Friday, May 16, 2008

The red light sailors

When large foreign navy crews arrive to Valparaiso, there is a renaissance of the almost extint red light district at the port. Cafés con piernas, a classic chilean joint, cabarets and other night life business start to bust with people around Valpo and Viña. On this opportunity, the arrival of the US carrier George Washington with more than 3400 people on board for a leave of 4 days has produced much havock around the sailor´s leisure. However, this time is quite different, there is a port area, the former red light district or barrio puerto, the core of the world heritage city that the graphic map provided to them has stamped as an off limit area, so most of the sailors are being shuttled to the "safer" pub-restaurants area at downtown Viña del Mar. Also, the sailors have a curfew since most of them have to be back on board before midnight... so strangely enough, these joints are being opened earlier since the sailors have to do night life during the day and like Cinderella, they have to rush before midnight to take the boat back to the carrier. Over a century ago, a sailor's brawl at the gates of the True blue saloon in the puerto area ended with 2 dead plus 17 wounded US sailors, and it almost drifted into a war between Chile and the US, better known as the Baltimore incident. Times has changed everything but what we wonder if this daylight nightlife has any parallel with the sailor´s nightlife of 100 years ago?.