On my way to Cabo Polonio

02/05/2010

We are in Castillo, Uruguay at the bus company office, waiting for the bus in a hour time. Our final destination is the remote village called Cabo Polonio. The bus will leave us at Valizas  and then we will take a truck for the last 9 km along the sand dunes…

We are not sure whether we stay overnight there or will go back towards Montevideo… it will depend on the prices of the accomodation which seem very high for the basic comodities they offer. Anyway we’ll see. We are prepared to stay without light and water ( showers included) as the place seem be worthy the lack of this primary needs.

We spent the last 3 nights in Punta del Diablo chilling out …

I am very curios to ask the local people why it is called Cabo Polonio, which is the link with Poland…

To

Here a postcard from Punta del Diablo

To be continued

Atardecer en Puerto Iguazu u otros pensamientos

21/04/2010

El tiempo en Puerto Iguazu pasa muy lentamente… Despuès haber visto las Cataratas tuvimos muchas dudas para encuentrar nuestro siguente destino…

En los ultimos dos dias dejamòs la habitaciòn antes de las 10 respectando la regla del hostal y luego perdidos en dudas y hesitaciones nos quedamos por la noche otra vez…hoy en particolar no queria perdier por ninguna razòn el partido Inter -Barcelona y me finalmente he visto un partido que me dio emociones y no pasa tan amenudo. Ganamos 3 a 1 jugando bien pero todavia hay la vuelta en Catalunya que va ser muy larga…

Esta era mi vista a l’atardecer:

El tiempo de acà en camàra lenta te deja pensar especialmente despuès 6 meses de vagar para un continente menos poblado de lo donde viviste toda tu vida…

El volcàn en Islanda nos recuerdò, tras el terremoto en Chile, que hemos vivido el pasado Fevrero y las inundaciones de 2 semanas atràs en Rio de Janeiro, cuanto mal estamos tratando la Madre Tierra, la Pachamama. Justo en estos dias se discute a nivel mondial en Cochabamba, Bolivia como proteger la Pachamama, protegerla de l’Hombre!

Tenemos que proteger estas por ejemplo:

u esta:

u otra creatura

Es una pena al final no haber podido sacar una foto a los libelulas en” vuelo de amor” que durante el dia nos acompanaba en piscina!De todas formas hemos salvado una que se encuentraba en agua:

Gracias a l’ auxilio de una chancla violeta pudimos dejarla secar al sol.

Sus alas estaban ruinadas.

Pero despuès algunos minutos lavìmos mover la cabeza…volviò a vivir!

Siempre tuvo fascinaciòn por las libelùlas…

On my way to Puerto Iguazu ( ARG)

16/04/2010

Yesterday ( 14.04.2010) we took a cama bus from Buenos Aires to Iguazu…the journey lasted around 21 hours…We eventually arrived at 10 am. It was a mix of sleeping and waking up and having a salami and cheese sandwich and being stared by the little baby child seated in front of me…

We left a rainy Buenos Aires, the light was really dark and it was only 2 pm

We then wake up at 4 and at 6 thinking we were there but it was only a false alarm.

At the dawn we realised we left the civilised area of the Country and reach the Tropical One. Very deep forest boarding the road. A brown not compact pavement which was leading us through couloured little villages.

We stopped in Eldorado a 1h from Puerto Iguazu and from my window barely awake I took this photo of the local church

We then arrived and it was grey with 10 degrees and a surprise as Puerto Iguazu is now bigger than I remembered it was only 4 years  ago!

Tortel: perla sulla Carretera Austral nella Patagonia Cilena

13/04/2010

Perito Moreno and States of Mind

25/03/2010

There are not many words to describe the Perito Moreno Glacier.

It is one of the few that does still grow.

The height of the walls reaches 60 meters.

PM is quite impressive. We approached the South Wall by boat and the North one by  metal platforms called “pasarelas” which are quite large and comfortable to walk on.

When you see a black human spot in front of this Beauty  you realise how little the human beings are and how much damage they have caused to Pachamama.

The following photo provokes in me the same feeling as when I look at the Wanderer above the Sea of Fog, Friedrich masterpiece.

Perito Moreno is definitevely a “state of mind”. On the bus on my way back I listened to The Dark side of the moon.  Another state of mind.

The use of the photos of this blog is forbidden without previous authorization by the author.

Puerto Cisnes: nella terra dell’ Italiana di Patagonia

05/03/2010

Siamo arrivati ieri notte qui a Puerto Cisnes dopo 21 ore di navigazione. La nostra barca invece di attraccare si è fermata di fronte il molo e li un piccolo natante ci ha portato a riva a gruppi di 15 con i nostri bagagli.

Nell’oscurità più profonda, ci siamo recati non senza perderci, (si, anche in un pueblito di 3 mila anime!), alla piazza principiale. Lì ci aspettavano i nostri anfitrioni che ci avrebbero poi accompagnato a casa loro.

Solo oggi veniamo a sapere molte cose su questo piccolo raggruppamento di case in mezzo ai fiordi, che si trova nella Patagonia Settentrionale e più precisamente nell’ XI regione, di Aisèn.

Passiamo la calda e assolata mattinata informandoci sulle possibili alternative viarie al bus delle 5:30 per raggiungere Coyhaique, la capitale della regione.  Scopriamo che non ve ne sono e quindi compriamo i biglietti e chiamiamo Magdalena, la sorella di Berni, la nostra amica di Santiago,  che ci ospiterà domani in campagna . Siamo già curiosi di conoscerla perchè a giudicare dal paio di minuti di conversazione telefonica avuti,  sembra proprio un personaggio così come quella parte della sua famiglia che abbiamo avuto il piacere di conoscere durante il trekking bellissimo che ci ha portati al Macchu Picchu in Novembre.

E’ proprio Magdalena, che ci fa scoprire il mondo di Doña Maria Eugenia  e ci invita a visitare la biblioteca di Puerto Cisnes, che poi scopriremo fu costruita da lei così come l’ospedale, la scuola, il centro sportivo ecc..

Li incontriamo Rogelio che a livello di personaggio, neanche lui scherza, più tardi magari dopo la bottiglia di vino che ci siamo promessi, ne saprò ancora di più su di lui, oltre alla sua passione per la musica a 360 gradi:  cogestisce (assieme ad altri appassionati sparsi tra Repubblica Ceca, Spagna e  Stati Uniti) un blog di musica davvero impressionante per la mole di informazioni e anche per la ricerca nella proposta che spazia dal jazz al post rock…

Rogelio su mia precisa richiesta mi passa il libro, che è stato regalato alla cittadinanza  del pueblo dall’ambasciatore  italiano.  Il libro è scritto in italiano e castigliano e parla proprio della figura carismatica di Maria Eugenia Pirzio Birelli.

Ci sono vari interventi di familiari amici e conoscenti; vi si narrano le origini familiari: il padre era un autorevole membro dell’esercito reale. Lei sin da giovane mostra un carattere intraprendente, per esempio, all’età di 25 anni fonda la prima squadra di canottaggio femminile, a Roma.

Sfida le convenzioni sociali, indossando per la prima volta dei pantaloncini durante dei campionati di atletica .  Vince i campionati di lancio del disco e  studia per insegnare Greco e Latino. Ed è proprio li che incontra il  suo futuro marito, Genaro  Godoy Ariaza  che oltre ad esser specializzato in filologia romanza è anche un ottimo tenore…

Dopo il matrimonio si trasferiscono a Santiago dove lei si da da fare come dama di compagnia e istitutrice.  In questo periodo collabora con altre missioni di carità tra cui quella di Don Hurtado e l’ Opera di Don Guanella… e prende a cuore la causa dei bambini poveri cileni. Tanto a cuore che nel 57 si trasferirà in quell’angolo dimenticato tra fiordi, sede di quattro casette, che poco dopo diventerà Puerto Cisnes ossia il Porto dei Cigni.

E’ lì che porta con sè questi ragazzini in difficoltà e crea loro un rifugio.

Da quel momento si dedica anima e corpo allo sviluppo urbano del centro abitato. Va spesso a Santiago a chiedere e ottenere fondi, ai vari Presidenti della repubblica a partire da Alessandri fino a Pinochet e alle aziende italiane.

Si racconta che in attesa fuori dall ufficio si mettesse a fare l’uncinetto…tanto era perseverante e determinata.

Vengono costruite strade, ponti, che permettono di limitare l’isolamento del Porto dei Cigni.

La storia mi ha affascinato sotto vari aspetti:

in un’epoca dove non nutro molto rispetto per i miei connazionali, mi trovo in una terra dove noi ancora siamo visti in maniera più che positiva, e non ne  sono rimasti moltissimi; e lo dico sulla base delle mie esperienze di viaggiatore e di italiano che da 5 anni vive all’estero…

E senza dubbio affascinante la sua figura, di donna molto avanti nei tempi, che con molto carisma e attributi si è adoperata per fare del bene.

Tra le sue passioni, la lirica, l’astrologia e ovviamente la letteratura greca, Platone per esempio.

Dopo quel viaggio del 1947 farà ritorno in Italia solo un’altra volta.

Questo viaggio nel tempo è altresì reso affascinante dalla musica post rock,  che Rogelio ascolta dal suo computer, con casse rigorosamente JBL e che scivola sinuosamente nella sala tutta costruita in legno locale.

Perdere tempo in una biblioteca da turisti? Ci sono libri affascinanti di fotografia e non solo sulla Patagonia, rimaniamo basiti di fronte alla bellezza di alcuni scatti. Annotiamo i nomi di alcuni fotografi, vogliamo saperne di piu di loro e altri personaggi che incidentalmente incrociano il nostro cammino durante queste letture.  Personaggi, storie, che approfondiremo nei prossimi giorni.

Morirà nel 2003 dopo aver ricoperto per più di 30 anni la carica di sindaco ( alcaldesa) di Puerto Cisnes.

Nel settembre 2004 Il comando dei Carabineros cileno ha donato alla cittadinanza un busto raffigurante Maria Eugenia che si trova nella piazza proprio di fronte al Municipio  e alla sua amata biblioteca.

Della storia di Maria Eugenia, è stato prodotto un documentario diretto e creato dalla figlia della cugina. Mi ci sono imbattuto facendo le mie ricerche on line. Credo addirittura che la storia si presti benissimo ad esser raccontata dal cinema non solo documentale.

La ragione per cui vi racconto questa storia è anche dovuta al particolare momento che sta vivendo il mio Paese. Un’ epoca in cui il razzismo strisciante, tipico di ogni periodo di crisi economica, sta assumendo dei connotati preoccupanti. L’italiano si ostina a dimenticare il suo passato di Immigrato nel Nuovo Mondo, ha come rimosso quel periodo in cui i suoi compatrioti dovettere lasciare le loro terre natie in e avventurarsi in un nuovo territorio lontano migliaia di kilometri dalla propria casa per esser additato come straniero, analizzato e messo in quarantena al suo arrivo: Ellis Island un esempio per tutti ; per chi non l’avesse ancora visto consiglio la splendida e genuina pellicola di Crialese “Nuovomondo”…ora per me essere qui nella terra in cui una immigrata italiana ha tenuto alto il buon nome del suo paese d’origine è un motivo di orgoglio che ahimè non si riflette nella nostra attualità. Orgoglio nel passato e disillusione, per non dire ripugnanza per il triste presente.

Ad a giudicare dalle Prime Pagine dei giornali di oggi , al peggio non vi e´ mai fine…

Earthquake : happy ending story

02/03/2010

This a little update about the earthquake of course from the Island of Chiloè, where I am now.
First of all, The australian couple we were waiting at the hostel, arrived in the evening but arrived.

Meg’s mother is a really lovely lady with a pleasant smile. The following morning, the 28th, she told us her experience of the tragic event:

They were travelling overnight from Santiago to Chiloè in a Cruz del Sur bus, the most confortable chilean bus company, and they woke up at the moment of the shake.
Their first reaction was to think that the bus was involved a road accident.

They did not speak spanish and  so they felt isolated. They were not able to contact anybody as the GSM Network was down. They fell very frustated not to be able to communicate and get to know what was actually going on.
Only by the intervention of a tourist which spoke english and realised how out of context the couple was feeling, they eventually learnt that it was about an earthquake.

And of course their first thought were for Meg which was safe with us in Castro’s darkness but that they were unable to contact.
Luckily they had already left the Temuco-Concepcion area, the most affected one when it struck the territory.

Then they queued with other buses and in some ways arrived at the final destination some 15 hours later. And Meg was relieved.

Account of the Earthquake from Castro, Chiloè Island

27/02/2010

At 3-34 am Chilean time a dreadful earthquake struck the country reaching the unusual and violent 8.8 Richter degrees.

Here is the English translation of my account of this dramatic night in Castro in Chiloè Island which has been published in the 2 main newspapers in Italy: Repubblica.it and Corriere della Sera.

I woke up during the first quake and, still being half asleep, I thought it was hailing. We were on the second floor of a building built on a slope by a staircase that leads to the promenade. We’re in the Island of Chiloe, precisely Castro situated some 600 km from the epicenter.
When I realized that this was not hail but a quake I woke up Eve and in  the blink of an eye, barefoot and in pajamas, we were already going down the stairs .
We met there with other guests of the hostel, British, Chileans, Australians … Eve was traumatized, it was her first time, Poland is not an earthquake zone.
We remained a bit on the ground floor to share emotions and thoughts with the others and then decided to go back to bed. This time we found our torches and put them on the bedsides … after calming Eve down, we both fell asleep. She did not have at all a desire to cross off the “Earthquake” experience in her long list of “first times” that are taking place here in South America …
Not even one hour had passed when the second quake woke me up. I woke up Eve and, with the torches and again barefoot, we walked hurriedly down the stairs.
We gathered with the other guests in front of the house again and this time we stopped a little longer in the sunk in darkness living room, talking to a girl from Santiago and and an Australian girl who expected her parents to arrive by bus from Santiago in early morning …
Not being aware of the destructive force of the earthquake we thought we should not tell our families about it, to not worry them. A sort of mutual tacit agreement: I do not give you bad news so as to not worry you, and vice versa …
Only this morning we found out that this has been the second most powerful earthquake in the last 20 years and that there are casualties and injured in the country …
We tried to contact our families through internet and phone but there was no electricity so we waited some 2 hours to get connected and give good news: We are fine.
Now I am thinking of my friends in Chile and Argentina and I hope they’re all fine.

(Chilean) German way

26/02/2010

Before getting to the Island of Chiloè we spent around 10 days between Valdivia and Puerto Varas respectively in the Región de Los Ríos and the Región de Los Lagos .

This area has been populated by German settlers during the second half of the 19th century.

Once the Germans obtained the lands previously taken away from the native Mapuche people, they started off their businesses and developed the area.

Nowadays their influence is pretty strong and clearly visible…in the names of the streets,  shops,  German Institutes, fire brigades, clinics, tidy organization of the villages, architecture, Kuchen cakes  and of course German owned accommodation. In one of these very organized hostels I came across the following sign while visiting the toilet:

My first reaction was to burst out laughing …

Have to say that as soon as we came in,  the German girl who opened the gate was very keen to inform us of all the rules as well as showing the place that actually was really well furnished and also quite warm.

Getting back to the point, that was the 1st time I’ve seen such sign.

I have a passion for signs, especially street ones but not only.  As I consider myself primarily an observer I think that this kind of signs can show a lot about the attitude of  people, most of all when it comes to driving human behaviors or just managing people.

The rules listed in other signs that we saw hanging on the wall of the hostel would start with “Don’t” and  end all with a “!”  in order to sound like a command ( in 3 languages!).

I would be very curious to see what you out there think about it.

Heard stories in Valdivia about the fact that having a German family name would help to get a better position within the Community, a sort of pedigree.

The towns we visited were very nice, maybe Puerto Varas a bit touristy; we did not make it to see Frutillar because of the bad weather but it was a real surprise to discover a bit of central Europe in this area of Chile. We really loved the Kunstman Cerveceria (brewery).  I hope to write soon about the latter but I can already say that this is a must-see visit and taste in Valdivia!

Ciao

F’

Like all great travellers, I have seen more than I remember, and remember more than I have seen.  ~Benjamin Disraeli

What can you see from your window today?

26/02/2010

This (late) morning the sun was shining again in Castro and therefore I decided to take this photo from my window:

From my window in Castro, Chile

As I was chatting with  two friends of mine as well born in Palermo but living in Ireland and Finland I thought to ask them to send me an image of what they were able to see from their windows in that particular moment and I did the same, sending my image to them… and this was the outcome:

Helsinki, Finland  by Francesco

Francesco's view in Finland

Cellbridge, Co. Dublin, Ireland by Marco

Cellbridge, Co. Dublin

My first reaction was to think about how technology nowadays can make you feel so close  to someone  thousands kms away…

I am showing South America to my family and friends, ( thanks to Wi-Fi and Skype) especially hostels and people in them and windows and passers-by…and suddenly I feel I miss them less as I  share with them the same view, the same feeling related to this view…

I therefore decided to start asking friends of mine spread in various countries to share with me the views from their windows…not only actual windows but also metaphoric ones as doors that open their routine and in particularly their current mood to empathize with.

Santiago, Chile by Hugo

Santiago, Chile

La Plata, Argentina by Diego

La Plata, Argentina

Larvik, Norway by Ramiro

Larvik, Norway

And to show how far we are ( I remind you I am in Chile right now, in Europe was starting to get dark…)

Arezzo, Tuscany,  Italy by Daniela

Poznan, Poland by Adam

Poznan, Poland

While in the other part of the world it was still bright …

Barrio Floresta, Buenos Aires, Argentina by Sergio

Barrio Floresta, Buenos Aires, Argentina

The last two ( plus a bonus one) from my Trinacria :

Catania, Sicily by Lea

Catania, Sicilia, Italia

Palermo, Sicily by Busa

Palermo, Trinacria, Italia

And as a bonus:  Paris, France by Erika ( Didn’t I tell you I was keen to see what was outside and not inside your window :p )

Paris, France

In conclusion, this was a media experiment which involved a bunch of very active and brave friends;  and also the use of simple basic technology: a camera or a mobile phone and a cable and e-mail or instant messenger client.

When I say brave I mean that they challenge the working routine and this is not that easy especially in front of Facebook!

About technology it is true that today in 2010 we are able to do simple multiple things in a so short period of time that only 10 years ago would have been considered complicated and long!

Any possible thought related to this post will be highly appreciated

Ciao
Francesco

We wander for distraction, but we travel for fulfillment.  ~Hilaire Belloc


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