Posts Tagged ‘Valparaiso’

Bees and other revelations.

March 16, 2015
Salvia

Salvia

  With the Salvia now having taken over most of the garden, bees have descended upon those nodding flowers by the hundreds if not thousands. After a few days under this wonderful siege, we left them alone. The buzzing noise and hyper activity made Milo the Jack Russell nervous. Hanging the washing outside carried an increased risk of getting stung by an over- excited bee if not covered in salvia pollen as well…Some of the Salvia beads of flowers had multiple numbers of bees scrambling for a place inside the flowers. There were disagreements between them, and despite some of the older more wiser bees trying to mediate, try and keep peace, there was nothing much we as mere humans could do except pack a couple of bags, some wooden sandals with water, also bread and some mild salami to seek temporary salvation ourselves. It could well be that salvia’s potent hallucinatory substance affects bees in a hostile way. The science is still out on that one. In America there are a few states that have put Salvia on the list of forbidden plants and anyone caught with it could be charged with drug offence. Beware when travelling in the US of using mint in your soup! In any case, we could not pontificate forever about what bees might or might not be capable off. We drove somewhat in an uncertain fashion but generally following the orange sun in a east-south-westerly direction and just before dusk managed to get into a place that had a bed with soft pillows but a firm mattress. The building had seen better more jovial times but the host was buxom and justifiably friendly as is often the case with soft fronted women, especially if they have names such as Maria, Barbara, Josephine and Virginia, (but not so much if Gertrude, Kate or a Mavis). We asked for a later than usual breakfast and explained about our reason for departure from our home due to bees being temporarily frenzied by sweet Salvia and pollen. She understood and told us the story how her parents had to sell their grand mansion in Chili’s Valparaiso  and move when their garden became a rehabilitation unit not only for the politically driven mad, infirm and the marital unstable but also for Salvia addicted bees. Her mother found it easier to counsel the infirm and mad than a frenzied bee. They left for shores named Australia. photoSalvia Nr2 We were lucky to have found this place as week-ends are usually booked out in advance. They had a cancellation from a couple who were needed for a fund raising to buy a property taken over by bees as well. We were somewhat alarmed and uneasy by this notion. Our next door room was taken by a rather corpulant couple. They seemed to be in a cheerful mood and each time we met in the corridoor they laughed heartily at almost everything we spoke to them.  It was infectious and I found myself soon laughing spontaneously as well. The bed and breakfast was guarded by a couple of mastiffs who just gave us a somewhat desultory sniff between our feet to let us pass each time we came home from our walks in a nearby dense forest of tall eucalypts and she oaks.  The bees were in profusion here as well but on the whole friendly and non-intrusive. Of course we stayed away from the hives that some of the town’s folk had put there to possibly supplement meagre incomes and keep some errant male retirees busy and off the streets.  We noticed an elderly deeply wrinkled man without any protective gear shaking the honey  from the combs  in a hand driven centrifuge. All he did to calm the bees was smoke a pipe and with gentle breaths pacified the busy bees. They obviously knew him and his particular brand of pipe tobacco. We stayed for three nights and with some sadness said goodbye to our kind host and drove back home. We were pleased to be back, rejuvenated and with some jars of honey as well. The Salvia bees had gone and all was as before, peaceful and sweet.

Good Friday and Valparaiso.

April 19, 2014
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