February 3rd: Valparaiso
Oh, the excitement of reaching South America! I was up early to take photos of the town as we sailed towards it. I’m not terribly clever with my camera, so had to take shots on several settings before I managed one with reasonable clarity. The ship of course was in motion, which frustrated any attempt at slow shutter settings. I got several blurry shots of city lights looking like shooting stars streaking across the morning sky.
Valparaiso is a city with a climate much like my fantasy of a New Zealand summer: not too hot, not too cold. Apparently it never rains here in summer, although there was an anti-cyclonic gloom clouding the sky on the day we were in port.
At first sight, the setting of the town was a little like Wellington, in that an initially flat foreshore rose steeply a few hundred metres inland, to a terraced level that then climbed gently to the hills behind.
Unlike Wellington, there are few streets or roads granting access from one level to the next. Funiculars run up the hills behind the town and form a serious part of the city’s transport grid. The funiculars are somewhat elderly. The one we took to descend to the foreshore area took only seven passengers each trip, although the cabin could have held many more. I assume this conservative measure was due to the aged nature of the equipment.
Almost all residential areas were up on the terrace, leaving the flat land below for the CBD.
We had a good tour, around the town, and after we’d been dropped off at the docks, we decided to strike out on our own, and ended up in a supermarket for some items.
We wandered through the store selecting groceries, rounded the end of the toothpaste aisle and came across a group of exotic dancers and musicians, dressed in festival costumes, and obviously there to promote some product. Cavan of course was in his element, and I believe the photo I took of him with the women will be his favourite from the entire trip.
We never did find out what they were promoting – They were performing somewhere between the frozen meats and the cheese counter, so it could have been anything. I have to say that it’s a far cry from the decorous wine tasting, or cheese tasting that Otaki New World puts on for its customers.
Later, sadly, we discovered two passengers from our ship died today in Valparaiso. One suffered a major cardiac event in the Port Terminal building. The other tried to cross a major road, and forgot that traffic comes from the opposite direction to New Zealand. Unfortunately, they were run over by a tram and died.