At some point after the gig finished we heard that everyone goes down to the beach… beach at 2000m I thought … never! But alas we stumbled about 20minutes out of town in the pitch black and suddenly we were walking on sand. But of course no sea! After some typical street football using our empty beers cans we decided to call it a night around 3-4am. A great night and an amazing welcome into Chile!
It was a stunning location to just stand and admire the huge volcano in front of us.
COLD! If upright, from your knees below it was freezing cold. Best keep the feet up.
When we all got a bit chilly we got out to be hosed down with fresh water
...and then it was Maracua (passion fruit) sours and peanuts for sundowners! Frightfully civilised!
We explored a few mining caves where salt used to get blown out with TNT and then refined; but that fizzled out when the miners/companies realised they could get it cheaper elsewhere.
After wandering around for a while we finished with a small hike up to a stunning vista point for sunset.
What struck us was the friendliness of the locals; they seemed so smiley and welcomed us to Chile on many occasions. We went to an antique shop where Kyle bought a relatively pricey second hand ‘Inca Cola’ branded yoyo, the kind that ‘sleeps’ at the bottom. He has been playing with it ever since!
We bought a nice bottle of pisco there for just over £4!
Once the richest city, and Chiles financial powerhouse because of its vast port it is now a slightly rundown but very creative community living in (now) the poorest city with the highest unemployment in Chile, due to the combination of a huge earthquake in 1906 then the Panama Canal opening in 1914; ruining the international maritime trade.
This also allowed for the restoration of some buildings, paying for the neutering of the city animals and the rest - unspent still... who knows, probably deep in the mayor’s pockets. The Unesco grant has it’s disadvantages also though – as all the buildings are now ‘protected’ this means that absolutely none of them can be knocked down – only restored. This poses real problems as many buildings are needing serious repair and are falling apart, yet its far too expensive to restore them- better to just move.
On this street was a huge and really shabby building that is owned and solely lived in by a little old Italian lady who poked her head out whilst we were standing outside. Very strange!
Vina is so different – much more pruned, clean cut and modern! I think we prefer the more rough and ready character of Valpo.
It was like having 2 tour guides because when the official tour guide stopped talking, Camila, the unofficial tour guide would start up! She is extremely knowledgeable about the city and has a great interest in politics.
A few things we learnt:
Divorce was only made legal in 2004. There is only one country left in the world where it is still illegal now which is the Philippines.