Feeling a bit jet lagged and still getting used to the change of climate, I am looking at the beautiful view through a big panorama window that has been installed in this bedroom since the last time I stayed here. I can hardly believe that after more than a year I am in Valparaiso again! It is sunny and warm with a mild breeze coming in, keeping me from overheating. I woke up late and will rest today but tomorrow I will get up and out in good time!
I am quite excited about this visit to Chile – it might be my last one for a long time. I will be walking around the hills again to see how the city has changed in a year. I am looking forward to hearing people speak spanish with the soft Chilean touch that pleases my ear, and hopefully will be refreshing my own skills in both understanding and producing spoken ‘castellano’, which have been deteriorating due to lack of practice.
At the same time, I am a bit worried: yesterday, the first thing I encountered when entering Valparaiso along the main street was a little procession of demonstrators carrying small placards that said (to sum up) “Stop murdering dogs of Valparaiso!” I realized, of course, that this was about the very same stray dogs that I have depicted in my poem oda a los perros de Valpo, and that the idea of getting rid of them by killing them by the bulk, like they do in Romania, has also reached Chile now, and the methods are brutal. As you can probably deduce from the poem, my sympathies are with the dogs and these demonstrators.
Stray dogs are clearly an issue that Chileans have not yet managed to solve in a sustainable and humane way, not even in Valparaiso. Come to think of it, as far as I have seen so far, Valpo dogs have not been depicted in graffiti anywhere near as often as Valpo cats. But might they be becoming a more popular subject through the awareness-raising campaigns and demonstrations like the one I saw yesterday?
During this visit one of my focuses is to observe and reflect on how the environment, nature and animals in general enter graffiti, what kind of meanings are they given and by whom. I know that pieces showing awareness of nature have been painted, among them Equinoccio Otoño, which is the first finished work in a series of four huge murals symbolically depicting the four seasons of the year, painted by Unkolordistinto crew. I really wish I will be able to watch them carry on into the second part of the project – one of the other seasons – while I am in Chile!