Monthly Archives: March 2008
The talent of the City
Someone wasn’t short of a bucket or two of paint when this place was created, that’s for sure. The colourful port is an exotic combination of strange geology, industry, poverty, wealth and tourism. It has a vibe.
The hills reach down toward the port but then stop to allow room for a lower flat area, filling the gap between hills and port/sea. You can access higher/lower territories by a series of rickety old funiculars (see below), narrow paths, winding steps and twisting, unsystematic roads.
Having a car could have been troublesome but in reality it allowed for extra exploration… it took forever to get anywhere as every two minutes we’d be stopping to gawp and snap at a new set of graffiti – if you can even call it graffiti – there are some seriously talented people out there.
I felt slightly bad at being so proud of my colourful selection of photographs from Val because they are so vibrant and interesting mainly due to the talents of the street artists and not to my photographic skills. Perhaps these guys would be proud to have their work snapped?
The colourfully paint-splattered streets compliment the colourful housing that is pasted over the hills. Greens, reds, yellows, blacks, pinks, whites… all the colours of the rainbow and more, creatively combined and clashing to create a totally unique town.
The colourful housing of Val, somewhere on Cerro Concepccion.
This statue of the Virgin Mary stands high on a hill surrounding the grand city of Santiago, Chile. I was impressed, to say the least, with this place. Surrounded – almost ‘hugged’ by numerous ‘cerros’ (hills), the city is a snug little place with crystal clear views of snowcapped andean peaks to top it off.
The city seems clean with contrasting districts to keep it interesting, the subway is superb (a sure bargain at only 380 centavos – 50p) and the people friendly.
Staying in the rather nice suburb of Providencia, I even had a little pool in my hostel, right outside my room. Not your average hostel, but I wasn’t complaining. I even picked up the neighbour’s WIFI. Bonus.
Exploring the sprawling metropolis, I ventured north to another pretty, safe neighbourhood called Bellavista. From there I hopped on the bubble car and was taken up, up and away to the foot of this striking statue where prayers were being said, lovers whispered sweet nothings and candles were lit. If silent music could play, it was playing here. It was more of a hushed lullaby that induced peaceful thinking, deep thought, reflection. Every city should have a place like this.
I was asked to take a photo of two Chilean guys and their (what could have been) daughters. Good excuse guys. The next thing I know I’m being asked out for lunch with one of them. Nice, but no thanks chicos. Maybe next time…
Coming down the hill by way of funicular (yes, you can walk) you arrive in a totally contrasting neighbourhood into ‘Pio Nono’, a restaurant lined street that could do with a bit of TLC. Party zone by night, this is traveller district. A good vibe, nonetheless. Now, where is my pisco sour of the day?
A church, skyscraper and palm in Providencia.
Meet Pedro (actually I don’t know his name but he looks like a Pedro) and his mulitos. Have just completed the crossing of the beautiful Andes from the Argentine town of Mendoza, we enter Chile to discover a more green, tree-filled and pretty region than on the Argentine side. Pedro was full of smiles and somewhat dumbstruck when I asked if I could take his picture, but obligingly he posed, then carried on with his day as if nothing had happened.
I wonder if he thought any more about it or turned his mind back to his mules, his wife, his family. I’ll never know.
Our car is the one on the right!
This is the car park at the foot of Aconcagua, the tallest peak in the W Hemisphere at 6962m, in the Acongagua National Park – a stone’s thrown away from the Chilean border (border crossing of Los Libertadores).
Often called the ‘roof of the Americas’, it has a volcanic summit which covers a base of uplifted marine sediments. Interesting facts for anyone, geologist or not! Quite spectacular too. The wind blew and the sun was strong and warm, but the altitude could definitely be felt as we hiked the 2km trail to the Laguna Los Horcones for a better view.
This is post-flight. Up, up and away we went as we drifted on warm thermals, condors cruising by in the distance. Back in the beautiful Sierras near Cordoba, we found ourselves baited by the outdoor pursuits and by the hospitality of Tristan and Antonia (Founders of Sendas Travel).
Meet the lovely Hume family… well, five out of seven anyway. Missing is dad Bobby and 5th sister. Here we are, galloping along in the pampas on a family adventure exploring the land.
The most lovely, welcoming family you could come across. Meal times are somewhat crazy and not dissimilar to feeding time at the metaphorical zoo. Full of life, play, love. And this is where they live, Estancia La Tomasa, nr Cachari, nr Azul in the Pampas… a few hundred k’s south of Buenos Aires.
Sofi and I are off, leaving a rather wet and stormy estancia behind. Wet in more ways than one with particularly watery eyes as farewells are said, pack up our little casita and leave Tash behind……..
We could have been 10 years old again as we pelted through the storm to our casita to pack up. Hysterical laughter and squeals echoed through the hills as cracks of thunder and gusts of wind lashed out with unexpected hail topping things off. Flip flops flying, mud galore…what must the horses have thought?
The sun reappears and we sit and await Miguel to take us to Cordoba to catch overnight bus, Azul bound. More farms, here we come, giddy up.
Hasta…I don’t know when. Long may the adventures last. So long, Estancia Los Potreros.
Jose, Kevin and our trusty (er hum) guide Chiche. Shortly before we got lost in the Sierras. The destruction of jesuit walls, clambering over rocks carrying our horses, wading through gushing rivers and a little bit of bushwacking were just some of the adventures to be had en route.
Luckily the threatening storm grew close, then backed off and disappeared over toward the Andes, or at least I think it was that way but considering our orientation skills on the day, I couldn’t quite be sure.
Jose carries the horses across dissembled Jesuit stone walls.
Somewhere in the Sierras Chicas.
2B or not ’2B’… the annual event at Chiviquin, the cattle station at Los Potreros. Let the pictures do the talking. Noisy mooing, dust flying, cattle running, skin sizzling, gauchos running, ropes lassoing. An intense Argentine experience to say the least.