The Heartbreak of Valparaiso

17 Apr

 photo IMG_4938_zps980a008a.jpgThe following story was published in todays local paper, its titled,The Heartbreak of Valparaiso, I rather think of it as Ana,s Story.

To refresh the readers mind, my wife Ana was born in Valparaiso Chile,we married in the beautiful harbour port of Valparaiso when I spent a few months over there back in 2009.

Chile is renowned for its earthquakes, however raging fires are not uncommon.

The grand city of Valparaiso is built on the the coast and was a major shipping route in the 18th century, its harbour being dotted with three masted schooners from many nations.

The hills surrounding the port are dotted with many colourful homes that have developed a style and culture of their own.

I give you Ana,s story, or as published, The Heartbreak of Valparaiso.

CHILEAN-born national and now Mildura resident Ana Cristina Corvalyn Lyng Felton has told some heart-breaking stories of repeated natural disasters in her birth city of Valparaiso in the wake of the latest fire that has claimed at least 15 lives and destroyed more than 2000 homes.

Ana said that because of the way most of hilly Valpariaso has been settled, squatter-style, fire had always been its biggest threat, although it had also been hit by earthquakes.

She still has family there, and thankfully they are out of harm’s way, but the fire that has been raging out of control this week has claimed many lives, left 8000 people homeless and continues to threaten much of this Pacific Ocean seaport of 255,000, just 70 kilometres from the capital Santiago.

Ana described this week’s fire as the worst in recent history, but the worst ever was in 1953, when a massive explosion and fire claimed the lives of 32 volunteer firemen, as well as other civilian life.

Ana, 64, married in 1971 and left Valparaiso in 1973, before the military coup, but , but has been back several times to visit family and friends, with her most recent trip being last year, when she had an extended three-month holiday.

If anything, she says, the problem of haphazard prefabricated illegal housing on the 42 hills of the city is getting worse, putting much of the city under threat. The problem is exacerbated by the wooden and corrugated iron shacks, lack of water or sewer connections, no fire hydrants and streets too narrow for emergency vehicles.

Chile’s armed services have been called in to help, as helicopters and fixed wing aircraft continue to dump millions of litres of water on the firefront and smouldering ruins of whole neighbourhoods.

Ana said the problem is also made worse because of the strong gusty winds which are a regular weather feature of Valparaiso. Firefighters have already described the raging inferno in some neighbourhoods as creating their own winds, further adding to the problem. Experts have estimated it could take up to three weeks to bring the fires under control.

The city is under military rule as 5000 firefighters, police, forest rangers, soldiers, sailors and civil defence workers joined forces to fight the fires. All vehicles with the exception of emergency vehicles have been banned from streets leading to the worst-affected areas of this world heritage-listed region.

Ana, now married to Mildura’s Ian Felton and a Mildura resident for the past four years, said she has been keeping in touch with family and friends via social media.

“Thankfully, they are well away from the danger areas, but the situation for many people is heartbreaking,” she said. “These people have nowhere else to go. Up in the hills was the only place they could afford to build, they live in the most basic shanties in primitive conditions with lack of proper facilities, but it’s the only life they know.”

Born and raised in Valparaiso, Ana married and left Chile with her Canadian-born husband just 10 days before the 1973 coup that brought the leader of the military junta, Augusto Pinochet, to power. She lived in Canada until 1992, helping her husband build up a successful construction business in California and Canada before they divorced.

Ana, by now fluent in Spanish, French, Italian and English – and with a good grasp of Porteguse, took the opportunity to travel the world, spending time in North and South America, Eusope, Africa, the Caribbean, Thailand and Malaysia before meeting Ian through a close friend via the social media, leading to Ian’s first visit to Chile in 2009, and their subsequent wedding. Ian spent almost four months in Valparaiso, and has many fond memories of the colourful city, and its Bohemian-style ‘army’ of artists, painters and writers.

They have since made their home in Mildura, travel to some interesting and exciting in Victoria and interstate, but Ana said that should anything happen to Ian she would have no hesitation in packing up and returning to her country of birth.

In the meantime she will continue hoping and praying for the safety of the residents of Valparaiso in the wake of yet another modern-day natural disaster.

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Posted by on April 17, 2014 in Uncategorized


38 responses to “The Heartbreak of Valparaiso

  1. auntyuta

    April 22, 2014 at 7:56 am

    Hi Ian! You may want to have a look at this news item:
    Gerard Oosterman published it in his blog.
    Regards, Auntyuta

    • The Emu

      April 22, 2014 at 12:11 pm

      Thanks Auntyuta, checked it out and its the same as we see here on Chilean news.
      Ana keeps up to date and sees the Chilean news on the computer.
      Wishing you both well.
      Ian aka Emu

      • auntyuta

        April 22, 2014 at 7:48 pm

        Wishing you both well too, Ian. Peter always keeps up to date with the German news. He finds a lot on the computer. We also try to watch every day the German news on SBS.

        • auntyuta

          April 22, 2014 at 7:55 pm

          BBC News, Mexico City


          Although it was a memorial ceremony, this wasn’t just a solemn occasion. Outside the Palace of Fine Arts in Mexico City, thousands of fans of Garcia Marquez waited patiently to pay their respects.

          Some held yellow roses, others clutched copies of his books. Around the palace there was music, Colombian flags, book readings and smiles. Perhaps because he’d left so much for his loyal readers to enjoy after he’d gone, saying goodbye to “El Gabo” didn’t have to be a sad day. Rather many had come to say “thank you for everything”.

          Is Ana a fan of his?

          • The Emu

            April 27, 2014 at 12:01 am

            Thanks for that info Auntyuta, yes Ana is a great fan of his and his books.
            From Colombia and settled in Mexico, she really is an avid fan of his writings.
            He lived to a good age and was a great man in South America.
            Have a great Sunday, warm and sunny up here in Mildura.

          • auntyuta

            April 27, 2014 at 12:39 pm

            We went to Sydney today and got caught in the rain. But we could see Caroline and Matthew, which was good. Went back home on the train, arriving home at 7,30 pm and watched ‘Parer’s War’ from 8,30 pm on on ABC TV. WW II, Australians and Americans fighting in New Guinea. Very moving pictures of the war on top of a heartbreaking love story back home in Australia.

          • The Emu

            May 2, 2014 at 11:41 am

            Hi Auntyuta, I am very late in replying to comments.
            Good that you got to see Caroline and Matthew, even if it was a wet occassion.
            I regret I still have not seen Parers War which I really want too, the last week has been busy.
            I need to get Ana to download it for me, in my later years in the army, I wanted to be a war correspondent and photographer.
            A dream that didnt eventuate.
            Kind regards

          • auntyuta

            May 2, 2014 at 8:57 pm

            Thanks, Ian, for all the likes you gave me. To be a war correspondent as well as a photographer can be mighty dangerous. Parer’s War – not for the faint-hearted!

          • The Emu

            May 7, 2014 at 7:57 am

            Hi Auntyuta, we missed Parers War on the TV and tried to download it.
            It is too early after being screened to download it, but its on our download list.
            Regards to you both.

  2. Sue Dreamwalker

    April 21, 2014 at 4:55 pm

    I am so pleased Ian that Ana’s family is safe.. I saw this on the News it must have been horrendous to watch your town be engulfed in flames… .. Thank you Ian for sharing this story… My thoughts were and are sent out to all those caught up in this.. .. Love and Blessings to you both xox

    • The Emu

      April 22, 2014 at 1:03 pm

      Hi Sue, all Ana’s family is safe, it was sad to see the fires circling Valparaiso, and remembering our marriage there in 2009. Chile is prone mainly to earthquakes due to its geographical location in the earthquake belt, but Valparaiso is also prone to fires due to it being a harbour port and the numerous hill surrounding the port, are covered with houses.
      We are hoping to return for a visit later this year.
      All the best Sue.
      Ian aka Emu

  3. Mélanie

    April 21, 2014 at 2:04 pm

    Hi Ian and thanx for this emotional post… such a human tragedy that I did follow from the beginning as several French cargo planes have taken off from Toulouse to Valparaiso these past days… I did think of your Anna, believe me, as I don’t know anyone else in Chile… courage, peace and hope! Mélanie NB – Toulouse, France

    • The Emu

      April 22, 2014 at 12:36 pm

      Hi Melanie, thanks for your considerate comment,Ana and I were married in Valparaiso in 2009, its a beautiful colonial city that was a major sea going port back in the 1800s, it has a touch of all cultures in its architecture, British French German and others.
      All of Chile is prone to tremors every day with spasmodic violent earthquakes, Valparaiso is also subjected to fires as the houses outside of the harbour area are all up in the many hills that encircle the port.
      We are hoping to go back later this year for a visit.
      Kind regards
      Ian aka Emu

  4. auntyuta

    April 21, 2014 at 11:22 am

    So glad that Ana’s family is safe, Ian. But these fires look indeed quite horrible.
    We had a lovely Easter with family. Hope you and Ana had a good Easter too. I can understand Ana’s worry about these natural disasters in her home town.
    Sincerely, Aunty Uta and Peter.

    • The Emu

      April 21, 2014 at 12:15 pm

      Hi Auntyuta, thank you for your considerate comment.
      Ana,s family are all safe considering they have had fires and earthquakes all within a matter of weeks.
      Fires and earthquakes are part of life in Chile, this being because it is situated on the geographical earthquake fault.
      We are hoping to return later this year for a holiday.
      Our Easter was quiet and a lovely warm weather, but the nights are getting cold.
      Lovely to hear you and Peter had a pleasurable Easter with family.
      Ian aka Emu

  5. natswans

    April 20, 2014 at 11:48 am

    What a shame yet another earthquake, looks terrifying. Those poor people.
    Thank you for sharing your story Ian.
    Enjoy your Easter 🙂

    • The Emu

      April 21, 2014 at 11:15 am

      Hi Sheila, yes it is a sad story, we are going back to Chile later this year for a holiday.
      Chile is a vulnerable country with fires and earthquakes, it is situated on the earthquake prone belt.
      They have tremors every day which they accept as a fact of life.
      But it is a beautiful old country.
      Emu aka Ian

  6. michiko

    April 19, 2014 at 10:33 pm

    These day of news papir and TV are so much bad things! I would like to Wishing a beautiful Easter my friend!

    • The Emu

      April 21, 2014 at 10:42 am

      Hi Michiko, I agree with you, there is nothing but bad news in the papers or on TV,
      I hope you had a great Easter my friend,a happy and enjoyable one.
      Wishing you many blessings Michiko.
      Emu aka Ian

  7. gpcox

    April 19, 2014 at 10:45 am

    Good reporting, Ian.

    • The Emu

      April 21, 2014 at 10:45 am

      Thanks my friend.
      I think the reporter did a good job on Ana,s story.
      We are going back to Chile later this year for a holiday.
      Chile is prone to earthquakes, due to its geological situation in the earthquake belt.
      Emu aka Ian

      • gpcox

        April 22, 2014 at 9:45 am

        Soooo……you’re going back on purpose? O_o

        • The Emu

          April 22, 2014 at 11:59 am

          Got married in Valparaiso mate, beautiful country
          Want to do some more trekking up in the Cordillera del los Andes.
          Want to visit Rapa Nui (Easter Island) and Juan Fernandez island (Treasure island)
          Just hope theres no major earthquakes while We are there, although there are tremors every day.
          Emu aka Ian

          • gpcox

            April 22, 2014 at 12:01 pm

            NOW, I understand! And, NOW I’m jealous!

          • The Emu

            April 22, 2014 at 12:48 pm

            Love travelling, exploring and adventures mate.
            Also do a bit of amateur Aboriginal archaeology.
            Getting a bit old now as the bones are starting to creak.
            But I want to keep going as fast as I can, somewhere in there is also a return to Lon Son island
            A little island off the coast of South Vietnam that I lived on in 1971.
            Ian aka Emu

          • gpcox

            April 22, 2014 at 1:22 pm

            You seriously want to go back THERE?

  8. giselzitrone

    April 18, 2014 at 9:33 am

    Ist ja schrecklich alles Brennt,wünsche dir einen schönen Karfreitag,und glückliche schöne Ostertage alles liebe Grüße und Freundschaft.Gislinde

    • The Emu

      April 21, 2014 at 11:52 am

      Es ist eine traurige Geschichte Gislinde, wir hoffen, dass in Chile noch in diesem Jahr für einen Urlaub zurück.
      Chile ist anfällig für Feuer und Erdbeben, wie es auf der geographischen Erdbebengürtel .
      Wir hoffen, dass Sie Ihre Ostern war angenehm und glücklich.
      Mit freundlichen Grüßen.

  9. wonkywizard

    April 18, 2014 at 1:05 am

    I like to read your story, but seems strange to click like, instead of share.

    • The Emu

      April 18, 2014 at 12:19 pm

      Thanks for the visit my friend and taking the time to read my story.
      I agree with you that there should be a share button, but the only way to share anything
      is to press reblog.
      Wishing you a beautiful Easter my friend.
      Emu aka Ian

  10. penpusherpen

    April 17, 2014 at 3:15 pm

    I add my prayers to yours and Ana’s, Ian, such a terrible disaster, which seems almost insurmountable. Hopefully they will gain control, though Mother Nature is ever the uncaring soul. Many thanks for sharing Ana’s story too, it underlines so much more, the tragedy, somehow, bringing to vibrant life the disasters we see so often, it seems, nowadays in the news. xPenx

    • The Emu

      April 21, 2014 at 11:18 am

      Thanks for the considerate comment on our story Pen.
      We are going back for a holiday later on this year.
      Chile is prone to fires and earthquakes, mainly earthquakes
      as it is situated on the geographical earthquake fault.
      Kind regards
      Emu aka Ian

  11. einfachtilda

    April 17, 2014 at 2:36 pm

    Was für ein schönes Familienfoto, aber das Feuer ist nicht gut.
    Frohe Ostern wünscht ♥ Mathilda

    • The Emu

      April 21, 2014 at 11:55 am

      Vielen Dank für Ihr rücksichts Kommentar Mathilda.
      Ana und ich hoffen, dass in Chile noch in diesem Jahr für einen Urlaub zurück.
      Chile ist anfällig für Feuer und Erdbeben, wie es auf der geographischen Erdbebengürtel .
      Wir hoffen, dass Sie einen großen Spaß Ostern hatte.
      Wir wünschen Ihnen viel Segen.
      Ian aka Emu

  12. prenin

    April 17, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    Bloody Hell Ian That’s shocking!!!! 😮

    We got just one report a few days ago about the fires and nothing since.

    I’m glad Ana’s family are safe though!!! 🙂

    Love and hugs to ya both!!! 🙂


    • The Emu

      April 21, 2014 at 11:34 am

      Hi Prenin, thanks for your considerate comment.
      We are hoping to return to Chile later this year for a holiday.
      That part of South America is prone to fires and earthquakes.
      That being, as it is situated right on the earthquake geographical belt.
      Tremors are a daily occurence over there.

  13. Clowie

    April 17, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    That is tragic. It must be terrifying for the people living there.

    • The Emu

      April 18, 2014 at 12:15 pm

      Thanks for the visit Clowie.
      Yes it is rather traumatic over there in Chile at the moment.
      That country was just getting over its last earthquake.
      But Chile is prone to earthquakes and fires like this.
      Wishing you a beautiful Easter my friend.
      Emu aka Ian


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