Corrugated City

Monday 30 June 2008

Dying in Valparaiso:El Cementerio de Playa Ancha & Its Most Popular Resident

We'll start off our trip around El Cementerio de Playa Ancha by re-visiting an old friend, Emile Dubois who I posted about a while back.

Dubois has become a Valparaiso popular saint. Depending on who you believe, he was a murderous liar or an innocent man framed for crimes he didn't commit. No one is ever going to know the truth.

Dubois' shrine is covered in little plaques, left by his followers and giving thanks for his generosity in conceding them favours. These range from the return of a loved one to the conception of a child. Most favours aren't specifically stated...they remain a secret between Dubois and his fan.

Here's the positive version of his story:

Thursday 19 June 2008

Expat Meet Ups

The next meet up will most likely be sometime in September as I'm not around for much of August. Keep reading the blog for updates.

Wednesday 18 June 2008

Lighthouse + Cemetery: A Good Combination

If you do fail to avoid the rocks and drown, at least it'll be a short trip to El Cementerio de Playa Ancha. I'll be posting about this bizarre place as soon as I can be bothered (I'm being a bit of a lazy blogger at the moment. Sorry.)

Lighthouse to the left. Cemetery to the right.

Expat Meet Up II

So thanks to everyone for coming along. We were 16 this time with a couple of last minute cancellations. Some new faces and quite a few from last time out as well. Hope you all had a good time. I'll try to organise another one for next month at some point.

Here are some really, really bad photos. On a side note, cameras around people eating should, in all fairness, be banned.

Saturday 14 June 2008

Thursday 12 June 2008

Dying in Valparaiso: Cemetery Numero II 2

Concluding, for now, our tour of the Valparaiso Cemeteries on Cerro Panteon here are some more photos of Cementerio Numero 2. The totally manic, weird and fascinating Cementerio de Playa Ancha is coming soon.

Tuesday 10 June 2008

Cerro La Campana III

The weather here has been absolutely spectacular for the last week or so: A complete change from the previous couple of weeks of torrential rain. Unfortunately, I haven't really had a great deal of time to take advantage of it and I've been going a little crazy being couped up inside, looking out at perfect sunny days and spectacular views over the ocean and towards the mountains.

The last couple of days I have managed to get out and about. On Sunday a friend and I went up to the Cementerio de Playa Ancha (posts to follow when I finally get around to posting a few more photos of Cementerio Numero 2). And then yesterday, I decided to return to Cerro La Campana for a spot of mountain based exercise.

This time, I went on my own. I just wanted to stretch my legs and see how quickly I could get up and down and didn't want to have to slow down for anyone else.

As I've already described the trip to Cerro La Campana before (more photos here), I won't bore you with too many details. Just that it was much chillier than before and from about 30 minutes into the hike, there was frost on the ground and, from the Darwin plaque and up, chunks of ice that had fallen from the cliff face. It wasn't really cold, especially with the exercise to warm me up but I kept my hoody on the entire time. To be honest, the conditions were pretty perfect for hiking-cool and dry.

I beat my time from a few weeks ago by 25 minutes...I got to the top in exactly 2 hours and 20 minutes and then I literally ran back down in 1 hour 15 minutes (that's 50 minutes quicker than last time). That's pretty speedy. Next time I go, I'm going to aim for 2 hours up...remember that it's 7km up and 7km back down ago...

My legs hurt today.

Some photos and more commentary below:

Cerro La Campana and Aconcagua as seen from my house (I hadn't realised that this was La Campana until I got back yesterday and I recognised it from the shape):

Ice (the bandage thing on my hand is from when I slightly stabbed myself with a knife on Saturday. Ouch.):

Views from the top:

Chi-Chi-Chi-Le-Le-Le. Be proud Chilenos.

Essential hiking gear for a Chilean:

-Sturdy boots
-Warm clothes
-Spray paint

This is Aconcagua again, I love the plane flying over the top.

And this is another big-arse mountain that I'd find the name of if I could be bothered (I can't).

I was joined at the top by this cheeky little chappy. He was quite shy at first but I think he was used to being around people and begging food from them as seen in the second photo with a fellow hiker in it:

Finally, the money shots...Valparaiso, in all its glory as seen from the top of a 2000m high mountain (or a "hill" in local terms). This view was so incredible. It made me feel better than Sex, Drugs and Rock 'n Roll.

Wait. Let me re-phrase that. It made me feel better than Rock 'n Roll.

But still, it was pretty awe-inspiring. I'd heard that you could see the city from the top on a clear day but I hadn't realised how good the view would be. I could even just about pick out my own house through my binoculars. Fantastic. I just sat for over an hour at the top looking at the city I love from about 60km (40 miles) away:

Go hike Cerro La Campana now.

Thursday 5 June 2008

Viña: Safer, More Beautiful.

The slogan is not comparing Viña del Mar with anywhere else, it's comparing Viña now with Viña before. The Ilustre Municipalidad de Viña del Mar is giving itself a pretty well-deserved pat on the back.

Viña has money and it shows. It's generally very safe, there are litter bins everywhere, the roads and pavements don't have potholes so big you could lose the QE2 in them, the two malls are usually packed and offer decent shopping, there are hardly any stray dogs (meaning there's hardly any dog shit) and there's a whole load of new private construction developments under way (and many more that have already been finished).

This is partly how the council gets the funding to undertake public works such as the new promenade that stretches the entire length of the beach, complete with cycle paths, exercise areas and sculptures (the council gets a % of the total cost of any construction project that goes through planning-I think it's 1.5%. It also helps if a corrupt mayor didn't leave you us$30 million in debt as happened in Valpo a few years ago).

The problem is, of course, is that Viña has lost its soul. This is most likely what a lot of Chileans like about it-it's clean, shiny and new. Yuppie Yey.

But the city is losing its heritage. It's becoming a high-rise hell. Summer is a total nightmare as there are so many people in the city. More new apartments attract ever more people, straining the city's infrastructure.

Despite all this, I actually like Viña more than I used to. Out of the summer silly season, it's a pretty and relaxed beach side city. It's got better shopping that Valpo and I must admit it's nice to be able to walk down a street without having to worry about looking out for bottomless pits that I might fall into.

But I still prefer Valparaiso and always will. It's got something Viña will never be able to recover: Charm and soul.

And Viña floods as badly as Valpo in the winter rains. Ha!

Valpo from Viña

Tuesday 3 June 2008

If I Speak Nothing, I'll Sound More Cleverer

There was an article in The Grauniad a few weeks ago that talked about a study into regional accents and dialects in England. I didn't come off very well.

I grew up in the Midlands. Born in Sutton Coldfield and raised 'til I was 14 in Lichfield. Both horrible holes but at least Lichfield has a beautiful cathedral to improve the place. Anyway, I used to have a really strong Birmingham accent. When I was packed off to boarding school at the age of 8 (I loved it, best time of my life), I was fairly mercilessly teased because of it, not in a particularly bullying way, but because everyone else had a generic Posh Public School Accent (Public School in England means private school, by the way).

After 5 years, the Brummie in me had pretty much disappeared and I now have that generic Posh Public School Accent (PPSA). The Brummie comes back when I go back up there and particularly when I go to watch The Greatest Football Team On Earth, West Brom (boing boing). It's difficult to be taken seriously shouting abuse at the referee and the other team when doing so in a PPSA :)

The problem with the Brummie accent and its many variations is that people who have one sound, well, thick. Stupid. Dense. Personally, I think Scally Scousers from Liverpool sound much more stupid, if you can understand what the hell they're talking about in the first place whilst they steal your wallet, hubcaps and anything else not nailed down, but perhaps I'm a bit biased. After all, the study came to the following conclusion:

"The study into dialect and perceived intelligence found that people who said nothing at all were regarded as more intelligent than those with a Brummie accent."
Oh dear.

Expat and Anglophone Meet Up Take II

So it's been a couple of weeks since the first meet up, about time for a second I reckon...

Date and location:

Saturday 14th June 8.30pm.

Saturday seems the best day as it means people can relax and get drunk, an essential part of meeting new people. And on a Saturday, the evening could continue into morning in a different location.

So, talking about location, I think Allegretto is still probably the best idea as the food is cheap and good and the atmosphere also decent. But if anyone has any other suggestions, feel free to chime in. 

Please confirm either by leaving a message here or emailing me at info at pacificfive dot co dot uk 

Look forward to meeting up with everyone again and also any new arrivals.

The boat trip is still something I'd like to get organised as well but we're a bit short of people. There are about 7 of us who I can say are definitely interested so we need around 8 people more otherwise the cost is too prohibitive. So anyone else interested in that, let me know please.

Monday 2 June 2008

Dying in Valparaiso: Cementerio Numero II

It's been awhile since I last blogged about Valparaiso's cemeteries. So here's a post about Cementerio Numero 2.

The highly originally named
Cementerio Numero 2 is so called because it was, erm, the second Catholic cemetery after Cementerio Numero 1. Officially opened in 1845, the cemetery actually started life as a common graveyard around 1840, having been acquired by the council from the Venegas family.

Perhaps as a sign of Valparaiso's growing wealth, the tombs in Cementerio Numero 2 are possibly more ostentatious and, well, fancypants, than in Cementerio Numero 1.

The cemetery shares the same mixture of nationalities as Numero 1 and Disidentes with Spanish, German, British, Serbian, Portuguese, French and other nationalities' tombs.

Cementerio Numero 2 is located directly behind the Cementerio de Disidentes on Cerro Panteon. It is easier to find the entrance as it's just opposite the ex-carcel, on Calle Dinamarca.

As you walk from Numero 1/Disidentes, on the left hand side there's what appears to be an old entrance to Numero 2, apparently long closed. Behind the gate is a porch with some pretty interesting moldings. Stop and look if you walk past.

The main entrance is here:

Here are photos of some of the tombs:

Familia Polanco Saenz, presumably part of the Polanco family that gave its name to Cerro Polanco and later Valparaiso's only vertical Ascensor.

Part of the Atkinson family, who gave their name to Paseo Atkinson.

More photos to come another day.