So, people have been saying that they are having a hard time imagining where I live, so I thought i would share some pictures from my walk today. And a little bit of information too.
Valparaiso and Viña del Mar are sister cities; although they could not be more different. Viña del Mar is a resort town with fancy buildings and pristine beaches– and I love it. Valparaiso is filled with culture, it is a city that feels alive, it is dirty and real– and I love it. I promise to post more on the two cities soon.
For now, it is important to know that Valparaiso is a city of hills (somewhere between 45 and 55, I am not exactly sure). Downtown sprawls along the pacific ocean and is only about 5 streets deep. Beyond these 5 streets, the city moves up into hill after hill. Many of the hills have an “assenssor” or elevator to transport people. Most of these are funicular style and pull carts up the side of the hill. Cerro Polanco is one of 3 assensores in the world that functions like an elevator. At the base you walk through this long tunnel until you are in the middle of the hill, then a cart brings you directly up to the top.
The current government of Chile is has promised to improve the infrastructure and life in 200 impoverished communities throughout Chile. Cerro Polanco is going to receive 400 million pesos to improve its infrastructure over the next year.
Additionally, one of the organizations I am working with, Fundacion Rescate Patrimonio, has worked in this hill for the last 5 years. One of the things that FRP is trying to do is restore tourism here by creating socio-cultural tourism. Tourists, in the summer, can ride the assenssor and then take a guided tour of the cerro down to the bottom. This tour route will show them the entire gamut of classes and people who call this place home (including my house).
Cerro Polanco, in my eyes, has a certain beauty that is found not just in the assensor, but in the community surrounding it, the warmth of the people, the contrast of social classes, the vibrant buildings, and its cobblestone streets. For more pictures, from a short excursion with Harley today, please click on the above picture or here.