Finally green landscape!

Trip Start Jan 20, 2012
1
6
28
Trip End Feb 26, 2012


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Flag of Chile  ,
Friday, January 27, 2012

Valparaiso is in Chile's "central" district, and Santiago, Chile's capital city is about 80 miles inland. Valparaiso is also Chile's wine country, with weather and land similar to California's Napa/Sonoma valleys.  Valparaiso translates to paradise valley in english and it's immediately apparent why.  It's basically a very fertile valley, surrounded by large hills.  Each hill is like an individual city and there are 16 operating funicular railways to get people from the bottom to the top of the hill. 

We took a city tour which included a visit to the Casas del Bosque winery where we got to sample three of their best wines.  Delish!  The best part of the tour was our tour guide, she was friendly, knowledgeable and passionate about Chile.  She was 52 which made her a young girl in the Pinochet years but she was able to describe what she and her family went through.  In the early 70's people started "disappearing" if they voiced disapproval of the dictator.  There was a strict curfew, everyone was able to go to work/school but had to be in by 6pm.  I remember hearing recently about Pinochet returning to Chile before he died, some people hated him but there were a surprising number who revered him.  She was able to tell us why that was.  The Chilean people are very well educated, and actively involved (voter turnout is in the 80 percent range).  We haven't met many (yet) but all seem well able to discuss their leaders strengths and weaknesses, and care alot about their policies.  The country has a diversified economic base (mining, agriculture, wine, fishing) and a disproportionately large number of artists, poets and authors, many who have won nobel prizes.  Unemployment rate in Santiago is 5%.  Definitely first world.

Valparaiso used to be a major port before the panama canal was built.  All ships rounding cape horn used to dock there.  Since the canal, the valparaiso economy has had to completely change over, citizens are still feeling the effects, unemployment is about 10% here, and many people had to move away.  With the wine industry and tourism from cruises, things are starting to look up.

There was a big earthquake in Conception which is a fair bit south of here (just after the haiti earthquake), but they felt the effects here.  We saw some of the older buildings that were damaged.

We had a sail-away party as we left and will have a full sea day tomorrow.  I love sea days, they are really relaxing.
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Comments

sharonl
sharonl on

This looks like a beautiful location - love the colours of the houses. Very picturesque.

All's good here - cold enough to have the canal open again.

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