Sunday morning in Valparaíso

This morning the Humboldt current cools the spring air deliciously, producing tendrils of fog that curl over the cerros with, later, crazily high kites bobbing in the pale blue sky.

Valparaíso’s oldest street elevator (opened 1893) Ascensor Artillería lurches up and down a steep, rough and ready 30-degree hill which provides spectacular views over the bustling port below.

There are many ancient ascensors all over Valparaíso, at one time up to 30 of them ferrying locals up and down the cerros with characterful names such as Mariposas, Perdices, Ramaditas, El Peral, El Hogar, Esmeralda, Espíritu Santo and Reina Victoria. But today just 7 remain active and are declared National Monuments of Chile, with 9 others under restoration and soon to be active again.

Loud muffled announcements, the clang of cranes and a strong smell of tar waft up from the port and El Plan and a Sunday fun run results in snarled traffic jams – will anyone get anywhere? Will that screaming ambulance ever get its patient to Emergency? Will the passengers in the many collectivos make it to the Sunday flea market on Avenida Argentina?

Car horns honking in vain – I mean, what’s the point, you’re not going anywhere….

Street dogs snooze on cracked pavements as fruit and veg and bunches-of-fresh-herb stalls slowly open for a busy day.

Is that a cat on a hot tin roof seemingly indifferent to the street stress below?

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