Corrugated City

Monday 17 November 2008


With the exception of Valparaiso, a handful of places that maintain a little Colonial architecture and, apparently, Punta Arenas (I've never been), most Chilean towns and villages look like how I imagine the survivors of a nuclear war will live as the Earth is rebuilt. Think the Apocalypse with a little extra Apocalypse thrown in, just for fun.

This is particularly true of most Chilean beach resorts. Pichidangui is no exception. As we arrived on Friday afternoon accompanied by grey skies and gusty winds, the village looked bleak, desolate and rather unwelcoming. Some of the houses were so ugly I nearly vomited. I wish I'd managed to shake off my disgust at the architectural nightmare with which I was confronted in order to take some photos to prove my point. But I couldn't and I can't. You'll just have to take my word for it.

Another thing about Chilean beach towns is that, when you enter, you actually travel back in time. In Chile, hotels and complexes are built but never updated. A bit of maintenance here and there, sure, but a full modernisation? Never. So we drove around for a while, choosing our decade. In the end, we decided that the 5ooo pesos premium for 80s kitsch just wasn't worth it. So we went with early 70s.

The Cabañas del Sol complex was one of the first to be built in Pichidangui and is actually really well maintained. The beach hut style cabins are dated (to say the least) but well kept, clean and comfortable.The barbecue was put to good use. The entire complex is really quite pretty with mature gardens and 3 very friendly and surprisingly well behaved Alsatians.

It looks like the set of a Swedish porno from the 1970s...

...and comes complete with an original and highly funky mini oven, enamelled sink and...

...just look at those tiles. Brilliant.

One of the cute dogs.

Saturday was a beautiful day and the sun even made Pichidangui look almost not quite hideous.

The natural setting of the village is, of course, absolutely beautiful. The beach curls along the coast some 7 or 8km with the mountains just behind.

We also managed to find real free range eggs in the mini-market, worth the trip alone. Yum.

The promenade is also very nice with antique street lamps and no graffiti (hard to believe, I know).

Along from the beach we came across the Kon-Tiki cabin complex. Its grounds are private and reserved for guests but who in Chile is going to challenge a tall, blond foreigner? There's a stunning (but freezing) pool made out of natural stone right on the water's edge and a really pretty stone walkway along the mini-cliff front. I was surprised that a small resort like Pichidangui would have a place like this. I was actually slightly surprised that Chile would have a place like this. Modern and attractive mid-range accommodation is just not this country's forte. Expensive boutique hotels, chain hotels or dated cheap-ish accommodation is usually all that's on offer.

For a relaxing weekend away (out of season at least) I'd definitely recommend Pichidangui. It's a 2 hour drive north of Valparaiso.


cavils in chile said...

i enjoyed this! but i don't really want to go.

Matt said...

Really? But it's so pretty, if you don't look at anything built by man (except the kon tiki thing).

Força al canut! said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matt said...

Querido Forca al canut!

Te perdono.

Força al canut! said...

Dear Matt.
Perdón por no tener esas adorables ciudades y pueblitos medievales que abundan en Europa.
Perdón por ser un país joven, con poca historia y poca tradición, y por tener ciudades que en su mayoría tienen no más de 200 años.
Perdón por los terremotos que han ido destruyendo lo mucho o poco que quedaba de nuestra época colonial.
Perdón por la pobreza que ha campeado en este país hasta hace unos pocos años, haciendo que la mayoría de las ciudades lucieran como... pretty rubbish.
Perdón por Iquique, Caldera, La Serena, Zapallar, Villa Alegre, Pucón, Valdivia, Puerto Varas o Coyhaique. Sí, son horribles.
Perdón por ser del Tercer Mundo y no tener el refinado gusto de la gente que habita en el Primero y tiene el tiempo y el dinero para recorrer y poder comparar la rica tradición y milenaria arquitectura de sus países, con las espantosas ciudades tercermundistas.
Y perdón por escribirte en castellano.

The Refined Hedonist said...

To the above post:

Ouch! To each his own, my friend. You speak of young countries.... try being from Canada, a nation who did not officially adopt it's own proper anthem until 1967. History here is virtually non existent. Such is life. He would not live there if he did not find good to balance out the bad. Chile is Chile, I am from there and am contemplating moving back for a spell. Finding a foreigner's blog with views similar to mine is heartening, not a deterrent and certainly not insulting. It simply is what it is.

Unknown said...

The complete travel tips and experiences that a tourist would experience in Chile is shared here. This looks a nice place to be explored, for the first time travelers.