Returned to Australia following my third excursion to Chile, a memorable visit that had many twists and turns, the itinerary of destinations was changed a number of times, but replaced with spontaneous destinations that proved just as interesting and informative as those previously planned.
Unfortunately I did not receive the welcoming to Chile that I had received on previous visits, I appeared on the radar for Border Security, which saw both Ana and I being held for investigation for three hours. So as an introduction to my adventures in Chile, I must begin at the touchdown at Santiago airport, an ominous beginning that didn’t forebode well for an anticipated Seven weeks adventure.
I have titled this post,
THE BORDER SECURITY STING
Australia does not have reciprocal rights with Chile, as far as paying an entrance fee to that country; I pay an entrance fee every visit. I came armed with the appropriate American dollars and fronted one of the teller cages where your entry fee is paid and your passport stamped, that done we proceeded to the actual Border Security checkpoints where our Passports were to be authenticated and approved. Ana presented her passport with no problems; she has a Canadian passport and has reciprocal rights with Chile. I presented my passport to the young Border Security girl, she glanced at my picture in the passport and then me, she looked at the computer screen for a moment, then that sinking feeling in the bottom of my stomach began to churn, she looked at me again and my passport and the computer screen, said something to Ana and disappeared, apparently she needed to speak to her supervisor. We waited and waited, I could see the girl in the supervisors office talking, next I saw two more supervisors join the group, all the while talking and pointing in our direction, that sinking feeling was going from bad to worse. The four of them then moved out into the general passenger area, still talking and pointing, they came back to where we were waiting and asked us when we paid my entry fee and how did we pay it, Ana told them how we paid it and when we paid it, over an hour ago by this time, I was getting frustrated not knowing what the whole scenario was about, it was then translated to me that the entry fee was stamped as being paid by credit card and the actual date of payment wasn’t clear, that’s when I smelt a rat, I told them to go and check the camera’s and the stamp the girl had endorsed in my passport. The four of the Border Security personnel moved back into the general area, this time it became evident there were two Carabinierie ( Police ) standing discretely behind them. After another long wait I saw the young girl who we paid our entry fee too, approach the group and hand over some paperwork.
To cut a long story short, we were then escorted to an interview room where we were asked to give a signed statement of all that had occurred since our arrival regarding the entry fee fiasco. Finally three hours later we were free to go, the girl had apparently been pocketing the entry fee and stamping the passports as having been paid by credit card. Apparently she was sacked immediately and later taken away by the police to be charged with theft and fraud, only later in Australia Ana explained to me that Border Security knew this was going on, and could only carry out the sting when an unsuspecting traveler from a non reciprocal country fell for the scam, and my entry was the spring that sprung the sting.
Well after that introduction to Chile you would think that things couldn’t get worse, well it still didn’t run smoothly, arriving out our rented unit on a second floor of a high-rise apartment complex, we found ourselves stranded on the outdoor balcony for another few hours calling for help, cold and miserable we were finally liberated. The next two and a half weeks I will skip over, suffice to say both Ana and I were housebound through flu like symptoms, which I suspect we had taken with us from Australia.
Feeling in great health we laughed over the start to our holiday and decided to begin our adventures anew.
I have titled this post
THE WATER CANNON
The next day we had to go to the Costa Nera Centre to change Australian money into Pesos, The Costa Nera Centre is 42 floors high and the highest building in South America. The ride there is about 20 minutes in a taxi. Money exchanged we hailed a taxi home, the ride started to take longer than normal, traffic was slow and at times at a standstill, I noticed after a while, people deciding to get off buses and out of taxis to walk, we decided to do the same as we were nearing our apartment. We started walking and turned the corner, way up ahead at our intersection I noticed flashing lights and traffic at a standstill, thinking an accident we kept walking to the corner, suddenly there was a lot of noise and students running everywhere, we realized we had come across a student protest, apparently protesting about the Pinochet military regime that was in place long before these students were born.
At the intersection we had our backs to a wall when all of a sudden a large group of students started running towards us, they were running from the Carabinierie, it wasn’t the students running towards us that worried me, it was what was following them, the massive Police civil disturbance water cannon vehicle. I watched as the cannon on top of the turret started to swivel, again I got that sinking feeling in my stomach as it stopped directly in our direction, then it opened fire, I am 6 feet tall and would be a perfect target but thankfully it was aiming at the student’s feet. Apart from the overflow of water we successfully crossed the street and made it home, slightly nervous but safe. Riots in third world countries are not a thing to get involved in. Thankfully I didn’t have my camera with me at the time as these countries do not like being portrayed in political bad light.
So dear readers that was the first three weeks in Chile this year, there is always a vibrancy of this country, the country resonates with this vibrancy, as though the very air and land vibrates with movement, which in the case of tremors is very real, having experienced my first up north in Valparaiso.
Our adventures did improve after the dismal beginning. In forthcoming posts I will give you entertaining and colorful insights into the Northern parts of Chile.
Kind regards and Best wishes.
I look forward to catching up with my Friends sites on Word Press.
Greetings Word Press Family and followers.
I have not been on Word Press over the last twelve months as much as I would like, I have spent my time going through the revolving doors of the Medical profession and all their allied services, Cystoscopy, Colonoscopy, Gastroscopy and every other oscopy you can think of, including words that end in Ology and Opsy, The last one was a Cardiologist for an Angiogram, I have been dissected, trisected, distracted and extracted. Well the end results after playing the gourmet platter for the Medical profession, has given me a clean bill of health, and appears I still have another 50 years of living, including paying taxes to a Government whose policies I don’t believe in.
Anyway, to celebrate the rebirth of my health, Ana and I are leaving for our annual trip to Chile South America for seven weeks, leaving this coming Wednesday. Last year our adventure included the Hanging Glacier and one of the last Continental Ice Shelves of the Patagonian region down south of Chile. This time we are going up north to witness one of Chile’s great wonders, the flowering of the great Atacama Desert in all its beautiful colours. Also included in this trip is a ride on an 1800’s train that resembles the train out of Agatha Christies, Murder on the Orient Express. Somewhere in the seven weeks we are going to be visiting places such as Iquiqui, Antofagasta, and Temuco, the city of the beautiful Spiritual Mapuchee Indians.
Kind regards and Best wishes to all my Friends and Followers, If I have missed any of your posts, or failed to read and comment, I apologise, I look forward to returning and catching up on all your diverse, entertaining and colourful posts, all when combined, create a kaleidoscope of your lives, a virtual Book of Life.
My kindest regards
Ian aka Emu
Dear Diary, this is my first and last entry, allow me to explain dear diary, it has been over ten years since I was first incarcerated in this state government establishment for those suffering from, what I call, a deformity of the mind, why write now you ask, today I was given a pair of glasses for the first time in ten years, nothing expensive mind you, just the basic design for those who belong to the destitute of a welfare society, now I can read and write, ironic as tomorrow I am deemed secure enough to be released back into society, why am I here and how did I become a guest of this mental establishment I will tell you. I have the need to now write the true story as I recall of myself, Pierre XXXX. A story to be recorded in the chronicles of times for future generations, and for those who believe that time travel is possible, and also for those who believe that Love can definitely cross all bounds and emotions of the Heart.
To those who have found this document and are reading these words, I will tell you a story that you will find unbelievable beyond comprehension, a story that you may well believe, is deserving of my incarceration in this institution for the mentally insane, the habitat for those whose minds wander from the norm, into a world of unexplained abnormality of the senses, a world where the demons of the night find haven, in the quiet slumbering of the weak minds of those who rest in the childish world of peaceful dreams.
My story begins in the mid 1800’s, the specifics of the year are irrelevant at this time, I was employed as a Valet for one Mister G E Burnes, Burnes was a noted aristocrat at that time, having made his fortune in designing reading glasses in the newly discovered mystery world of ophthalmology, his glasses became an instant hit with the bourgeois of society at that time, his glasses, particularly the scissors glasses were the usual preference for those who still favored the wearing of wigs at that time, but enough of his trade background. Barnes lived in a large mansion on the outskirts of London, where he resided happily with his wife and beautiful daughter; it was into that background that I was employed as a Valet to Mister Burnes. It was that very day of my employment that the torment of my eternal heart began, and was to pursue me for generations and lifetimes to come.
My Heart was smitten, the moment my eyes first cast their glance upon the unbelievable sight before me, let me digress dear reader, and paint as best I can, this beautiful Queen of Angels who stood before me, their daughter Caroline. Caroline was only eighteen, very animated with a charming countenance. Sparkling bold blue eyes, long raven black hair, a very delicate girl with the lines of her body clearly defined. If I had to paint the Goddess of man’s dreams, it would be that fair Caroline. The only fault I could perceive in the artistry of this Goddess was a slight limp of one leg, later I was to find that this was a defect from birth, in my eyes this slight defect faded into insignificance. I was twenty three at this time, of average looks, dark black hair and stood about six feet in stockings, not unattractive but would not stand out in a crowd. My attentions were soon reciprocated, a bond of the hearts soon developed, our love was discreet and lasted for two years, we spoke of undying and eternal love, we swore we would be forever as one. Alas the Gods worked against us, her father had promised her to another, a gentleman of the nobility, one who came with a vast dowry, I begged my Caroline to run away with me, to remember her vows of eternal love, all to no avail, her loyalty to her father’s ambitions overruled our love, he was to profit financially and prestige wise through this arranged marriage, my heart was rent asunder, the tears were constant.
A week after Caroline told me our love could never be, the time for her departure to London to join her new husband arrived, She was leaving on the eight Pm tram trolley, that final day has been etched on my heart ever since, I tried to maintain my decorum within the household of Burnes, I avoided Caroline at every corner. That night I waited in the twilight mist of the gaslights, the lights of the trolley came into view as I emerged from the shadows, into each other’s arms we ran, the tears flowed freely as I swore to Caroline that I would search the world over, her love was mine alone, on bended knee I begged, as such I remained, as the gas lights of the trolley disappeared into the mists of the nighttime drizzling rain.
The house of Burnes became intolerable, the excitement of my everyday tasks became burdensome, without the prospect of seeing Caroline the days dragged by with the silence of a cemetery at dusk, I saw Caroline in every corner of the house, and in every corner of my mind. I tendered my resignation to Burnes and left his employ, the next day I left for London with one purpose in mind, the pursuit of the only flame that ignited the love within my heart.
I took up residence at a small decrepit house off White chapel road, an abode rented by an equally old decrepit landlord, I paid from the small amount of severance pay granted to me by my old employer Burnes, the need for gainful employment was urgent, I soon found employment as a Jewellers apprentice with an elderly gentleman by the name of Thomas Gray, his retail outlet being located off Two Brewers Lane. For ten years Gray took me under his wing and taught me the fine art of jewellery making and design, during this time my mind never wavered from thoughts of finding Caroline, days were spent making jewellery, whilst my nights were occupied in the never ending search for Caroline, I frequented all the best restaurants, the best operas and every beaurocratic or regal balls and occasions, in searching for any clue as to her whereabouts, all to no avail, till one night chance smiled in my favour.
My mentor, Thomas Gray was to host a formal dinner for some of the highest dignitaries of London at that time, as a loyal and trusted employee I was requested to attend, punctually at seven I found myself seated next to a gentleman by the name of Dickens. During the course of the evening I discovered Mister Dickens was an upcoming and distinguished Writer, a writer whose works were being published in all the notable newspapers of the time, he was writing on the subjects of the conditions of the working class in England, and the inequality of the standards of living. As the evening progressed, Dickens took an interest in the story of my search for Caroline, he expressed an interest in supporting my endeavours to the extent he would make inquiries, he assured me that he had a young colleague by the name of Arthur Dodger, who knew the streets and the whereabouts of the residences of all the noted peoples of London, we parted with a new found friendship and a promise of details of his inquiries to follow in a few days time.
Dickens was punctual in his response of assistance, two days later I answered the door to a young sprightly youth who gave his name as Arty Dodger, taking the gold coin I gave to him, he passed a sealed envelope into my hand, with a wink and a thank you Governor, he disappeared into the night life of London’s streets and byways. The envelope contained the very information that I had been seeking for ten long years, it gave Caroline’s address and title, she was known as Lady Caroline Dyke, having married Sir Thomas Dyke, a Lord of Parliament after leaving her father’s home many years ago, it also stated that Lady Caroline was to attend the Governors Ball the following weekend. I was once again to see the very love of my heart.
With support from my employer Mister Gray, I was able to receive an invitation to the ball, I did not want to arrive early but made my presence known approximately half way through the evening, in the shadows of the columns of the ballroom I was able to survey the dance floor, to the strains of Strauss I saw my beloved waltz across the floor in the arms of a tall distinguished gentleman. My heart was crying and my eyes began to water, she was as lovely as I remember, her beauty was divine, her blue eyes shone with the sparkles of a thousand stars, I watched her waltz with elegant grace, the lameness in her leg could not be discerned in the regal movements of her waltz, having described my first meeting with my beloved after so many years, it would be improper for me to not mention one small flaw in her beauty, she had aged yes, the pallor of her skin had taken on a very white hue, a colour that rouge could not hide, apart from that my beloved still held my mesmerized heart in her hands. Thrice she circled the floor, and once I saw a glimmer of recognition in her eyes as she espied me as she waltzed by, I had to speak to her, I had to renew my vows of eternal love, I waited for a break when the music ceased for supper, it was then I was able to approach and speak to her alone, the most exquisite moment in my heart exploded with an eruption of all the pent up emotions of love that man can ever imagine to hold.
To be continued.
Having posted a number of times of my travels and adventures overseas, particularly Chile South America, I have made a point of talking on my pleasure of taking photographs of everything that appears before my lens, now in a lot of countries, Chile included, one must be very careful what is photographed, Government buildings, certain local cultural traits and many other situations a tourist may come across, such as local social disharmony. I must admit I have surreptitiously taken some of these types of photographs but keep them for personal records. But in this post I want to share with you the extent of my pleasures in exploring a city in depth, in this case the beautiful harbor port of Valparaiso. Looking through my pictures from last year’s adventure, I realized just how much territory I had covered. Now in a foreign city, and especially one as beautiful and flamboyant as Valparaiso, there is not a back street, a building or monument that I must see, in Valparaiso some of the streets are way off the tourist trail, and it is vital that you are accompanied by a local, in one of our late evening tours into the back streets high in the hills of Valparaiso, we were fortunate to have a family member as our driver, even so we found it quite uncomfortable, an unknown car in a local street does appear out of the normal and does draw attention. One doesn’t stop. But back to my story, I love photographing everything I see and also revisit the same places again for two reasons, one being to capture what I missed in the first visit, and secondly to hope my photographic skills have improved. Now in these two following pictures I will demonstrate the coincidental diversity of my touring around Valparaiso.
The first picture was taken high from the top one of the 43 hills that surrounds the Valparaiso harbor. It was New Years Eve 2015, we were guests of a family friend of Ana’s, the evening was predicted to be a spectacular event, The Valparaiso New Years Fireworks, these fireworks are renowned as the most spectacular in the world, and they were no disappointment, people actually move up into the hills for the display, the whole coastline erupts at midnight into one massive display of colourful fireworks right along the coastline that goes for miles, synchronized and spectacular. But I am definitely straying from the story line of this post. It was early afternoon that I took some photographs of the great Valparaiso from our friends house overlooking the harbor, I focused on the Chilean Parliament house in Central Valparaiso, the first picture, as you will see in comparison to all the other high rise buildings around it, we were extremely high up in the hills. Now to the comparison with my other picture, the second one. This was taken on a boat trip around the harbor, I photographed from every angle, and now looking over my pictures, I notice that I have again taken the picture of Parliament House from the seaward side. Looking back, that is quite a distance from the hills of Valparaiso to Parliament House, and also quite a distance from the Sea to Parliament House, I have inadvertently photographed both the front and back of Parliament House. Such are the joys of exploring a beautiful overseas City. In two trips to Valparaiso I have covered much ground and look forward to revisiting later this year. I have not yet earned the title of a Local, but still remain a Gringo for the time being.Click on the pics to enlarge.
One of the pleasures when travelling in different countries, is photographing certain moments and times to cherish in later perusal of pictures that are taken, apart from the customary Selfies, I also like taking pictures of Statues or Monuments in foreign countries, these Statues or Monuments are obviously of great importance to the country, some are erected for moments of importance in the Country’s evolution, others are commemorating great achievements or great tragedy’s, some honour people who have made great impact in the formation of that particular Country. This particular Monument is found in Valparaiso Chile. The first picture was photographed in 2009, you will notice behind the monument, a vast number of tall buildings in the background, now in comparison, with the efforts of my Chilean Senorita Ana, she has discovered pictures of the same monument that dates back to the late 1800’s. In one of these pictures you will notice the ocean is right up to the shore behind the monument, with various ships laying at anchor off shore. This gives a good comparison as how far the sea had receded over 100 years from the coastline of Valparaiso, those buildings behind the photograph I have taken in 2009 are off multi story height. Even today that beautiful old harbour is not safe from Earthquakes or Tsunamis, the city of Valparaiso has Tsunami evacuation route signs throughout the city, since my first visit in 2009, the coastline was extremely damaged by a major Tsunami. Chile is a beautiful country to visit and live in, however one must remember that Mother Nature is continuously painting her Landscape, her mind can be fickle at any time.
The Arco Britanico (Spanish for British Arch) is a monument on Avenida Brasil, in Valparaíso, Chile. It was donated to the town in 1910 by the British community there to mark the centenary of the Independence of Chile. Designed by the Chilean architect Alfredo Azancot, the arch was unveiled in 1911.
The monument, covered in marble brought from Italy, is surmounted by a British Victorian lion and is decorated with the images of four Britons who participated in the Chilean War of Independence: Thomas Cochrane, Bernardo O’Higgins, Robert Simpson and Jorge O’Brien. It also bears the Chilean and United Kingdom coats of arms.