Valparaiso - The Petty Crime Centre of the World
Trip Start Aug 26, 2005
125Trip End May 26, 2008
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'Valpo' as the locals call it, is the central port for the whole of Chile, supplying Santiago and the surrounds. The city is surrounded by the ‘Siete Cerros´ or ‘7 Hills’. The rolling hills loom above the busy port and are covered in colorful houses, similar to ´La Boca´ in Buenos Aires and just as dangerous. There are a number of Funiculars (trams) that take you to the tops of these hills. Its either that or one hell of a staircase, so for the lazy Chileans, the Funiculars are a good option. There are a few streets that are safe enough to walk in, but if you stray from the main road you are in trouble
One of these hills is called ´Museo Cielo Abierto´ or ´Open Air Museum´. Jag and I went for a walk across the hills looking for the famous ´Open Air Museum´ wandering through all these colorful streets looking for it. There were so many amazing brightly coloured buildings but no ‘museum’ to be seen. Eventually, when we decided we had looked everywhere for this famous museum, we decided to enlist in the help of a shop keeper, as to the whereabouts of this museum. She laughed in our faced and said, ´you’re in it, It’s the houses and streets´. ´Wow, that’s a really shit house museum’ we said.
After a little lack of caution we had strayed too far off the safer streets and walked past a few of the dodgy looking locals that stood up and said ´hello gringos´ as we passed by. We knew we knew we were in trouble. We had wandered too deep into the favellas now that there was no way out. The only way, it seemed was to just keep walking up. The locals that we had passed were beginning to congregate behind us, blocking the possibility of backtracking. We were getting deeper and deeper into trouble. Jag and I now realized we had a problem. Deep in the ghettos of ‘Valpo’ nobody can hear you scream
We summed up our chances and carrying only 1 camera and a few dollars between us, and some rubbish old Casio watches, we thought we would take a chance, and if approached, just hand over anything without a fuss and hopefully escape without and blood being spilt.
We turned around and started heading back down the now crowded narrow streets towards the port. As we past the locals, they stood and began walking after us. Oh no!!!! We were scared now, real scared... We picked up pace and looked back to see a group of dodgy looking characters coming down the hill towards us. Before we knew it we were sprinting down the hill as the locals got closer. With ghetto locals chasing down after us we ran through their slums, down the hills, sweating and shaking with fear. Past the local scumbags, and filth of fucking Chile, that so quickly we had grown to hate. We hate this Country. Chile is a disgrace.
We arrived, eventually, at the hostel door, busting in, fearing the worst, but we fought each other to get in the front door and away from the madness we had just experienced in the hills, vowing never to go back. We sat with racing hearts in the hostel and heard the stories of other travelers that had made the same mistake as us, but unfortunately not had as much luck. Earlier that day two other backpackers in the same hostel had been robbed
There is so much diversity on these hills, Huge fortified Mansions are surrounded by cast iron ´ghetto shacks´ and the top of society somehow integrate themselves with huge electrified fences and barbed wire, in some of the worst housing I have ever seen. Stray dogs and cats roam the streets and the homeless outnumber the housed.
Valparaiso is the home of Chiles Naval Fleet, where 6 big naval vessels are docked. It’s also the crime epicenter of the world. The Lonely Planet warns about this place and I´d like to reiterate the fact that it really is damn dangerous! I would advise every traveler to stay away and if you do decide to come here...well, just don’t!
For 1000 Chilean pesos (about 3 Aussie dollars), we took a boat tour around the Harbour, getting up close to the Navy ships and checking out the dry dock, where a huge tanker was being re-sprayed. Basically the tour was a small circle outside the docks. It sucked pretty badly and the highlight of the tour was pulling faces in the group photo at the start
Valparaiso was visited many times by the notorious Pirate Sir Frances Drake, who was the first Englishman to circumnavigate the world. Back in the day Valparaiso was a popular port and hangout for Pirates and Sea scum, most of whom still live in the hills and valleys here. Valparaiso was also visited by Russel Crow in the movie ´Master and Commander´. They come here to repair their ship.
As has become custom with Jag and I, we cannot leave a new city until we have a big night out. If it wasn’t dangerous enough during the day in ‘Valpo’ we thought we would try our luck with the nightlife. Saturday night has been designated as party and drinking night in an effort not repeat the Mendoza binge. So we hit a Gothic pub before going to a club called ´Huevo´ or EGG. Its three levels of action and rooftop Salsa lessons kept us entertained, needless to say I got right amongst it and picked up a few new salsa steps, which I took downstairs to the dance floor and cut sick.
The Egg closed way too early at 5am just as we were bringing out the big moves
The next day with hangovers raging we headed off to a nearby beach town called ‘Vina Del Mar’. It was a dull and miserable day but we kicked on to this famous beach resort. Walking around the headland wasn’t a good idea, but we limited what we carried and took the risk. Around the headland we encountered a military base and a few old WW2 cannons and armament. We had a play, and carried on our way to ‘Vina Del Mar’. There is nothing entirely spectacular to report about the place, its, just a messy beach with lots of tourists. So we walked a little further to the next beach called ‘La Renaca’. A camera crew strolled up to us whilst we were sitting on a bench and proceeded to publicly humiliate us in front of the locals. What happened was this: two fairly hot girls put bibs and baby hats on us and started rubbing us down with some kind of baby sun screen. This part was ok and mildly entertaining, to be honest, we quiet enjoyed it. All this happened while being filmed. Then we were fed out of a bottle full of some kind of sweet alcoholic beverage. The two hot girls then bent us over their laps and spanked us, and made us sleep on their shoulders, after our public nap we were woken and made to dance ring-a-ring-a-roses, before our 15 minutes of fame had expired and they thanked us with another spank and headed off to the next group of unsuspecting tourists
This is the second time I have been filmed in my time in South America. The first was in Mendoza when a camera crew came up and asked us what we thought of the chicks here. Along came a few more questions, some that I didn't understand and I responded with ´Si - es muy frio´ - ‘yes, it’s very cold’.
The beach provided mild entertainment for the day and after a greasy lunch from a street side stall, we returned to our hostel and spent the afternoon watching ‘Anchorman – the legend of Ron Burgandy’. TV is a luxury out here and when we find one, we tend to watch it as much as possible as we are never sure when we will find the next one.
It’s the 25th of Jan and I'm still battling my way through Chile with Kiwi buddy Jag. We left Valpo and traveled South to a big surf break called Pichilemu.