I've heard and read various opinions about Valparaíso: that is wonderful, dirty, ugly, beautiful, interesting, over-hyped, dangerous and so on. There is quite a bit of misinformation about the city floating around in cyberspace, starting with the UNESCO World Heritage designation, which is what confuses some people I think. The entire city does not have the designation, just the historical area around the port.So, is Valpo dirty and horrible? It is a big city, a working port and it is old-so yes, there is grime. Of course, I did not go to every part of the city and many places are dangerous. Many of the hills have substandard housing, which can have devastating results when things burn, as happened here in April. I've also heard that mud-slides can be a problem when it rains a lot.
But where I went around the metro line, port, points south and north closer to Viña were interesting, charming in places, run-down in others but I like the city very much.
I've seen the man in the row boat every time I've visited the port. Today was the first time I saw people with him, and I realized he ferries folks back and forth to the anchored tourist boats. Not the tourists, the people who work on the boats. We never took one of the water tours around the port-the boats looked really sketchy to me. I've heard the tours are really interesting, that you can get fairly close to the cargo and navy ships, but the way the tour boats were packed, the way some listed far over to one side...it wasn't for me!
The ship below was one Steve, Joel and I saw about 6 weeks ago. It was really different looking from the other container ships we saw regularly, and we couldn't figure out what it was. I finally asked someone in the port office, and she said it was an vehicle transport boat. Out of curiosity, I googled its name Athens Highway, and discovered a really cool website, that shows ship locations all around the world (marinetraffic.com). This is a Japanese registered ship, and is, as of this writing, 3 days away from Nakanoseki. It left Valpo on June 3rd, so it will have taken it over a month to get back home.
A different day, another big ship. This is the Orange River, built in 2007 (registered in Hong Kong). Yeah, I looked that up too, on the Pacific Basin website. This company specializes in "dry bulk," minerals, metals, construction materials and the like. She's currently on her way to Balboa, Panama.
Hasta luego, Valparaíso! I felt lucky to have lived next door to you.