Now that I’m returning to Chile to live in a town an hour from Valparaíso I’m particularly reminded of my time spent there a year ago, wandering the streets in the dazed state of confusion that only comes from jet lag, a new land and – in my case – a large and misguided glass of custard apple flavoured milk.
Valparaíso is a Chilean portside city not far from Santiago: a home to musicians, students, would-be artists and artists themselves, dock workers, the unemployed, the homeless and more dogs in need of adoption ever seen outside a shelter.
Affectionately named “Valpo,” the city is a great big old assault on the senses; behaving much like your bejewelled, mumu-wearing, foul-mouthed great aunt does at family reunions. It’s chaotic, noisy, rough, beautiful and happening everywhere. Days spent squeezing through narrow streets, dodging cars, eating street food and chatting with curious locals morph into nights holed up in bars and live music venues as dingy or swanky as your taste and budget demand. Of an early morning, its streets are heavily strewn with the rubbish of the previous night’s revelries. These nighttime antics – when viewed against the backdrop of city’s now drabby town houses from a long-gone, more splendid, less rock ‘n’ roll age – suggest a post-apocalyptic world in which the present moment rules as God, not leaving time to reflect upon the past or contemplate what sort of future is created in these chaotic streets.
Valpo’s street art is what most grabbed my attention. Scrawled wherever it fits on nooks, crannies and crevices throughout the city’s forty hills; it more than adds to the adventure of negotiating the many routes possible to take in this mad, messy metropolis.
Here are my favourite pieces…