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The World of Imagination and Fun in Puppetry

Travelling throughout Chile is a wondrous adventure, every day is different, every day comes alive in the streets of the cities, the hustle and bustle of the people, the street walk sellers, and the outdoor restaurants, all give an impression of one continuous party or festivity. I have seen such wonders that have left me amazed and in awe of Mother Nature, and this incredible Planet we call home. Wonders from the mesmerizing Glaciers and Continental Ice Shelf’s in the Patagonian region of Chile down South, to the vastness of the harsh sands and searing Sun of the Atacama Desert up North of Chile. The vibrant Culture and lifestyle is much like a Spiritual movement, the very air vibrates with motion and energy, you see it in the faces of the people, the relaxed afternoon lunches enjoyed by those dining under the outdoor umbrellas in the warm sunshine, whilst in the background you are watched over by the massive snow capped mountains of the Andes, or as called in Chile, La Cordillera del los Andes. Chile from North to South, its Cities, small villages and people are endearing. Admittedly a Third World Country in many ways, but in other ways it has qualities that the Western World doesn’t have. It is very easy to fall in love with Chile, and I have as such, fallen under its spell. Having recently returned in October last year, plans are now being made for this year’s adventure, new places, new wonders and new secrets hidden in the small villages and regions of this captivating Country.

I have recorded many adventures in photographic form, and yet in a number of instances, I have missed out on once in a lifetime pictures due to not having my camera with me. This anomaly occurs due to thinking that we are only going a short distance for a specific purpose and not to be encumbered with a camera. A very bad mistake I have since learnt, when you least expect it, that once in a lifetime moment occurs. I missed photographing three UFO’s or OVNI, hovering over Santiago one evening, they were far out in space yet huge enough to be hovering in the atmosphere above us. Unfortunately Camera’s and Jewellery are a strong temptation in public in Chile. In subsequent visits to Chile I do retrace some steps to get that one missed photographic moment, alas that UFO moment cannot be recreated.

It was a few weeks before we were to leave Chile and return to Australia, we decided to take a day and revisit Valparaiso Harbor, a beautiful flamboyant area of the Harbor, street vendors displaying an assortment of wares, handcrafted goods and the usual tourist attractive items. We were specifically looking for one handcrafted object, it is glassware, specifically a melted bottle that retains an image that is embedded in the melted glass, but I will leave that story for another time. It was on the shores of the Harbor that we came across one of the best enchanting street artists I have been fortunate to see.

The street entertainer was a Puppeteer or Marionette Master, he had five puppets, one was an Opera singer complete with tuxedo and white shirt and tie, two were a duet team, one was a Country and Western singer with a guitar, and the last was a Skeleton. He started his music and those puppets came alive, the adults looked on in enjoyment, the children watched in amazement, smiles from ear to ear and eyes as big as the Moon, mine was the same as I looked at a small girl and she smiled back at me with her mouth wide open in awe. I had first started to watch the Puppeteers hand movements until my eyes were drawn to the Puppet, I became lost in a Child’s world of enchantment and fantasy.

I was transported into the imaginary world of make believe fun of a Childs mind, a beautiful world we all have hidden away in the recesses of our Childhood memories.

I regret not having a video recorder but then again, recording it would have taken me away from the pure wonderment of that magical moment. I was sure someone around the world would have recorded this artist, I searched the internet and found a recording, I can’t be a hundred percent sure it is the same artist; however the song and movements of the Puppeteer are virtually similar.

I leave you to enjoy this fascinating performance by The Skeleton, as he plays for you, Let’s Twist Again by Chubby Checker.

Cheers

Emu

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Posted by on January 20, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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The Road to Alto Hospicio

Further to our recent adventures in the Atacama Desert of Northern Chile, I will add to my Story on Alto Hospicio, which can be found in one of my earlier posts. In that story I wrote of the City of Iquique, bordered by the ocean on one side, and the mountain range dividing it from the Atacama Desert. From Iquique you can view the mountain range quite clearly and discern the winding road to the top, looking up you would not believe there is another city at the top, the magical part of this phenomenon, is that you cannot see the city of Alto Hospicio from the city of Iquique on the ocean side, yet on reaching Alto Hospicio, you can view the city of Iquique spread out before you below, right from its northern point to its Southern most point. High rise buildings appear minuscule; the whole city becomes a tiny small piece of a network of Mans existence.

We drove from Iquique up the steep winding two way road to Alto Hospicio, watching Iquique grow smaller and smaller behind us as we ascended. From the city above a city we proceeded on to our destination in the Atacama Desert. Before leaving this city above the clouds, we stopped for a while and looked down over the panorama before our eyes below. A scene of unbelievable mans artwork combined with Mother Nature, a city built by man and bordering the vast ocean as a backdrop, and here I was looking down from the clouds of the high mountain range of the Atacama.

My photographic skills failed me at this time, I did get photographs but they did not do justice to what I was seeing, I desperately wanted to get some photographs on the return journey at night time, as the night scenes are known to be spectacular. Four hours later returning from the interior of the Atacama, we passed through Alto Hospicio on our return home to Iquique, again we stopped and this time viewed the whole coast line of Iquique ablaze in lights, a spectacular display of color that reflected of the ocean aided by the bright moons rays opened before my eyes. My camera defied every setting to capture this scene in all its glory, standing out most was the brightly lit winding road leading back to Iquique, twists and turns that self describe the mountain ranges sheer height.

Now back home and going through my photographs, I find nothing to illustrate these scenes in my writings, with the help of Ana and some research we did find a picture that may bring my experience to life.

I have to admit that on each return to Chile, I do tend to retrace steps from previous visits, purely because I recall moments and times when I had no camera or my camera had a mind of its own. A couple of times I was caught out without a camera, one being watching the beautiful Puppets playing on the Valparaiso Harbor, the other witnessing a fleet of UFO’s, or in Spanish, OVNI, over the streets of Santiago, a common occurrence in Chile. I leave you with this extraordinary photograph of the road from the city above the clouds, Alto Hospicio, to the city below the clouds, Iquique.

In closing, Ana and I would like to wish all my followers, a beautiful Christmas, may it be full of Fun, Laughter and Happiness, and most of all, Love.

Emu

 
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Posted by on December 20, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Pica- An Oasis in The Desert

Pica

Leaving the old mining town of Humberstone we headed to a beautiful town in the Atacama Desert called Pica for lunch; this town is a commune in Tamarugal Province, Tarapacá Region. Situated in the inland of the Atacama Desert on an oasis, Pica is famous for its small and unusually acidic lemons. The town has a communal spring with a surface temperature of 40 °C, which makes it a popular bath place in the middle of the desert. It has hotels and all basic services. The trip was an hour’s drive over 71 kilometers of dry Atacama Desert roads. The attraction for Pica was twofold, one being that it was an oasis in the desert and the other that our tour guide, our Niece, knew of a very fine restaurant in the town that she had once worked in.

Driving into Pica, it became clear why it was titled Oasis DE Pica, the whole town and surrounding land changed from the dry Desert soil and blossomed into a world of greenery, numerous orchards in full fruit surrounded many houses, Oranges, Lemons, Grapes and other citrus fruits including the towns famous Limes, all fed by irrigation channels drawing water from deep below the Desert soil, there were many houses that had swimming pools to escape the heat. Every town in Chile is an adventure, driving slowly through the town I tried to absorb as much as possible, the various styles of houses, the town center with its water fountain, shops in vast array of colors selling goods of every kind, restaurants with tantalizing menus adorning the sidewalk, a truly captivating Oasis.

We arrived at our restaurant, called Yatiri, approximately mid afternoon, which is considered the time for Lunch in Chile, we were welcomed with open arms, hugging between the males and kisses and hugs for the females, the normal form of greeting in Chile, shown to our table we were presented with the drinks and food menus, at this stage the help of Ana my interpreter is needed, describing each dish on the menu until a choice was made. I selected a dish that I had never tried before, Llamos or as we know it Llama, this was served with beautiful small sauteed mushrooms and baked potatoes done to the Chilean way. The meal was a playground of various tastes, the Llamos was indescribable, cooked to perfection and melting in the mouth with every bite. I enjoyed a local craft Beer and indulged in two glasses of Pisco Sour, purely for the pleasure of tasting this national drink with the Pica Limes, as all over Chile it is well known, that the Pica Limes are the true authentic Lime to have with the Pisco Sour.

After relaxing for a while after such a feast, we bid fond farewell to our Hosts and started the journey for home. Driving through the town I photographed a number of subjects that drew my attention, a couple of displays of artistry that some residents have adorned the front of their houses with, and a couple of trees that are work of art by Mother Nature herself, their sizes and shapes were captivating, as I am sure you will agree.

It was late in the afternoon when we farewelled Pica, a beautiful Oasis town situated in the interior of The Vast Atacama Desert


Wall Poster highlighting Chilean Nitrate Enterprising Domestic Artwork These Trees are unbelievable, not only in the length of time it has taken to grow them, but in the various shapes the branches have assumed during their growth. The Knots and Bark on these trees is amazing, the leaves provided a beautiful restful shade cover The entrance to one of the Plazas, water fountains abound in many of the gardens and parks in Chile

 
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Posted by on December 14, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

An old Theatre, where Ghost’s from the Past still Echo

In the old Ghost mining town of Humberstone, in the Atacama Desert of Northern Chile, stands a huge wooden building, its wooden walls and roofing slowly crumbling and returning to the sands of the Desert, time and the elements have taken their toll.

But this old building was once the cultural Center of the self sustaining community that became known as The Humberstone Mining Town Theatre. This theatre bought a semblance of Culture to the workers and families back in the 1800’s. I stood outside and imagined this grand old Lady back in her heyday, the sheer height told its story of Cultural dignity, its wooden walls held secrets of long forgotten Plays and Presentations, a time when the outside world became alive and real to those who toiled underground in the mines, and the Families whose daily lives were directed by the harsh Desert Sun and the whispering shifting sands.

The main entrance is at the side of the theatre, standing at the entrance one sees the whole interior open up, to the right is sets of wooden seats, seats that do not rise up when vacated as in modern theaters, further to the right is the Stage, not large by any means, stood a solitary Podium behind which hung background drapes of Velvet Red, now fading with time. Standing at the door and looking to the left, are further rows of seats, all these seats are below stage level so viewers were looking up at the stage, and behind these seats were five small alcoves at eye level with the stage, presumably for those in a higher financial bracket. Above this Alcove was the Balcony with seating that would accommodate about 100 people. The theatre overall in my estimation would have accommodated approximately 500 to 600 Patrons. Running the length of the theatre between the aisles was a red carpet, now faded and showing the passing of time, worn thin from the Ghosts of memory’s past. The old theatre, even in its original days would bear no resemblance to those majestic theater’s that flourished throughout Europe back in the 1800’s, yet this theatre held a secret, a secret that also is fading into the Desert Sands of The Atacama Desert.


The afternoon was drawing late, the fly by tourists had already left the theatre as I approached and climbed the steps to the stage, standing behind the Podium

I looked out over the theatre, taking in the seats below my eyes, and drifting to the rear and up into the Balcony of the theatre, there was a silence that became shattered with laughter and applause, as I let my imagination turn back in time, who were the Patrons applauding and who was making the Patrons laugh that bought joy to their everyday harsh lives. Plays and Presentations became alive as I let my mind wander back through a foggy haze into the 1800’s. Through the laughter and applause the sound of music broke my reverie, I looked down at my feet and realized I was probably standing in the same spot as once The Great Enrico Caruso stood.

Yes one of the greatest Tenors the world has ever known shared his beautiful voice and music in this old theatre hidden in the Atacama Desert. Caruso was born in 1873 and died in 1921, somewhere before 1903 he toured South America including Chile, and one can only think that at that time, the corporation and administrators saw fit to engage Caruso to perform at the Humberstone theatre. I closed my eyes and lent my ears to wild imagination, as I heard that great Tenor’s voice erupt and echo through the walls of that old wooden theatre. That brief moment in time passed as I floated in mind back to my reality of time in the present.  I left the theatre with a feeling of experiencing a gift of glance into the past. As I walked away back out into the sunlight I knew one thing for sure, those old wooden walls of this ancient theatre will always resonate to the music and Voice of one of the greatest Tenors the world has ever known, Enrico Caruso.

In a few more hundred years this old wooden theatre will return to dust, its history just a memory for those who lived its times, were part of its existence, a part of a memory when the beauty of life, fun, laughter and music gave enjoyment and hope to those who lived in those days.

One day the old theatre will crumble into dust, when it does, I would like to think that the music and voice of Enrico Caruso, will echo forever more, across the vast sands of The Atacama Desert.

 
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Posted by on December 9, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Humberstone School–A Mining Town School in the 1800’s

I had closed the story on my Humberstone Mining Town adventure, thinking I had exhausted any potential posts on the subject. Looking back through my photographs of this time, I see I neglected a couple of subjects within the township that are worth sharing. I find that when I write on a subject that there always appears another story within the topic. In this case it is the Humberstone School. This School was built in the 1800’s as part of the overall self contained Community Township, all facilities being provided in the Town including the School.

 I walked the classrooms and the only hall dividing the classrooms. It was a strange experience, a long hallway dividing the rooms, desks still arranged as though the class was away for the day, school desks from an era that epitomized the basics of provisions for education. Stark wooden walls with high windows, wooden floors that many young feet had scampered across in races to their desks. The old desks with a single ink bottle holder well and two little recesses for pens, beneath a little nook for slates and other study material.

The desks alone told the story of those times, desks that little hands had used as an engraving board, messages, pictures and childhood graffiti decorated the lids, possibly demonstrating a lack of boredom, desks arranged to face the front of the classroom where a solitary teacher sat, and behind, a large chalkboard depicting possibly the last lesson taught in that old school. I wandered down the corridor, if I remember rightly, there were five classrooms on either side, all similar, stark bare rooms with desks, a chalkboard and teachers desk, the only difference I could perceive was the style and sizes of the desks, I assumed this was a reflection of the ages and classes held in these rooms.

Humberstone  Township was a working community for many Miners in those days, Miners who would have bought with them children of varying ages, the School back in those days, would have been seen as a major part of the community, a very real part of integrating the community into the promotion of education for the Miners children.

Normally my imagination goes wild with imagery when I walk through places such as this old School house, in this case I felt a numbness, a silent numbness, a feeling of despondency with tinges of Hope and daydreams from little minds as to where imagination can take them.

On one lonely wall hung a solitary sepia picture titled Humberstone Primary School, looking at that picture was a complete lesson in history, hopes and dreams etched on small faces echoed back to me from an old 1800’s classroom wall in the dry harsh and arid Atacama Desert of North Chile.

I leave my pictures to tell the story.

Ian

The Main entrance to The Humberstone School
A Solitary Sepia picture, a stark view into the harsh Schooling days of Humberstone School in the 1800’s
The Childrens Playground, Shelter from the searing heat of the Atacama Desert, a Basketball hoop to the left.

The Corridor dividing the Classrooms, wooden framework with students desks to be seen on ether side.

Many a small mind was shaped behind these desks, imagery would like to think their lives went on to become fruitful, maybe Doctors or Scientists whose future helped to further Medicine and ScienceA Teachers desk and Chalkboard. The ingredients to lead to a future of Dreams and Ambitions. The empty desks of Vacant Ghosts of Memories I love this picture, a Bus etched on the school desk lid, probably depicting the dreams of escape, dreams of hopes and Ambitions of a young mind Who cannot remember the Childhood romances, a heart enshrined with two names scratched on a desk top showing their love. I hope RG and S went on to follow their Dreams  I trust you have enjoyed this tour into the History of the old Humberstone School of the 1800’s. An era of early Education, and one which I don’t think I would have survived as a Teacher.

 
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Posted by on December 3, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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San Antonio Chile-A Nostalgic Memory

Continuing our adventures in Chile, I would like to share this memorable excursion to the coastal port of San Antonio, a distance of 113.9 kilometres from Santiago that by road is one hour and twenty one minutes. However a little background before I continue with my story.

Our adventures to Chile are always planned in a limited compact way, probably a bit different from normal tourists itinerary planning. I am fortunate that my wife being Chilean has a great knowledge of her country. To set the ball rolling, we select the Capital city as our Base camp, we book accommodation for the complete duration of our stay. From there the day’s dawning welcomes us to another adventure, knowing every day is an adventure in Chile, our second visit in 2015, saw us spend five days in the amazing world down south in the Patagonian region, and from there we returned to our base in Santiago and then moved on for a number of days to the beautiful city of Valparaiso, always returning to our Base camp, to recuperate and prepare for further explorations. In this year 2017 we made arrangements for a week in Iquique, staying there for five days we branched out on further day excursions, such as Humberstone, not as an organized tourist venture, but purely freelancing by car due to the fact that our Niece was the Tour guide and driver. Tour guides are great, they sell you the whole story, show you what they know tourists want to see, that is the package deal in most countries.

I found one secret in travelling in foreign countries, even back in my Vietnam days and New Guinea experience, always listen to the locals, they will tell you story’s and direct you to places that don’t appear as tourist attractions, their secrets will lead you directly into their culture and lifestyle. Such a place was San Antonio.

With Ana’s knowledge and research she found a day’s excursion to San Antonio, but an excursion with a difference, instead of by car in one hour, we were travelling by train for three hours. An unforgettable experience, the train was a reconditioned wooden steam train from the early 1920’s, Saloon Cars and Dining Car, Conductors in each carriage, we chose the Dining Car, tables fitted to the floor, Chairs that could be moved, Gaslight fittings overhead ( converted to electricity for modern necessity ), Brass overhead luggage racks, Gold tasseled drapes that curved around the wooden windows, I loved these windows, you raised the wooden window high and waited for a wooden stopper to drop, securing the window. This whole scenario made me feel like I was sitting in a train in a Western movie scene.

The train rattled and rolled through the outlying towns of Santiago, houses changing in style from rural rich Casa’s, to the poorer style of the rural fringe dwellers. Soon we were viewing the vast panorama of fruit and vegetable countryside that fed the local markets and Santiago. Twisting and turning, slow speed in some areas, vast drops to one side before we passed through one of the number of old stone tunnels leading into San Antonio. Food and drink was provided on the journey from the Galley attached to the Dining Car, sandwiches and coffee and cold drinks for modern convenience, entertainment was provided by a roving Guitar player, who seemed to stir the emotions of the Chilean passengers. I was enjoying the games in my imagination of what the train ride and food would have been in the old elegant days, Crockery and Glasses of the finest, food that would proudly grace the tables of any modern restaurant.

We started this journey at 9.30 in the morning and returned to Santiago station at 9.30 at night. This is the outline of that adventure, below in my pictures I will share with you the beautiful scenes from San Antonio, a noted port harbor city in Chile that doesn’t rate highly on the Tourist list of visits, but to those with a discerning eye, and those who heed the words of the locals, it is an experience you won’t forget.

Cheers

Emu

Modern well maintained Trains departing and arriving at Santiago StationOur Train from a bygone era awaits, Conductors on hand to help passengers aboard, with the small footstool on the platform as an aid The Wooden Windows and the Gold tasseled curtains evoke an emotion of elegance in times of long ago A Dining Saloon that could be considered fit for Royalty or Dignitaries Chairs that can be moved for comfort, still in original condition.The Saloon CarOn board Entertainment, a roving Guitar player whose infectious nature, soon had the entire Dining Car singing in accord.The Promenade along the San Antonio Coastline I love this picture, it was great to see the Pelicans waiting around the shoreline for remnants of the days fishing, but more captivating was to see the two Sea lions resting among them. Sea Lions known as Sea Wolves or Loberia in Spanish, hope I got that right. A Seafood Lovers delight to wander through the market here. One of my favourite Seafoods After looking at all that Seafood it was time to tease the tastebuds, I am not sure what happened with my camera at this stage, it seems to have converted to Sepia somehow  Restaurant entertainment, great Chilean music which one of our party, A Mapuchee Indian Girl was successful in getting me to dance to. Darth Vader in a threatening mode until I pointed out I was recording our encounter, thankfully we departed friends. The Vampire of San Antonio. Now in all my travels I love the artistry of the street entertainers, I have photographed quite a number, but this artist put me on high alert immediately, for a start he was seated on a wall well away from the normal tourist thoroughfare, I wandered into this part of the street out of my curiosity, I offered 1000 Pesos to take his picture, that price is the usual price depending on their artistry. I took the picture and thanked him, as I was walking away from this quite empty tourist part of the street, I heard a voice in plain English asking if I would like my picture taken with the Vampire. My sixth sense came to the fore, intuition from my Vietnam days became alert. I politely declined and at that moment Ana came around the corner, she took the following picture, the Gentleman offering to take my picture had disappeared. I hope I was wrong in my assumption because these artists put a lot of effort into their presentation. I couldn’t help recalling cases of strangers offering to take your picture then disappearing with your camera. Much like a Vampire with a flapping of wings

Not a Modern Station and not a Modern Train, the whistle blows, steam is up as we bid farewell to San Antonio, a great little secret along the coast of Chile.Cheers Emu

 

 
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Posted by on November 28, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Humberstone Mining Town Outdoor Exhibits

This is my last post on Humberstone Mining Town, I think I have pretty well exhausted the story on this Topic, commendations to those readers who have taken the time to visit, enjoy and comment. Sometimes my enthusiasm get’s a little carried away, and I try to share too much and too fast. The following picture are of the outdoor display of engineering equipment used back in the late 1800’s in the pursuit of that underground Gold at the time, Sodium Nitrate. In my next story I will take you on an adventure to a seaside town, 100 kilometres north of Santiago, a town called San Antonio, however an adventure with a difference, we take an old early 1900’s train, complete with embroidered gold tasseled curtains, wooden windows, a Dining Car and Saloon Car, something you may have seen in an old Western movie or maybe an Agatha Christie story, this experience is really a step back in time.

Here in San Antonio you will enjoy the markets, stalls and culinary delights of a beautiful captivating town, I will share with you my meeting with Darth Vader, and also, a true encounter with a real live Vampire, a Vampire that stalks the streets of San Antonio, his appearance and disappearances are at whim, fortunately my camera functioned at the right moment.

Hope you enjoy.

Cheers

Emu

 
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Posted by on November 25, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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