Valparaiso, ChileJanuary 22 in Chile
Wow. This was a handful. Valparaiso was a plethora of color, mouth-watering food smells, graffiti, noise, litter (no, garbage), the most beautiful fruits and vegetables I’ve ever seen, cold mornings, hot afternoons, dogs (everywhere) and a feeling of a place that has multiple layers of life.
It has been the home of many artists, poets and writers. It is clearly a place that promotes free expression. There is graffiti everywhere that intermittently transitions to beautiful, colorful murals. There are mosaics imbedded in the thousands of stairs that climb from the waterfront up into the neighborhoods that are filled with candy-colored houses. Walking along, you find many artistic expressions that are totally made of recycled or found objects.
It is a city that has had it’s share of problems. It is in the earthquake zone, which is evident in some of the older, very elegant buildings that now sport crumbling facades. They also suffered some difficult economic times when the Panama Canal opened and they no longer enjoyed the commerce that being a major port for ships coming around Cape Horn brought.
Valparaiso is also quite near the Casablanca Valley which is one of Chile’s main wine-producing regions.
We had the opportunity to visit a couple of wineries and do some wine-tasting. One of the wineries said they produced 1,000,000 bottles a year, yet they are considered a boutique winery. The climate here is somewhere between that of California and France which makes it an ideal place for growing grapes.
Jeff and I also sampled some very typical Chilean foods. Empanadas with shrimp and cheese, a pie that had beef, chicken, black olives, raisins and a cornbread topping, and something called a “completo”. A completo is a hot dog (?) on a bun that has fresh tomatoes, sauerkraut, mayonnaise and avocado. McDonalds came to Valparaiso, but only lasted a year before moving out. Turns out the people liked both the taste and the price of their completo better.Read more