Saturday, November 29, 2008

Spanish Gala at Viña

Once a year all the spanish groups from the local spanish clubs show their musical and artistic prowess in a free gala at the municipal theater in Viña. This year with the flamenco schools, both galician and asturian pipebands plus their dancing and singing groups. The name of this year's venue:
Domingo, 30 de Noviembre de 2008
Hora: 19:00 - 21:00
Información de Contacto: Teléfono: 2627197
Correo electrónico:

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Valpo, a crabby type locality

A while ago I found out that a whole generic group of crabs had been named after me. So, it was quite surprising to find Chirinocarcinus as a name for a new genus of xhantoid crabs. I had been honoured because I had done some work on other crustaceans before describing some new species such as the big deep-sea crab Chaceon chilensis (photo above) living off Valparaiso all the way to Easter and Juan Fernandez islands plus a few fossil south american species. Doing these studies I had to check the historical localities where many species had been collected and I found out that for many of the older ones the type locality for the holotype of the species was Valparaiso. So among other chilean localities, Valparaiso has a curious distinctive feature to be cited as the most frequent chilean type locality for many animal and botanical species, especially those from the seashore collected originally in the XIX century. This is especially true for marine invertebrates such as crabs that were the focus of my earlier learning on taxonomy. Probably, today nobody could collect most of those species found originally at Valparaiso because environmental change... i.e. pollution. Of course, despite fishing some of them still might be doing well because today there is more available food for them so there are more smaller detritus eating cancrid jaibas than in older times. Anyway, most of those fished here end in dishes such as the pastel de jaiba, but don't ask what they eat...

Friday, November 14, 2008

When sailing was the way

A hundred years ago even hundreds of sailing ships could be found at the Valparaiso's bay... At any time but winter you could see dozens of three, four and even the world's largest five masted ships at harbour.
One of the latest working caphonier sailing ships doing the trek around Cap Horn to Europe was the s.s. Calbuco (photo above), a german/chilean owned ship that had been carrying wood, coal, nitrates and other freewares as cargo along the chilean coast since the early twenties to the beginning of the II World War. Around that time (1942), it changed ownership, with a new chilean-german captain but retaining a good part of the chilean crew plus some new hands including my then teenager uncle Tito who went on board at Coquimbo to sail through the dangerous trek to one Europe in war. They had to do it twice, at the first try they had to get back after rounding the Horn because they were undermanned to hold its way sailing through the southern gales. The second time they made their way to Montevideo, place where the Graf von Spee battleship had found a temporary refuge from battle before being sunken against a british squadron in the southern Atlantic. There, realising what was going on, part of the chilean crew including my uncle got afraid of this adventure leaving the ship to go back to Chile overland. This ship continued with nitrate for Europe where the myth tell many hands were lost and still today in family circles I have heard the stories my dad told about my uncle's friends who never came back or even were heard of.... De ellos nunca más se supo....
The largest of these nitrate sailing ships visiting Valpo was the Preussen (photo above taken in Valpo around 1905). This was part of a large sailing fleet belonging to the german P Line or Laeisz company that along with the french Bordes Company were the largest world sailing companies both with main branches in Valpo.

Firemen memorial mass

Lastnight Valparaiso firemen recalled the names of those lost in service over more of 150 years of organised life in Valparaiso. It was 150 years ago when their first voluntary fireman, Eduardo Farley died in service in our port so Valparaiso's firemen attended in force to the yearly memorial mass for those lost in service.... way too many names especially those 36 lost at the 1953 new year fire... So I was there to play my instruments including bagpipes for those being honoured. More at:

Monday, November 03, 2008

St. Paul's church 150 years

The oldest anglican church in Chile is St. Paul's Church and it is celebrating its 150th anniversary with a Heritage History Symposium plus an organ concert by Chritian Sundt next thursday 13th from 18:30 onwards at the church's hall (cerro Concepción). Further info & free registration:

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Remembering our deads

Once a year on the eve of November 1th most chileans visit their deads at the cemeteries. But this year it was different for our family because our father had passed away just two months earlier. This time, he wasn´t with us talking about what we were going to do together. Instead, we were talking about him, visiting him to change flowers weekly, playing bagpipes to him. so November 1th is the day when all families rehears their memories for those that has left earlier...