ultramarinus – beyond the sea

South America 2013

AFTERTHOUGHT – South America

Before the trip, we have read and heard so much about other travelers’ awful experiences in South America: pickpocket during street events, robbery under gunpoint in broad daylight, caught in gunfire between guerrilla fighters and the military, tricked by dishonest tour operators, frustration over bus and flight delays, bribery demands from border officials, nasty storms in Patagonia, high-altitude sickness on the Andes, travel disruptions caused by violent protests and civil strikes, etc.  However, except for a protest at the border crossing between Bolivia and Argentina, and a 28-hour flight delay in Ushuaia caused by a strike at the Buenos Aires airport, we can hardly recall any notable trouble or dodgy moment during our 3-month journey.  After a few days into the trip, we began to shed off many of our worries, and started to enjoy ourselves in this diverse continent.  We consider ourselves fortunate for meeting many kind people along the way, from honest taxi drivers, environmentally conscious tour guides, encouraging fellow trekkers, young fisherman showing us photos of his catches, skilful and responsible jeep driver, talented musicians on local buses, to a generous driver willing to take us along for an 1.5-hour free ride back to the city.

Many have asked us what was our favourite destination.  This is a question perhaps we can never answer.  There are simply too many lovely memories from almost every stop in our journey.  All these amazing experiences together have become an incredible episode in our lives.

For Argentina, we will always remember the joy of tasting the juicy steaks and irresistible helado (ice-cream) in Buenos Aires, coming face-to-face with the Iguazu Falls on San Martin Island, wine-tasting in the mountains of Cafayate in Northwest Argentina, listening to the rumbling roars of ice carving at Perito Moreno Glacier in Patagonia, upsetting our knees to get a close-up view of the majestic Fitz Roy Mountain near El Chalten, and sailing in the pristine water of the Beagle Channel in Ushuaia.
Argentina

For Brazil, we will never forget the moment we braved the thundering water at Devil’s Throat in Iguaçu National Park, the instant we spotted a magnificent jaguar in the distant bush at the Pantanal, the time we dwelled in the utopian dream of Modernist Brasilia, the evening we wandered aimlessly on the steep and winding streets of Ouro Preto, the hours we stood under the shadow of Christ the Redeemer to share the unbeatable view of marvellous Rio with hundreds of other tourists, the night we spent pacing the flooded cobblestone streets over the splendid reflections of colonial Paraty, and the day we hustled ourselves between cultural institutions and design exhibitions in the hectic metropolis of Sao Paulo.
Brazil

For Bolivia, we will forever cherish our experiences of hiking the Jurassic fern forest near Samaipata, admiring the white colonial architecture of Sucre from the rooftop of Convento de San Felipe Neri, absorbing the tragic history of Cerro Rico while acclimatizing to 4000m high altitude in Potosi, and confronting the Andean volcanoes, surreal deserts, and colour-changing lagoons on the Southwest Altiplano.
Bolivia

For Chile, the vibrant colours of its landscapes and cityscapes will live long in our heart, including the starry night and crimson sunset at the Atacama Desert, the vividly painted facades of the fairytale-like churches on Chiloe Island, the spring palette of wild orchids and glacial lakes in Torres del Paine, the black and white happy feet of Magellanic Penguins in Patagonia, the eye-popping display of some exotic catches-of-the-day at Mercade Central in Santiago, and finally the wonderful show of New Year’s fireworks in Valparaiso.
Chile
Many thanks to all the readers of the Blue Lapis Road.

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DAY 87 (1 OF 1) – NEW YEAR’S FIREWORKS, VALPARAISO, CHILE

Tonight, about a million of locals and visitors gathered in Valparaiso and neighbouring Vina del Mar to watch the largest fireworks display in South America in celebration for the arrival of 2014.   Starting from late morning, people on Cerro Artilleria had already begun to claim their best ocean-facing spots for tonight’s fireworks.  They put chairs, benches, portable tables, and even ropes to mark their temporary territories on the sidewalk.  By midday, vendors at the port were busy cashing in people’s money by selling all sorts of celebration merchandise from party hats to colourful fluorescent bracelets.  Supermarkets were pushing the sales of sparkling wines at their entrances.  We got some groceries and returned to our B&B room to set up our tripods and “snack table” for the night. As night fell upon, myriads of lights were in place of the yellow sunlight illuminating the famous hills of Valparaiso.  But tonight, the starry skyline of the city was a mere backdrop for the most anticipated moment of the year.  Live music from the main square could be heard almost immediately when the sun was down.  Traffic got diverted. Boats kept going in and out of the port. Crowds of people gathered on the main streets, hillside lookouts, apartment balconies, and any public spaces where the sea could be seen.  Upbeat music, laser beams, amateur fireworks, illumination flares continued to lift up the atmosphere of the night.  As time approached, we looked at the time on our laptop and waited patiently by the window with our camera and wineglass in hand.  As the clock struck midnight, the magnificent fireworks display began shooting up high above the city.  We could deeply feel the shake every time the firework exploded in front of us, as if situating in the midst of an air raid. The display lasted for about 25 minutes.  Music was loud and every balconies and roof patios seemed occupied by partying crowds.  We retired to bed at around 4:30am, while our neighbours were still dancing on roof patios under disco lights.  They showed no sign of slowing down.   Valparaiso’s magnificent fireworks display did not only signify the closure of 2013 and the opening of 2014; to us, it also drew an extraordinary conclusion to our three-month journey in South America.  Tomorrow we would be on our way back to the frozen continent of North America.  Under the warm breeze of the Pacific, tonight’s Valparaiso was remarkably bright and beautiful. ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

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Read other posts on Santiago and Valparaiso in 2013 South America:

Day 83.1 – Mercado Central, Santiago
Day 83.2 – Museums & Cultural Centre, Santiago
Day 84.1 – Centro Cultural Palacio la Moneda, Santiago
Day 84.2 – Arrival, Cerro Artilleria, Valparaiso
Day 85.1 – Ascensores, Valparaiso
Day 85.2 – Paella Lunch, Valparaiso
Day 85.3 – Cerros Alegre and Concepcion, Valparaiso
Day 86.1 – Hill of Colours, Valparaiso
Day 86.2 – Trolleybuses, Valparaiso
Day 86.3 – Casa Museo la Sebastiana, Valparaiso
Day 86.4 – Seafood, Valparaiso
Day 87 – New Year’s Fireworks, Valparaiso

The spectacular fireworks conclude our memorable journey to South America in 2013. Click here for the afterthought of our 87-day journey to South America.

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 86 (4 OF 4) – SEAFOOD, VALPARAISO, CHILE

A visit to Valparaiso would not be completed without having a seafood meal. We went to Marisqueria Los Portenos II for an authentic Chilean seafood meal, including boiled clam meat with chopped onions and parsley,crabmeat salad and caldillo de congrio.
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Read other posts on Santiago and Valparaiso in 2013 South America:

Day 83.1 – Mercado Central, Santiago
Day 83.2 – Museums & Cultural Centre, Santiago
Day 84.1 – Centro Cultural Palacio la Moneda, Santiago
Day 84.2 – Arrival, Cerro Artilleria, Valparaiso
Day 85.1 – Ascensores, Valparaiso
Day 85.2 – Paella Lunch, Valparaiso
Day 85.3 – Cerros Alegre and Concepcion, Valparaiso
Day 86.1 – Hill of Colours, Valparaiso
Day 86.2 – Trolleybuses, Valparaiso
Day 86.3 – Casa Museo la Sebastiana, Valparaiso
Day 86.4 – Seafood, Valparaiso
Day 87 – New Year’s Fireworks, Valparaiso


DAY 86 (3 OF 4) – CASA MUSEO LA SEBASTIANA, VALPARAISO, CHILE

The Casa Museo la Sebastiana, the former residence of poet Pablo Neruda, is probably the most popular tourist sight in Valparaiso. Located on Cerro Bellavista, Neruda’s casa offers a fascinating birdeye view of Valparaiso Bay, making it an ideal spot to see the New Year’s Eve firework displays, according to the poet’s own words.

Visiting Casa Sebastiana is like entering the world of Neruda. Neruda loved collecting things. Over the years, he had incorporated his collection of furniture, housewares, antiques, artworks, maps, books, etc. into every corner of the house. Although small, each space in the casa expresses the strong personal taste of the poet, reflecting his sense of humour and his love of the sea.

“A child who does not play is not a child, but the man who does not play has lost forever the child who lived in him.” The living and dining room says it all. The space is richly decorated with paintings and playful toys, including an antique carousel horse brought back from Paris. A curvy fireplace designed by Neruda marks the centre of the space. Open to an unobstructed view of the city and the ocean, this playful space was where Neruda met his guests and friends. Inspired by sea navigation, the study room on the fourth level also reveals the strong character of the late poet. An antique map of the Americas dominates this space, where Neruda spent most of his working time at his study desk.

Unfortunately photography was not allowed inside the casa.  For a peek of the interior, check out their website at http://www.fundacionneruda.org/es/galeria-sebastiana
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Read other posts on Santiago and Valparaiso in 2013 South America:

Day 83.1 – Mercado Central, Santiago
Day 83.2 – Museums & Cultural Centre, Santiago
Day 84.1 – Centro Cultural Palacio la Moneda, Santiago
Day 84.2 – Arrival, Cerro Artilleria, Valparaiso
Day 85.1 – Ascensores, Valparaiso
Day 85.2 – Paella Lunch, Valparaiso
Day 85.3 – Cerros Alegre and Concepcion, Valparaiso
Day 86.1 – Hill of Colours, Valparaiso
Day 86.2 – Trolleybuses, Valparaiso
Day 86.3 – Casa Museo la Sebastiana, Valparaiso
Day 86.4 – Seafood, Valparaiso
Day 87 – New Year’s Fireworks, Valparaiso

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 86 (2 of 4) – TROLLEYBUSES, VALPARAISO, CHILE

Taking the trolleybus in Valparaiso is like traveling back in time.  Many of these trolleybuses still running today belong to the original 1952 fleet, and have become the oldest servicing trolleybuses in the world.  Today, the trolleybuses only run in a loop circuit at the lower part of the city.
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Read other posts on Santiago and Valparaiso in 2013 South America:

Day 83.1 – Mercado Central, Santiago
Day 83.2 – Museums & Cultural Centre, Santiago
Day 84.1 – Centro Cultural Palacio la Moneda, Santiago
Day 84.2 – Arrival, Cerro Artilleria, Valparaiso
Day 85.1 – Ascensores, Valparaiso
Day 85.2 – Paella Lunch, Valparaiso
Day 85.3 – Cerros Alegre and Concepcion, Valparaiso
Day 86.1 – Hill of Colours, Valparaiso
Day 86.2 – Trolleybuses, Valparaiso
Day 86.3 – Casa Museo la Sebastiana, Valparaiso
Day 86.4 – Seafood, Valparaiso
Day 87 – New Year’s Fireworks, Valparaiso

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 86 (1 OF 4) – HILL OF COLOURS, VALPARAISO, CHILE

It was always a pleasure when getting up in the morning and the first thing we saw were the colourful houses across from Cerro Artilleria.  We could see the broken windows, or the rusty metal roofs, or the occasional piles of rubbish and debris along quiet laneways.  But under the golden morning light, everything seemed forgivingly charming.
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Read other posts on Santiago and Valparaiso in 2013 South America:

Day 83.1 – Mercado Central, Santiago
Day 83.2 – Museums & Cultural Centre, Santiago
Day 84.1 – Centro Cultural Palacio la Moneda, Santiago
Day 84.2 – Arrival, Cerro Artilleria, Valparaiso
Day 85.1 – Ascensores, Valparaiso
Day 85.2 – Paella Lunch, Valparaiso
Day 85.3 – Cerros Alegre and Concepcion, Valparaiso
Day 86.1 – Hill of Colours, Valparaiso
Day 86.2 – Trolleybuses, Valparaiso
Day 86.3 – Casa Museo la Sebastiana, Valparaiso
Day 86.4 – Seafood, Valparaiso
Day 87 – New Year’s Fireworks, Valparaiso

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 85 (3 OF 3) – CERROS ALEGRE AND CONCEPCION, VALPARAISO, CHILE

Many visitors consider getting lost in Cerros Alegre and Concepcion as the most interesting activity to do in Valparaiso.  Lined with colourful building façades, humorous street art, design boutiques and bohemian cafes, the labyrinth of lanes and small streets of these two hill neighbourhoods offer the most charming picture of the city.
After the pailla lunch, we wandered around these two small neighbourhoods, and dropped by Palacio Baburizza (now Museo de Bellas Artes).
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Read other posts on Santiago and Valparaiso in 2013 South America:

Day 83.1 – Mercado Central, Santiago
Day 83.2 – Museums & Cultural Centre, Santiago
Day 84.1 – Centro Cultural Palacio la Moneda, Santiago
Day 84.2 – Arrival, Cerro Artilleria, Valparaiso
Day 85.1 – Ascensores, Valparaiso
Day 85.2 – Paella Lunch, Valparaiso
Day 85.3 – Cerros Alegre and Concepcion, Valparaiso
Day 86.1 – Hill of Colours, Valparaiso
Day 86.2 – Trolleybuses, Valparaiso
Day 86.3 – Casa Museo la Sebastiana, Valparaiso
Day 86.4 – Seafood, Valparaiso
Day 87 – New Year’s Fireworks, Valparaiso

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought