Surfers for Cetaceans Chile Tour - Part 2
[Showing off the Visual Petition in Valparaiso, Chile. Please consider adding your own photo to the petition if you haven't already. Photo courtesy of Surfers for Cetaceans]
Heading to Valparaiso we drove through the countryside watching the sun beams shine in between the grape vineyards extended to the horizon. Valparaiso is one of the largest port towns in Chile, and is known for its colorful murals and mosaics on every street corner. The town itself looks like a mosaic from afar with all the different colored houses lining the hillside. Artist and surfer Chris Del Moro joined the crew to contribute to the creative quiver. We made our way to the city center to unravel our Visual Petition banners to display in front of the “Armada De Chile” which drew a curious crowd.
We were off in a rush to make it to the next town on our list, San Antonio. Just a few hours south, we made it on time to catch the fishermen and families in protest, and were asked to join them for lunch. The fishermen in San Antonio are taking notice of the massive reduction in fish count, and the loss of cultural connection with the ocean ecology in general.
We met that night with the founder of the Natural Museum in San Antonio, Jose Luís Brito. He described that it is hard to explain to people in the area about ocean awareness and sustainable fishing practices, because most of the town people are very deprived and depend on the ocean for food resources. He also suggested that because of population expansion from inlanders, they do not have as strong a cultural connection with ocean as they did in past generations.
Just across the street from the protest, Howie Cook, Chris Del Moro and I started yet another Whale mural next to a mural done by local artist/youth worker Loreto Ramirez. Our time in San Antonio was short, but very informative on the current ecological and political situation of marine life in the area.
We made our way down the coast to Puertecillo, a very small village on the sea. The villagers export seaweed known as Cochallullo all the way to Japan. Another export is a fish called Corvina that averages about 31 pounds. Down the beach from our cabanas lay a nice left peeler that runs down the sand bottom point. Needing to wash off the off-road driving scum after getting lost we made it just in time for a much needed session. Howie set up his beautiful tipi, which made for a great addition to the already stunning scenery. After our surf session we started a bonfire to roast some Cochallullo we scrounged up. It has an interesting texture, kind of like trying to eat a wetsuit, but very tasty. During the next few days at Puertecillo we made our way to a few pounding point and beach breaks, and were greeted by world famous surfer Joel Parkinson, who will be joining the tour for a few weeks.
Rolling out of Puertcillo at dusk we made our way south to Pichilemu, into our lodge tucked in the eucalyptus-enriched hills above the surf break Punta de Lobos. Waking up to a view of the point, and a developing swell we rushed down to see the point in action. Surfing Punta de Lobos for a few days with local big wave surfer Ramon Navarro was a great experience.
One of our nights in Pichilemu we joined Rodrego Farias, organizer of the Pichilemu Surf Festival, to present his film Chile Oculto, and our slide show of the Visual Petition and Whale footage taken in Byron Bay, Australia. We also met up with environmentalist and Chilean Program Director, Joshua Berry from the Save the Waves Coalition. He screened the trailer for his up and coming movie called All Points South. Local artists also presented some of their works, and three local bands came to play after the movie. We spent the rest of the night taking over a great restaurant in town, singing, drinking wine and shouting environmental facts and silly jokes across the table. It was a nice night to get the whole crew of 19 together in a non-working environment to unwind. It was time to move on to our next destination six hours south on a dirt road to a little village in the Buchupureo area.
Passing through valleys and hills filled with farmed pine and eucalyptus trees was a stark reminder of the environmental issues that Chile is facing right now. Every few minutes we would pass a wood pulp mill, what they call an “Industrial Forestry Complex” in Chile. There have been many protests surrounding the impacts of the mills in the towns and villages in which they reside -- pollution, being the main concern, due to toxic water runoff and air pollution. In the 150K of coastline alone there are over 54 mid- to large-sized mills.
We are now in the Buchupureo enjoying the peace and tranquility of the place. Although yesterday, from the point break looking back at land, you could see blank spots on the hills with the occasional glimpse of a bulldozer, and the sound of destruction.
Tomorrow (June 19) we are heading down to Concepcion where we will be meeting with Mapuche representatives and the Students Federation at University de la Purisima Concepcion, to discuss environmental issues, and our concerns with the Chilean Cetaceans.
To check out more info and blogs about our trip visit www.chiletour08.com.
To upload your VISUAL PETITION, visit www.visualpetition.com.
Here's a really cool postscript from Crystal: "Jack just sent us this clip in support of our Chile trip. It's a clip from his tour in the states just a few days ago."
Finally, some more photos from this leg of the trip:
[All photos courtesy of Crystal Thornburg and Surfers for Cetaceans]