Corrugated City

Wednesday 14 March 2007

This is Valpo

So, to see what Valparaiso looks like, just click


Saturday 10 March 2007

Changes and things i miss

Some of you might know that i recently moved from Buenos Aires. This is just a quick post to mention a few of the things i miss about Argentina and the things i'm enjoying here in Chile.

A few of the many things i miss about BA:

-Buenos Aires' energy and atmosphere. A kind of electricity that envelops the city that i've never felt anywhere else.
-Argentine's stupidly cheap utility (gas, electricity, water) prices.
-Beef. Nothing more need be said.
-The crumbling, faded beauty of BA's pre-war architecture.
-The cultural life (not that i ever took much advantage of most of what BA had to offer but i enjoyed knowing that at some point i could if i wanted to!)
-The parks and the way Argentines take advantage of their public spaces. Sundays down in Puerto Madero and the Costanera Sur were one of my favourite things about BA.
-Argentine courtesy and language-so much more polite and 'hablador' than Chileans who are far more direct and aggressive in their speech. Queueing is non-existent in Chile, where the elbow rules.
-My old house.
-The way that every barrio has a friendly hardware store, a grocer, a glazier, a baker, a butcher and all the other independent shops that died a death in most of the developed world, and Chile, 20 years ago. And the way that these shops are usually cheaper than their mega-store competition.

Things i'm enjoying in Chile:

-Valparaiso, one of South America's most unique and spectacular cities. Like BA, it has a ramshackle charm that is slowly being regenerated.
-Waking up and looking out across the Pacific.
-Drivers who know how to drive.
-Policemen you can trust.
-A hideous bureaucracy that at least has some vague kind of logic to it. The only ridiculous bureaucracy that has so far driven me crazy was the Argentine consulate.
-Fried shrimp and cheese empanadas.
-Excellent sea-food
-Excellent international cuisine. When i first arrived in Chile 3 years ago, the food was, to put it mildly, appalling (with the exception of sea-food). Now, Chilean international cuisine is the finest i've had anywhere on this Continent.
-Peruvian food. Wow.
-Cerro Concepcion's (where i live in Valpo) village atmosphere.
-Beer that tastes of beer and not rat's urine.
-Sunshine without humidity.
-Cool summer nights.
-My new house.
-Being able to pay for almost everything with credit card.
-Lack of blatant, in your face corruption.

Well these are just a few things that i can think of right now. Over the coming months i'm sure many more will come to mind. Although i really miss BA, i'm happy to have made the move over to Valparaiso. My girlfriend is back closer to her family and we can start really making plans for our business and what we want to do with our lives. The next few months are going to be kind of crazy, renovating part of our house, setting up a business, travelling, entertaining and more. But it's going to be fun and i love making new starts. Finished things are boring...

What's it all about?

Well, i've been trying to get around to this first post for quite some time but a fair few things have got on top of me and it hasn't been possible. The idea in this first post is to explain what this blog is going to be about. Or maybe i should explain what it's not going to be about and then we'll go from there.

This blog will NOT ... used to bitch and whine about things that annoy me, rather it'll be used to point out Chile's and particularly Valparaiso's little foibles. political. Or at least i'll try my hardest not to write too much political rubbish. That's for other, less interesting people to write about.

The idea is to give an outsider's inside view of life in the Quinta Region's capital city: Valparaiso. My main focus will be on the city's architecture and the influence of foreign immigrants (in particular, the British, seeing as i'm English myself) on the city's growth, culture, atmosphere and physical look. I want other foreigners to understand the city they visit. Most tourists come for a day, have a quick wander around and then go back to Santiago without really 'seeing' the city. Valparaiso is worth far more than a day. You can spend days walking around the exact same streets and see something new or surprising or just plain loco that you failed to notice the day before; it happens to me every single day.

So why 'Corrugated City'? For those of you familiar with Valparaiso, you'll know that most of the old houses here are made from adobe. To protect the exterior from the wind and winter rains, these houses are clad in corrugated iron (although they're now made from zinc or aluminium). i kind of see all of Valparaiso like that, especially the people. Portenos (Valparaiso locals) are famous in Chile being tough, proud and perhaps somewhat awkard. They can come across this way, but underneath this armour-plated exterior i've found them to be friendly and generous.

So...corrugated city, referring to the architecture, people and city in general. Crinkly on the outside, warm and friendly on the inside.

I'll also be reviewing the places i go: restaurants, tours, museums etc. I'd like this blog to eventually become a kind of one-stop site for all kinds of info about Valparaiso.

This and the following post will most likely be the last posts for almost a month as very soon i've got visitors and we're off on a mini-tour of the south but once i get back, i'll start blogging with a vengeance. Hopefully.

Feel free to leave comments and suggestions. If you have any info about Valparaiso that might be of interest feel free to get in touch.