On March 13 2010, the citizens of Valparaiso were treated to the greatest nautical spectacle to present itself in over a hundred years. In perfect formation, their sails billowing in the glow of the afternoon sun, eleven tall sailing ships entered the bay.
Sailing close to shore, its crew aloft, manning the braces, the Chilean brigantine Esmeralda led the parade followed by its sistership Juan Sebastian Elcano (Spain). Sagres (Portugal) and eight more schoolships. Thousands of spectators lined the shore to greet the magnificent visitors.
After the devastating earthquake, which did a lot of damage to this World Heritage port city, the sight of so many sailing ships was like a message of hope. A reminder of the glory days when sailors knew Valparaiso as the Jewel of the Pacific.
I am not a Porteno, but could not resist the show. It had been nearly twenty years since I visited the city that desperately hugs steep slopes and has produced a unique breed of people. Sailors, tailors, bankers, writers, painters, poets, innkeepers crowd the twisting streets and alleys and share a history of adversity.
Portenos say, Valparaiso had no beginning and therefore cannot have an end.
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Valparaiso The City That Refuses To Die