, the food, the atmosphere, the drills, the punishments for stepping out of line, the respect shown to superiors and also to each other...It was all so similar. The difference is, obviously, that these people are adults. I loved boarding school as a kid. But going to boarding as an adult would be a nightmare...

When US Navy ships have come to Valpo in the past, I've always noticed a rather large increase in referring traffic to this blog for Google searches for ladies of the night. This time, not a single search of that nature. I found that interesting.

In fact, the British sailors were all remarkably well behaved...with one exception. Two crew members made national and international news after stealing a Ronald Mcdonald statue, throwing it in the harbour and getting fined about 300,000 Pesos for their troubles. Whoops.

Our fantastic guide and his living quarters (along with another 30 guys).


The RN still press-gangs children into active service.


But I'm not sure this should be encouraged. Children and machine guns are not usually the best combination.


Then again, the same could be said about adults with GPMGs and SA80s. I should probably add that I'm really not a fan of guns and if this thing had been loaded I'd have almost certainly run away terrified.



This Lynx helicpoter comes from Westlands factory in Yeovil. Yeovil is one of the most unpleasant towns in England. The service crew who live on base at Yeovilton when in England all agreed with me. When back home, I live in lovely Sherborne, just 5 miles from Yeovil but a world away in terms of quality of life.


School dinners!


These three boats are all old Royal Navy vessels sold to the Chilean Navy. Britain and Chile maintain strong naval ties and many Chilean officers are sent over to Portsmouth for training. The Manchester would have been a candidate for sale a few years ago but is now so old and in such poor condition overall, the crew all seem to think it'll just be scrapped. It was built in 1978 and is showing its age.

The RN is a very welcoming bunch.


The boat to the right is from the Brazilian Navy, also in Valpo for a few days.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Plaza Sotomayor

You might want to have a look at this post I wrote a few months ago about Plaza Sotomayor. The building you see with the tower was originally built in 1833 and used as Customs' House. In 1856 it was taken over and used as the Intendencia before being knocked down and replaced, in 1910, by the French style palace that still stands today (which was also the Intendencia before the Navy kicked out the council in the 1970s).

As I've mentioned before, the new Plaza Sotomayor project was recently cancelled, indefinitely it would seem. The remodelled Plaza should have been finished a couple of months ago. Yes, really. Instead, the council decided it would be better to cancel the approved plans and undertake another study as to the feasibility of renovating Valpo's main square. Then, once the study is finished, they'll set up another competition to design the Plaza. My guess is that the work will start around 3050.