Old Valparaiso

Alongside Yacht Club de Chile, Valparaiso
Weather: Mostly sunny, mild

First of all let me apologize to those of you on my yahoo mailing list who have been receiving spam emails from me. It seems a virus has invaded my yahoo account. I spent much of Saturday running scans to find the bug but it seems with no success. My next step will be to open a new email account and shut down the old yahoo account. That of course won’t eliminate the virus but hopefully will make it ineffective for some time while I work out some way of rooting the pesky blighter out. Advertising companies who use these techniques are the progeny of el Diablo. I run the free version of avast, any suggestions would be welcome.

Today’s mission has been to purchase some fibreglass resin and to obtain extensions for my visa and Sylph’s temporary import permit. One of the men that work in the yard here, Jorge, gave me directions to where I could find fibreglass resin. A train line runs past the yacht club and it is about a 1 km walk to the nearest station. A freeway parallels the train line and adjacent the yacht club the line runs under the freeway. To get to the train station one first has to walk away from it along a dirt road, which this morning after last night’s heavy rain glittered with myriad gold specks. I examined them closely, scooped a little on the end of my finger, very curious, very beautiful - mud!. The golden dirt road eventually connects with the freeway. A short distance from here is the fishing port, Portales, with a train station nearby. Alternatively about half way there you can climb a stairway which takes one up to the freeway then walk in the opposite direction to another train station, Recreo. I haven’t worked out which is closer but reckon there isn’t much in it. This morning I doubled back to Recreo as where I had to go, an industrial part of town, was in this direction . Jorge’s directions were impeccable and I found the shop that sold the vinylester straight away. From here I caught the train back to Vina Del Mar, a point about half way back to the yacht club. Jorge had mentioned that this stop was turistico, so I thought this would be a good place to look for a tourist information office to seek information as to where I should go to obtain a visa extension. Vina Del Mar is dominated by a large central plaza, a short distance from the train station. I stopped at a hotel reception and asked for directions to the nearest tourist information centre. The receptionist very kindly came out into the street with me and pointed the way across the square. And the lady at the information centre was also very nice, patiently making several phone calls on my behalf. She gave me addresses, a map and directions. I guess it was her job but nonetheless it is always nice to be treated with genuine courtesy.

Back on the train and I was soon back into the older part of Valparaiso where the immigration office, Port Captain and Customs are located. The old section of Valparaiso sits in a narrow strip of land between the coast and the hills, and despite its geographical constraints I still managed to lose my way. Initially I sought the immigration office but ended up in another large square, its central ornament a military monument and at one end a palace declaring itself the headquarters of the Armada, a far cry form the ugly concrete monolith that is the headquarters for the Australian Defence Force. Not, by the way, that I believe it is at all appropriate for the military to be occupying palaces. This palace bears further investigation. Unfortunately I forgot my camera but I will follow up in the next day or so, and in any event in this day and age of the internet, Wikipedia, Google Earth etc, anyone interested could satiate their curiosity in the blink of any eye, or a few keystrokes. Ascending the steps to the Armada’s palace I asked one of the immaculately uniformed sentries where I might find the Port Captain’s office. Despite the language barrier, and perhaps largely due to its extreme proximity, he soon had me heading in the right direction. A more mundane building, a ticket machine, a short queue and my question is answered, I need to go to the third floor, but they are closed until 2 p.m.. OK, lets walk back to the immigration office which was where I had been aiming for in the first place. The streets are much smaller than I had expected which was the main reason I had overshot my mark. I soon found the building I wanted and the information desk advised me the office I needed was only open in the mornings, I would have to come back tomorrow. No problem, the streets hereabouts looked very interesting, I could easily kill a bit of time before heading back to the Port Captain’s office. Now a few turns right, a few turns left, climb a hill, narrow cobbled streets, my sort of space and I stumble upon a used book store, and it stocks b ooks in English. Now I am in trouble. About an hour later, three books in my backpack (I exercised extreme restraint and in any event it would appear used books are expensive here) and I head back to the Port Captain’s office.

Third floor, a pretty young girl takes my form, studies it, asks me to sit down. I read one of the books I had bought, a relatively recent translation of Camus’ “The Stranger” - 6,000 pesos, that‘s like $12 US! There has got to be way of making some money out of the price differential between used books in the US and elsewhere in the world, including Australia. My idea is to have a sailing bookstore, my ideal existence. One day. Anyway, back to reality, whatever that might happen to mean, a young sublieutenant standing nearby who speaks excellent English and who, unknown to me, has been studying my problem addresses me. I need to go to the Aduana - Customs. They are nearby, a short walk, in a stately old building, which in Australia would have been sold off long ago, the one off proceeds used to prop up the Government’s balance sheet. I am looked after by another very patient courteous lady, she also speaks English well and soon understands what I need. She asks me to sit, I continue to read Camus - he really is very good. I read this book in High School but was far too ignorant and immature to know anything about literature back then. Twenty minutes later, a couple of pieces of paper signed, and the lady tells me it will be ready tomorrow and she can fax it to the yacht club if I like. Excellent. I leave and continue to explore old Valparaiso.

Now, some while later, I am back on board. Overall I would say not a bad day and, in between boat maintenance, I am looking forward to a few more expeditions ashore.

All is well.

Bob Cat:

If you have made it this far, gentle reader, past the skipper’s long droning monologue (and yes I know many of you skip his section and head straight for the interesting bit - just like the sports pages or the comic strips, though I think it needs be said this is where the deep thinkers start, so perhaps my analogy is rather flawed; but our egos are secure are they not?) I will not belabour you further, but simply refer you to yesterday’s entry … zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz