The trip to Valparaiso
San Pedro de Atacama Travel Blog› entry 17 of 19 › view all entries
December 8th, 2008 – by: sojourner74
Met an interesting Belgian on the bus to Calama. He's a biologist who is helping with cataloging all the known agricultural plants in the world. So he travels to many parts of the world and goes out to remote places to visit rural farmers. It was interesting discussing the issues relating to loss of genetic variety among crop species as many farmers move towards high yield crops. Other things we discussed included organic farming and even global warming and it's effects on agriculture.
The flight was rather uneventful but when we got to santiago we realised that because of some pilgrimage, the road to valparaiso was closed, so we took a bus to vina del mar and a bus from there to valparaiso.
It turns out that vina is now part of 'greater valparaiso'. It's a continuous strip of development from valparaiso all the way to vina del mar and it looks like it'll stretch further north.
Anyways, it was another beautiful day and it was good to finally see the sea after all those days in the hot,dry and dusty desert.
We had decided to stay at hostel caracol and it was a great choice. Getting there was interesting too as it involved taking a trip up an ascensor and then a uphill hike among what is known as the outdoor museum.
Valparaiso is essentially a port town and it's claim to fame was the fact that before the panama canal almost every merchant ship which went round the cape would stop over in this town.
What is also interesting about the town is that there is a fairly narrow strip of flat terrain at the port and this rises rapidly in steep hills as you proceed inland. As the population expanded into the surrounding hills, ascensors or elevators were built to help transport people up and down the hills. These ascensors have been working for about 100 years I think.
Anyways, we decided to do some exploring but found almost all the shops closed. Still the town is pretty beautiful from afar it almost looks like houses are built on top of each other. Up close the narrow streets are filled with artistic graffiti. You might walk down a lane and find the owners adding to the artistic beauty of the place by doing some stenciling or other artistic endavour on their pavement on even on their door.
One of the few galleries was exhibiting works by Jorge Martinez Garcia. www.jorher.com We wondered in looking like vagrants at about 7pm and surprise surprise, he actually came up to us to introduce himself. We ended up talking to him for over an hour and visited his personal studio and saw some of the works in progress. He is well known for his etchings. A really tedious and time consuming process which starts with a plate of copper which is laminated. He then makes all this tiny etchings on to the laminate and then the whole piece of copper is subjected to a acid bath, after which the laminate is removed leaving the final etching. This is then used to print on to paper. We were really impressed by his work.
Before we knew it, it was 9pm and we were starving.
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