Good Friday and Valparaiso.

Fire at Valparaiso

Fire at Valparaiso

Yesterday things were so quiet you could hear a sole pigeon flapping its wings on the main street. Good Friday is seen as a day of mourning and the usual clamour of shoppers and their trolleys had ceased. W.H Auden’s muffled drums were tolling, even dogs did not bark. Cars were driven in reverse gear only. Later on the TV, a procession was seen showing a man struggling with a heavy wooden cross barefooted through a main street somewhere. A small crowd was lining the pavement. Children were confused. Should they cheer him on with little flags or cry? If he thought he was on his way to Mount Calvary, what was he doing on the Sydney M5 overpass near Liverpool? That same man, still barefooted and wearing his crown of thorns was interviewed later on ABC TV.

It is all so confusing but at least he had his moment of fame. The day remained terribly silent. All was closed and barred up. Remarkably, the one shop that was open were selling croissants, Vienna sour dough crusty bread and whole fish including giant trouts and snappers, prawns, lobsters, head and all. (no crowns). I was feeling a resurgence of spirits and decided to add some colour to this grey and sombre day. Many customers were pushing and shoving for food proving that the closure of shops did not lesson customers on and about wanting to buy items for later digestion. I recklessly splurged out on a whole snapper and a sour dough crusty bread. It is not as if Good Friday is a day of obligatory mourning for everyone. Once I learnt that my hobby of masturbation was a serious offence with a special place for the serial offender reserved in the hottest of hells, I tossed the whole lot overboard and joined that army of un-repenting onanists and hopeful fornicators. I am not surprised that that poor man was reduced to carrying that cross around barefooted. Further footage on the ABC news showed men self flagellating in Chile or was it Peru? Seeing that, my thoughts went back when we were in Chile many years ago during the Pinochet reign of terror. He was a very good and devout Catholic. Margaret Thatcher remembered him fondly.

We landed in Argentina and after some time in Buenos Aires took a flight to Mendoza and from there a bus over the Andean mountains to Santiago in Chile. The capitol was tense and even though lots of people were about and cafes doing well, the sight of armed soldiers with machine guns at the ready did not make for a relaxed atmosphere. Every time we thought things were quiet and relaxed a mass of people would be running through the streets and a tank would appear. Shops had their shutters pulled down in seconds and the streets became eerily quiet. ( Not unlike Good Friday in Bowral). This happened also during one evening when we went out to have a meal. A disturbance somewhere and again all people rushed away or went indoors. Within minutes the shops were deserted with shutters pulled down. All was now barred and hidden. We had no clear recognisable street signs or beacons to guide us back to the house were we were staying. A soldier with a gun stopped us as were about the only ones still defying the impromptu curfew. We showed him the address where we were lodging and he showed us the way back. It was all a bit sinister and dangerous. We were younger then and the adrenalin made us take risks we would not take now. Today we feel we take lives in our hands shopping for giant Marigolds at the local nursery or a bolt cutter spanner at Bunnings-Hardware or even queuing at the local ATM.

After a week or two in Santiago we went to coastal Valparaiso. Valparaiso was again in the news last week. A dreadful fire had consumed a suburb of that glorious city. It was on that same steep hill consumed by that recent fire that we walked up all those years ago to have some lunch. We were told that Valparaiso had a large second hand book market. We walked around it for a couple of hours. I have never seen a book market like it. A bit like the Hermitage but for books only. Millions of them and in all languages. As we walked up that steeped hill we noticed the tightly packed houses had many trees. Especially the Australian Casuarina and Eucalyptus. Sadly it must have been those very flammable trees that added to the devastation in Valparaiso last week.
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-27029252

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21 Responses to “Good Friday and Valparaiso.”

  1. Big M Says:

    Gerard, we were not looking forward to Good Friday in Rome. Surely the Holy City would be shut down, pigs and cows allowed to live for one more dat, in deference to our Lord. Not so, everything was open, bacon and ham with everything. Mrs M had an idea that The stations of the Cross would be a spectacle not to be missed. As afternoon wore on she decided it would be too busy, and why risk getting knocked over.

    We managed to find a liittle restaurant, that had been highly recommended by a friend (chef is rated as second best in all Rome). It was very quiet, one other chap there, a retired priest, who went there every night for dinner. He agreed, a better view of the Stations on telly, or, better, YouTube. Thankfully we got a great feed!

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  2. gerard oosterman Says:

    Yes, Rome doesn’t shut down for anything I suspect. Religious fervour only puts more people on the streets. Here in Bowral everything was shut. The concrete parking station underneath Woolworth was almost empty, an ominous gloomy feeling all pervasive. All of a sudden three men asked us where the way to Woolworth was. I said just follow the ramp up but as the parking is empty I suspect it is closed. We are from Sydney they said. What do you want, we asked? Perhaps a loaf of bread, some milk! They said alcohol!
    Well, the best of luck!
    Glad to hear you had a nice feed. I suppose the weather is getting warmer.
    Wished we were there too.

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    • Hung One On Says:

      You will be pleased Gez, I had a meat pie and wait for it, with tomato sauce. I made up for it the next day when Tutu visited, Provincial Chicken with all the trimmings.

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      • gerard oosterman Says:

        I’ll forgive you son, but no more sinning with meat in the future. We had a quiet Easter with walks and a lovely lunch on Monday. ( Mash and bangers with peas and schooners of old)

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      • Hung One On Says:

        Down at the Royal?

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      • gerard oosterman Says:

        How did you know? Amazing! H had Caesar salad with chicken and schooner of new.

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      • Hung One On Says:

        When I did my nurses training at Bulli we did some “blocks” as they were called, 4 weeks of tuition in the classroom, at Bowral. After class I would wander down to the Royal for a beer. Me and Tutu would have had the same except Tutu would of had a glass of white wine as she doesn’t like beer.

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  3. petspeopleandlife Says:

    Wow! Australia is by far more devout than the 100,000 plus population where I live. Good Friday continued as another day with stores, nurseries, banks, and all large retail stores- raking in the big bucks. Hardly anyone wants to miss making money.

    This post has something for everyone- interesting places, tell all, religion, etc. An enjoyable read as usual, Gerard.

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  4. gerard oosterman Says:

    I don’t know if Australia is more devout. I think more conservative and keen not to rock the boat. Glad you thought the post of some interest. Thank you and hope you are well.

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  5. auntyuta Says:

    Thank you, Gerard, for the link to the news item about Valparaiso.
    Aussie Ian published the following about Valparaiso which might interest you: http://aussieemu.wordpress.com/2014/04/17/the-heartbreak-of-valparaiso/
    Were there any Easter Eggs for you? Hope you and H had a lovely Easter after that boring good Friday!🙂

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    • gerard oosterman Says:

      A very interesting link to Valparaiso. Thank you Uta. We had real eggs made in an omelette with fried tomatoes, parmesan cheese and fresh basil. We had a lovely Easter but are happy ‘normality’ has returned.

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      • auntyuta Says:

        Same here, Gerard, all of a sudden ‘normality’ has returned after having had a number of days spent with visitors. Dear visitors I might say. I wished they could come more often. Alas, some normality has returned: Peter and I are on our own again. Your omelette, Gerard, sounds pretty impressive!

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  6. berlioz1935 Says:

    Of course your post is of interest. As always, you are describing life.
    Good Friday is not the sombre affair it used to be. That changed after the war, when American “culture” spread across the globe.

    I wish we had more shopping free days during the year. Modern life is much too hectic and as I said somewhere else, we need more tranquillity to achieve contentment. And tranquillity is not to be found in the shopping centres and the bottle shops.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. gerard oosterman Says:

    Thank you Berlioz.
    I am not keen on shopping malls but do like people on and about. I love watching people while sipping a coffee in a busy street. Where we live is an easy ten minutes stroll from the shopping centre which is lively and has many interesting arcades with cafes and dress shops.
    After we had our fill from that we like the tranquillity of our home and love sitting in the garden just talking or having a sit around our Mexican chimeney which we fire up just for a bit of fire and warmth.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. berlioz1935 Says:

    We know Bowral well and like strolling along the main street and stop for a coffee or a meal. An then there is the book shop (Berkelouw) tucked away in the back of everything.

    We, too, like watching people. I think it is our inner need as a human being. Modern individualism has robbed us of the ability to do things together. We are herd animals and the clan, as an extended family. is our natural environment. That gave us warmth and protection.

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  9. kaytisweetlandrasmussen83 Says:

    Having traveled on Thursday, Friday arose as a welcome and pleasant day with family, an opportunity not often with us. Hope your fish and sourdough were fabulous.

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