Saturday, March 06, 2010

Valparaìso, Chile - 5.3 AFTERSHOCK!

We arrived in Santiago five days after a 8.8 magnitude earthquake (terremoto in espanol) caused massive destruction in Concepcion, a town about 500km SW of Santiago. This is 800 times more powerful than the quake that rocked Haiti. The town of Concepcion suffered the most damage but because of Chile´s long history of earthquakes, the infrastructure is much better and the loss of life was considerably lower than in Haiti.

In Santiago the amount of damage was much less but it still caused enough damage to the airport terminal for them to declare it unsafe for occupancy. Flights were going in and out by the time we arrived but they had set up a makeshift terminal outside. We never even went in the terminal after getting off the plane and collected our bags off the runway!

Here is their makeshift arrivals and departures board.

We immediately went to the bus station and got on a bus to the port town of Valparaiso (Valpo for short) which is two hours to the east. There are some good pictures below of the colorful, artsy port town but first the most exciting part of our time here.

We stayed there for three nights and on the last night we were bed when at 1:46am we were woken up by an earthquake! I woke up and realized our bed was rocking back and forth, then realized it wasn´t just the bed but our entire building! I´m not sure how long it was going before I woke up but it lasted for about ten seconds once we did. We were both so excited at first. Then I started freaking out a bit that our building was gonna collapse. I mean I didn´t get out of bed, but I was a bit worried. The fact that so many building arround us hadn´t collapsed during the 8.8 terremoto reassured me that we´d hopefully be ok.

Our first earthquake! Just another amazing experience to add to our long list on this trip!
Heres the link that shows the details of what we felt:

Heres some pictures of earthquake damage from the 8.8 quake before we arrived.

So back to Valpo. The town is made up of 16 hill side that drop dramatically down to the coast. To get up to each of the hills they have little elevators that for less than a dollar take you to the top.

View from the top of the hill looking out on the port.

We went to the top of a couple of the artsier neighborhoods. One was an outdoor museum with 16 murals painted throughout the neighborhood. Very similar to a little town in Sardinia Gemma and I visitied last year.

Here are a few of the murals.

We really liked this fountain when we first saw it. Then I had to laugh when I noticed the ladder up on top. So South America.

Valpo is a busy port town and we took a little half hour boat tour of the harbour. It wasn´t all that exciting until we saw a little group of seals swimming along side out boat. Gemma had been wanting to see some seals so I was glad she finally got a chance to see them.

Then our boat got WAY to close for comfort to a buoy that had a family of seals on it. The big poppa was not happy we were so close and started yelling out letting us know about it. Our boat was literally touching the buoy where these huge beasts could have easily jumped in and crushed us. Not gonna lie I was a little concerned.

Gemma spontaneously dancing as she´s known to do.

More street graffiti/art.

The Color Cafe. A nice little cafe run by a nice French guy.

We´re heading back to Santiago now for two days before we bid farewell to South America and start the next leg of our adventure in New Zealand.

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