Valparaiso or simply Valpo is located South of Vina del Mar on the Pacific Coast as well. Valparaiso is known for being a large port and city filled with a unique culture, artists, and musicians and is often referred to as the Jewel of the Pacific. Valpo is also the location of the Congress in the country, so there are many different political demonstrations as well. Such as when the congress passed a law for same sex marriage in October.
Valpo is a city that runs all night long and is always filled with people. There are always different festivals that take place within the city and Valpo is the cheapest city to go out in. There were salsa classes every Wednesday night and there were always other places to go out dancing to reggaeton, bachata, and cumbia or as the Chileans say “Carretes”. There were countless live music events as well with a variety of music.
The streets of Valpo were also filled with street art that was beautiful but also gave large political statements.
Below will be a paper I wrote for my Latin America on Film class of my thoughts on Valparaiso.
The Jewel of the Pacific
The scent of the ocean breeze and piscola brushes my senses as I climb up chaotic "escaleras" through the beautiful city of Valparaiso. The "paseos" and "cerros" within the city of paradise provide stunning views of the sea and vibrant colorful houses below. The sun radiates downward on the grand port beneath and street performers, vendors, and tourists assemble throughout the streets. The wall of every structure within the city is filled with radiant street art, graphic stencils, and deep messages that captures the eyes of any foreigner. The individuals roaming among the street art appear rough on the outside, but in an instant show warmth and friendliness towards the foreigner. Valparaiso is said to be “The Jewel of the Pacific” and she truly is. Valpo is a city within Latin America that demonstrates a type of life that cannot be found elsewhere. She is chaotic, raving, alluring, captivating, and charming. She demands to be looked at and to be enjoyed.
Valparaiso is truly a beautiful, chaotic mess. She is a clash between rapid industrialization and the Latin American soul that is dying to be heard. The people of Valparaiso are restless and captivating, but the city is quickly becoming exhausted and weary. The night life of Valpo is filled with raving "carretes" that illuminate every dark corner within the central part of the city. The sounds of dancing, laughter, live music, and howling of the people can be heard in every "cerro" above. Life fills the streets and provides a certain charm that is foreign to anywhere else within the world. Discotecas and piscolas dominate the nighttime and allure any person who passes by on the stone streets. The image of people who have consumed one too many piscolas, crowded roaring streets, the beautiful tone of the Latin tongue, and the aroma of completos and empanadas after a night full of dancing and laughter will be the memories I will always recollect from my nights spent within the city that refuses to rest. Valpo is truly a ¨Jewel¨ for the young soul that desires an exciting, charming, and captivating lifestyle that does not emerge elsewhere in Chile or Latin America.
Valparaiso appears young, alive, and thriving in the eyes of a newcomer. Within the first months of my arrival in Chile, I was in love with the beautiful street art, endless festivities, loud nights, and the certain charm that no other city within Latin America showed me before. The streets of the city enchanted me and were filled with a new perception of life that was foreign to me. The people I was introduced to within the streets were lovely and the city provided scents of richness and happiness. My first experiences within this beautiful and breathtaking city appeared almost as the mystical and luring as the place of ¨El Dorado¨. The city never appeared to run out of excitement and was my main destination for nights out in Chile. Although, the sight of the moonlight kissing the sea that sweeps across Valparaiso and the piscola kissing my lips within the night left me in a delusional type of love that I was rudely awakened from the following morning.
When the sun rises and provides morning light, Valparaiso reveals her exhaustion of her exhausting lifestyle. The streets are filled with trash and loneliness. No person dared to care for the beautiful city that lured them in within the night. The people instead roamed the streets with looks of deceitfulness that sent chills down my spine. The moment I stepped foot outside of the tourist centers and into the residential parts of the city, ¨The Jewel of the Pacific” was no longer apparent. The chaos and raving of the city became unbearable and the alluring, captivating charm of the city I felt so intensely before immediately vanished. The street art plastered on the structures began to provide a deeper symbolism of resistance and oppression the central government forced among the people of this beautiful city. The street art was the only voice the people of Valparaiso have, their expressions of mistreatment and cruelty of the government was shown. (Especially by the Mapuche nation) The streets of the city and the brilliant colors of the houses dwindled. The endless parties, street art, and charm was nothing more than propaganda to deceive foreigners of Valparaiso.
¨The Jewel of the Pacific¨ is currently encountering a constant struggle to overcome the oppression and betrayal she faces. She has become exhausted, weak, and disastrous. She is beautiful within the nighttime, but with the rising sun her true expressions of weakness are revealed. The colorful houses that are stacked within the "cerros" are slowly falling apart, the "escalares" are rapidly aging, and the "paseos" are filled with people who are in a constant battle for survival. The scent of "piscola" hinders on the breath of locals as they use it to drown their own sorrows within the city they once believed was a beautiful ¨Jewel of the Pacific¨. However, I do truly believe, Valparaiso will win her battle and become the Jewel of the Pacific once again someday. She captivated my heart and opened my blind eyes as a foreigner to this chaotic world.