Sunday 28 February 2010

Aún más peligroso

Crumbs, more disaster in South America: a massive 8.8 earthquake in Chile this time, south of Santiago. At least in Chile they're used to earthquakes, their buildings are designed to cope with them and they have systems in place to deal with the aftermath, unlike Haiti in all respects. Still, 8.8 - that's the real thing: I wouldn't have liked to be in one of the many apartment blocks I saw in Santiago, or these in Valparaiso. It's Santiago's port, a couple of hours' drive away over the hills (and through a 3km tunnel - somewhere else not to be caught in an earthquake) and past the wine country.

It's a funny place - both extremes visible in this photo, the brightly-coloured little painted piled-up boxes of houses, and the super-flash holiday apartments, all stacked on top of each other on the 45 steep hills surrounding the harbour. There are cable cars to the highest houses, lovely Victorian painted ladies with views over the Pacific and across to Mt Aconcagua, the highest peak in the Andes.

Many inhabitants have their minds on lower things, though: it's crawling with sailors in dress whites looking for a little entertainment with the "bad senoritas" down the alleyways. Definitely a party town.

And there's a connection with Aitutaki: outside a small museum there's a moai, a head from Easter Island, aka Rapanui which the guide on our island tour mentioned as having been settled by the same people as the Cooks. Big ocean, small world.

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