Corrugated City

Thursday 30 October 2008

Kite Flying: Someone Needs To Have A Word

Chile's long beaches and constant breeze make kite flying an extremely popular pastime in Chile. However, I've lost count of the times I've seen kids in urban areas fly kites directly next to power lines, usually under the 'watchful' eyes of their parents

Templeman con Urriola

Wednesday 29 October 2008

Buenos Aires and Congratulations

I've been in Buenos Aires for a few days for a wedding. A slightly crazy wedding between an English groom and a Brazilian bride.

It started on Friday with a football match. England v Brazil. We lost. 4-1 despite the opening goal being scored by yours truly, a stunning 2 yard tap in. I might add that the Argentine referee rather sided with his South American cousins but I wouldn't want to come across as a sore loser.

The actual wedding was on Saturday, starting off in a church in Belgrano and with the reception in the absolutely stunning Palacio Sans Souci in Victoria, Provincia de Buenos Aires. If you're looking to get married then I'd highly recommend the venue, a Parisian palace in South America. Beautiful.

After the pretty decent food and a thoroughly entertaining best man's speech came the music. It started off quite horribly with a mix of cheesy wedding disco songs like YMCA and a horrible amount of unbearable, anti-music stuff by Queen. Thankfully, that ended and on came the live, Brazilian version of reggaeton, complete with girls in bikinis and 10 foot Brazilian dolls. The groom was not particularly excited by this development (exact words, "I'm not getting involved in this rubbish") but the bride was in her element.

All in all it was an exceedingly fun night. Made even more fun by endless free champagne.

So congratulations to Tim and Soraia for getting married.

Congratulations are also in order for another Buenos Aires based friend, Graham (and Caro), whose son Simon was born on Wednesday. 

Apart from the wedding, football and baby visiting I also met up with an old friend from university who timed her visit to coincide with my time in BA. We had dinner in El Trapiche, my favourite parrilla in Buenos Aires, and had one of the best steaks I've had in almost 5 years of visiting and living in Argentina. Sooooooo good. We also went to Milion, a beautiful bar in an old French style mansion. I got a bit bored of it when I lived in BA-it is sometimes lacking in atmosphere- but it was great to go back and to be able to drink champagne in a place like that for under us$20 a bottle you just can't complain (I like champagne if you hadn't guessed).

A fantastic trip.

If you're heading to BA and want somewhere to stay than I'd highly recommend getting in touch with Silvina ( gorostiagarealestate @ ). I don't like staying in hotels in BA as I used to live there. Also, cheap and decent hotels are really hard to find these days unless you're really willing to slum it or do the backpacker thing (again, not going to do it in a city in which I used to live). So I rented an apartment. This one was half a block from Recoleta Cemetery, one bedroom with cable, internet, decent bathroom and kitchen for us$60 a day. Really good value especially as you can save a lot of money by not eating out all the time. I think Silvina has a couple of other places available as well.

Monday 20 October 2008

Valparaiso Earthquake1906 III: The Dead

As I mentioned in the first post about the 1906 earthquake in Valparaiso (second post here), the death toll was around 3000 people. This number doesn't include the many people who died after the event in the days and weeks that followed. Many more died due to the fires that raged in the Almendral and also due to injuries caused by the earthquake.

Below are a few more images of the catastrophic nature of the quake and a list of the people who are known to have died during the actual earthquake.

Errazuriz y Edwards

Plazuela Bellavista

Fire on Avenida Brasil

Tuesday 14 October 2008

Bombon (El Perro)

Quien carajo le puso el nombre 'Bombon' a un Dogo?
Of the many films that have come out of Argentina's fantastic film industry in recent years, one of my favourites was Bombon (El Perro). I first saw it in 2005 and then a couple of weeks ago I downloaded it from Pirate Bay -it'll take a while to torrent the film as there aren't many seeders out there. If you don't understand Spanish I'd recommend getting it on DVD with subtitles. Also, the Argentine accent might make it difficult for anyone who hasn't had much experience with the form of Spanish used over there. There's not much slang though so it shouldn't be too hard.

Anyway, the film is set in Patagonia and tells the story of a down on his luck and wrong side of 50 mechanic who lost his job in a service station and is trying his luck selling hand made knives. Whilst travelling around, he stops to help a stranded woman, who repays his kindness by giving him her late father's pure bred Dogo Argentino.

Bombon is beautifully acted by the largely amateur cast and it even manages to make the Dogo look cute. Villegas, the main character, is just so pathetic (in a really nice way) that you can't help but feel moved by almost every action he takes. His almost permanent look of misery, his stoicism and his pride make you want to cry with joy when he smiles. It's not a sad film but neither could it be classed as happy. It just is what it is; the story of a man and his dog.

Monday 13 October 2008

Cerro Concepcion Doesn't Need Giant Hotels

For anyone who's read this blog for a while or who knows me in real life, this won't come as a shock: I'm a capitalist pig who loves money, exploiting the poor and pie. But even evil-doers such as myself can see when someone is simply taking the piss. And that's what's happening right now on Cerro Concepcion: Someone is taking the piss out of everyone who lives here.

Now the local residents' association and I agree on some things and disagree on others. They want nothing at all to change on the hill whereas I'm generally in favour of new restaurants, boutique hotels, cafes and boutiques. I'm also in favour of old properties that are in terminal decline and pose fire and other risks being converted into loft apartments and offices. This is the way to attract new investment in the city, new life and new residents. It won't happen overnight but I believe it's the way forward as this city desperately needs investment and it won't get any from a public source.

But I truly don't believe that there's space for a 43 room hotel on Cerro Concepcion, particularly one that insults the architectural heritage of this neighbourhood. Enough mistakes have been made like this already. This hotel will put a massive strain on the infrastructure of the Cerro. It's just too cramped up here to support a hotel of this scale. For those of you that know the area, the proposed site is on the former carpark on the corner of Abtao and Templeman.

The area of the city for which this project would be perfect is, quite obviously, Barrio Puerto. This is a neighbourhood that needs revitalising. The design of the hotel (which actually gets easier on the eye the more you look at it but is not suitable for the cerros) would fit in much better down there. It could be even bigger than 43 rooms. It could be a part of the regeneration of a really run down neighbourhood. There are possible sites in Calles Serrano and Cochrane.

Hell, even a little further up on Cerro Alegre would be more suitable for a project this size, where there's more space and everything's a little less constricted. But Cerro Concepcion is simply not the place for this hotel. This is something the Junta de Vecinos and I can completely agree on.

Tuesday 7 October 2008

Dying in Valparaiso: Murder, Made Easy

Right at the very top of this photo of El Cementerio de Playa Ancha are various vaults that are abandoned, falling apart and no longer have the little inscribed tombstone to cover the shelf like space in which the coffin is placed. Some of these vaults are at ground level and are actually quite deep. This area of the cemetery is the furthest from the entrance that you can get and pretty isolated. You can drive all the way up.

My friend commented, "This would be a great place to dump a body. Drive here, throw it in and brick it up. No one's going to notice."

Just a thought.

Being Nice (not me, obviously)

Kyle's doing something nice. Go check it out and, should you feel the need to be a good person, feel free to help. You might even win a prize.

Wednesday 1 October 2008

Plaza Sotomayor-Way Before and After

So after a quick bit of research after Fiona's comment in yesterday's post about the 1906 Earthquake I came across these images on the ligamar website

Fig. Nº 3. Año 1883. Plaza Rafael Sotomayor.
1. La Aduana de Stevenson, (1833).Desde 1856, Intendencia Provincial.
2. La Aduana de San Agustín, (1839). Tribunales de Justicia.
3. Plazuela de San Agustín. Plazuela de los Tribunales.
4. La calle del Comercio. Desde 1880, calle Arturo Prat.
5. La casa de Juan Mouat, (1843) mal llamada casa de Lord Cochrane.
6. La calle de la Planchada. Desde 1880, calle Ignacio Serrano.
7. La primera plaza de la Aduana. Desde 1881, plaza Rafael Sotomayor.
8. Segundo edificio del Correo, (1869).
9. Banco de Valparaíso, (1858).
10. Edifico de Bomberos, tras la remodelación de 1875.
11. Monumento a Lord Cochrane, inaugurado en 1873.
12. Estación Puerto.
13. Bolsa Comercial (1858), a punto de demolerse para dar paso al Monumento mausoleo de los Héroes de Iquique.
14. Jardín de la Bolsa.
15. Avenida Errázuriz, desde 1875.
16. Cajón de la Compañía de Diques Flotantes. Muelle Provisorio.
17. Edificio Rose-Innes.

Fig. Nº 4. Año 2000. Plaza Rafael Sotomayor.
1. Edificio de la Comandancia en Jefe de la Armada, (1910).
2. Plaza Rafael Sotomayor.
3. Edificio de los Tribunales de Justicia, (1937).
4. Plazuela de los Tribunales.
5. Ministerio de la Cultura, ex Correo, (1944).
6. Ex bar Antofagasta.
7. Hotel Reina Victoria.
8. Cuerpo Bomberos, (1955).
9. Edificio Grace, hoy Compañía Sudamericana de Vapores.
10. Edificio Los Héroes, (1980).
11. Estación Puerto, (1937).
12. Edificio de la Aduana, (1930).

They show the Plaza Sotomayor as it appeared in 1883 and as it is now. It won't be for much longer though (although the basic building layout will be the same). The Plaza is due to be renovated and completely changed again...Judging by the speed of every other municipal project, the remodelling should be finished sometime around 2078. According to the news last year, they should be finished early next year.

They might want to think about starting.