Thursday 25 June 2009
Friday 19 June 2009
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.
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
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.
Wednesday 10 June 2009
I just read this report in El Mercurio that cites a study showing that, per capita, Chile has the highest number of flu cases in the world. Also, Chile is 4th on the list of swine flu cases. Not bad going for a country of 16-odd million people.
Now, given that around 35% of the population live in a a city with unbreathable air and thousands of respiratory illness cases every winter, these stats don't really surprise me. They do make me appreciate the fact that I don't live in Santiago, though.
The Global Post published an article about Santiago's air pollution a few days ago as well.
Posted by Matt at 12:47
I'm afraid I haven't had much to say recently so I'm just going to post another foto antigua de Valparaiso. This was taken sometime during the 1920s (1927 is handwritten on the front of the photo album).
Anyone fancy a guess at the location?
Anyone fancy a guess at the location?
Wednesday 3 June 2009
A little while ago, I wrote about how my favourite thing in Chile is the abundance of extremely cheap and really good quality fruit and veg.
Now if you're interested in investing in a fruit farm in Chile, you might want to take a look at Chile Investments.
But if you've ever wondered what it might be like to lose your job as a print journalist and end up working 18 hour days on a fruit orchard and farmers' market in the Chicago area, you might be interested to learn that infrequent commenter and all-round fruit lover Dan is about to start his third season in just such employ. This year he's even looking to be sponsored. Good luck with that.
If a fruit based snark-fest is something that tickles your fancy, you could do worse than go and read the archives over at Fruit Slinger and hope that this year's customers are as idiotic as last year's.
Posted by Matt at 16:17
Tuesday 2 June 2009
This photo, from around the 1880s (just after Plaza Sotomayor was totalled to make room for the monument for the heroes of the War of the Pacific) shows how Valparaiso looked from the water way back when. If you look very closely, there's a white coloured house almost to the far left of the photo. That's my house. And this is the oldest image I've ever found of it.