¨Born in Santiago, corporate slave until my late 20’s, I gave up my career to finally satisfy my thirst for knowledge and new experiences. I am well-travelled and I can flirt in 4 languages over a bottle of wine, whisky and/or beers (!) I lived in France and China for a couple of years before coming back to Chile in order to fall in love with my beautiful country. I have developed a true passion for photography (still learning!) that makes my world go round lately and I love food¨.
Some Questions with Yorka
1) Where is your favorite spot in Santiago?
Lastarria/Bellas Artes Neighbourhood. You can easily spend an afternoon walking around in the park and then ending your day with a nice dinner and drinks; many choices of good restaurants.
2) Where is your favorite spot in Chile?
So far, I have two: the Elqui Valley/ the 4th Region in summer time (so many Pisco sour cocktails!) and San Pedro de Atacama in winter (when the desert is covered in snow!)
3) Favorite place to eat in Santiago?
I couldn’t pick just one! It just wouldn’t be fair!
4) Top tips for visitors to Chile?
The best wines are not always the most expensive ones; avoid metro at rush hour; if possible, head north to San Pedro de Atacama; try sea-urchin because many ugly things taste great!
5) Your favorite spot to photograph in Chile?
Valparaiso. The camera loves its colors and unique architecture!
6) Your camera and preferred lenses?
I have a Canon G15, a Canon sx210, a Nikon d5300 (broken now!) and a Nikon d3300. Lenses, I use 18-55 mm, 50 mm, 18-105 mm and a 55-200 mm.
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If there is one place that stirs my soul, calls to me and befuddles me, it is Valparaiso. This city is equal parts beautiful, ugly, maddening, exciting, awe inspiring and bewildering. This is the place that for hundreds of years saw the arrival and departure of Chile´s visitors, and was even pillaged by pirates.
The Spanish birthed the city as a port, naming it Valparaiso de Arriba – a completely unoriginal name considering that it was bestowed a further six times across the globe and in multiple locations in Spain itself. The English nicknamed the city Valpo, which has affectionately stuck, but perhaps its most interesting name would have to be Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes del Puerto Claro.
As a port, Valparaiso wasn´t very good – it was far too open during storms – so work began in 1912 to improve it. Land was reclaimed over a period of 18 years resulting in a quay and breakwater that number 700m long and 20 storeys in height. Although the opening of the Panama Canal greatly affected Valparaiso in the past, today the port is thriving with copper and fruit exports, as well as cruise ships.
Valparaiso is also the headquarters of the Chilean National Congress
It has the oldest stock exchange Latin America
The first public library opened here
The Picunche and the Chango people were the original indigenous inhabitants
In 1814 the Battle of Valparaiso was fought between British and the United States ships, as part of the War of 1812
Plaza Victoria was the location of slave trading. Slaves would be brought by boat to Buenos Aires, from there they would cross the Argentine pampas and the Andes by foot before arriving into Valparaiso and taken to Lima. Many would die of hunger, exhaustion, disease and even suicide.
Places To See
Paseo 21 de Mayo for the best views over the harbour and its where you can find the Naval museum and the furnicular Artilleria (Cerro Artilleria)
La Sebastiana, former home of the Nobel Prize winning poet Pablo Neruda
Plaza Sotomayor, which is also the headquarters of the Chilean Navy, and where you can join a shared or private boat trip of the harbour
Cerro Concepcion and Alegre (visit Color Cafe for cheap, GOOD food in quirky shabby chic!)
Palacio Barburizza, an art museum, located in the Paseo Yugoslavo
Ascencor Polanco, which is a vertical lift taking you up to the viewing deck of a watchtower
Museo del Cielo Abierto, a series of eclectic murals created between 1969 and 1973. Take Ascensor Espiritu Santo
Explore the Mercado Cardonal and the Mercado Puerto (latter under reconstruction)
Museo Lukas, to discover more about local cartoonist Lukas
Mirador Diego Portales for amazing city views
Note: This city is built for walking – on foot. Pushchairs and even wheelchairs will have a harder time, particularly as some of the most interesting places involve a stairway.
Suggestion: Why not combine a trip to Valpo with one of the Casablanca Valley wineries? Casas del Bosque is reputedly the best, or try House of Morande (family friendly), the Casa Botha restaurant (great food), Attilio & Mochi (independent), Bodegas RE (organic + traditional) or Matetic (heaps of activities!)?
It has the power to transport you in time and, from just that one second, it has the power to open up a whole new world. In other words, it shows you how to really see the stories that are all around us, in the flower, a smiling child´s face or in the marvellous vista before you.
Ever since I have begun playing with my camera, I have learnt just how much work goes into creating those images. Before you even start editing, you have to think of the photo you want to take. What is the subject? Where should they be positioned? What lens to use? What settings to set? How are the colours balancing out? And once all of this is sorted, you can begin playing around with effects, view points and work on extracting the story that exists in every blink of the human eye.
I booked a session with Tamsin because a) she comes highly recommended and b) because I don´t think there is a greater gift than a beautiful photo. Tamsin is a professional photographer specializing in portraits and hails from the sunny UK, though she has lived in Chile for the last 9 years. She began her photography business in 2012 and shoots on a Canon 6D, utilizing a variety of lenses perfect for portraits. She has also begun branching out into video, creating a keepsake of short segments set to music that showcase all the little details and interactions that make up your family dynamic. This is an idea that she is really excited about – I can´t think of a better wedding or family memento!
What I loved about our photo session is that Tamsin is very encouraging and warm, plus she was open to all my ideas (even if they didn´t quite work or if they meant getting a bit wet!?). Even better, she knew exactly how to shoot what I wanted, and the pictures have turned out so unique.
Tamsin´s Photography Tip for Beginners:
A photography tip for beginners is to pick up that camera and practice! Whatever camera it may be, the best way is to delve right into it. Try and veer off from using the automatic setting and don’t be afraid of making mistakes. And also don’t start buying all the expensive gear to begin with, start small and slowly work your way up.
Tamsin is offering half price off of her video keepsakes – please get in touch here!
The Expat Spotlight series introduces you to expats (like me!) who have made Chile their home. I specifically choose to highlight people who I think exemplify what it means to be an expat: those who embrace Chile and give something back. You can read other stories here:
If you are wondering why I haven´t written in forever, it is not just because I have two children under 4. I actually have a new love and it´s not my laptop or my pen, I´m afraid. Instead 2017 has been the year where I have finally decided to make my dream a reality and learn a bit about the art of taking photos. Right after I made this decision, a fellow mum in the Discover Chile: English Speaking Moms in Chile group (Facebook) put up a DSLR for sale, and right at that moment I had some money saved up and I thought – why not?
This seems like an appropriate moment for some hashtags:
This is the site where I am teaching myself from – she explains SO well , especially if you are like me and are totally new to this aperture thing.
Over the last two months, I have taken a CRAZY amount of photos and I absolutely love it! Here are some of my favorites – I hope they provide a good overall picture of this wonderful country I call home.
PLEASE leave me some feedback, tips, pointers or share your images with me!!
You can follow me on Instagram @milesandsmilesantiago
I love taking photos, and anyone who is friends with me on Facebook or Instagram will know that! I really enjoy looking back because, as the years pass, it can be hard to remember the million and one sights and emotions that are experienced when you travel. Here are my favorite travel shots I have taken – may they awaken the travel lust within you!
Continuing on with the Expat Spotlight series, this week I introduce you to artist Hoda Madi. Hoda hails from Iran and has lived all over the world, but has called Chile home since 2012. You might remember her from my previous blogs as a sponsor of Ojos Abiertos or as the mind behind the Art Expression programme for children. Here she explains a little bit more about her vision, her art and her passion for Chile.
Thanks for agreeing to be interviewed Hoda! Tell us a bit about you.
Hi! I moved here in 2012 after a conversation with a friend about Chile. I came over when my son was 15 for one month. Three years later and we are still here, and my son is now at university in Santiago studying architecture.
As a dentist, I feel that I help people by reducing their pain, but if someone just buys a painting I don’t have that same feeling like I’ve done something good in the world. Being an artist is not just a job. So I started the “Universe of Love” series, so that every time someone looks at a painting they’ve bought from me they know they’ve helped to do some good, somewhere.
What do you mean? Sounds intriguing!
It’s an idea that came to me in Chile. With each painting I try to send love back into the universe so I donate 20% of each painting sold to charity.
What charitities have you been involved with?
Besides Ojos Abiertos, there have been many. One time I gave 50% to the “Si Me Importa” event to rebuild after the 2010 earthquake. I also regularly give to the Rotary Chile society, which they then put towards various projects.
What is your art style?
I do abstract paintings with acrylic as well as abstract detailed photography. I also like to incorporate the female form and sand from all over the world.
You love Chile, Hoda. How do you show that in your work?
As an amateur astronomer, the Atacama desert has always been my dream place to visit. I have been twice, and it was after a recent trip to the Atacama that I began the “Hidden Colors of the Desert” set. I took photos of abandoned mines – because on first impression the desert is just sand and sky but there are really so many colors! Afterwards I express these photos into paintings, using sand from the Atacama. The concept is a different way of seeing something. For example, if I look at photographs from the Hubble telescope and then look through my own telescope, I’m seeing a different expression of the same but through a different medium.
Photos from the Atacama
Why do you like to paint the desert?
Because there is a sense that everything is way bigger than our life as a human on Earth, It’s the best place to be connected to the universe.
You give so much back. Why?
Life is a funfair – we’re all sharing a free ride so why not help each other out along the journey?
I’ve already written about your work last year in Conchali. Are there any things that stand out from that time for you?
There are so many! There was a girl in prekinder that the teacher warned us not to push because she was always crying. In the first class we were all singing and dancing the song “Happy” while she sat in the corner alone. She later came over wanting to take part. Next class she joined in singing with the others and with each class we saw her blossom before our eyes. The teacher told us when we finished how much she had changed. There was also a boy in Kinder that I remember was so scared, always needing to go to the toilet because he was that stressed. He kept saying “I can’t paint! I can’t paint!!” and he’d draw a line and call us over to check it was ok. After two sessions we couldn’t get him to stop talking or drawing!
Sounds like you were doing something really special with those children!
We really were, and it wasn’t just the children either. In our very first class I remember the teacher shaking her head, horrified by the dirty hands, saying “que desastre!” over and over again. But with each class she loosened up and was soon laughing and painting alongside the children. You could visibly see her relax and become more connected to the children, which made a huge difference with the class dynamics. Art has the ability to show you another way – it can even make you money. I wanted to show that to these children, that there was another way for them. I used to see it with my son. He’d come home from school banging the doors and hiding in his room, and he’d never talk to me. So I started to go to him with paper and a pencil and we’d just draw together, not talking, and he would calm down.
What is your favorite place in Santiago and in all of Chile?
In Santiago I love to go to either Barrio Paris y Londres, or Barrio Lastarria. In Chile, it’s all about the Atacama for me. I can go over and over again and still feel like its my first time. Pica is an oasis in the middle of the desert that you won’t believe exists in such a harsh landscape, and Pisagua is a small port right at the junction of desert and sea. The desert slopes down into the town, and almost right to the waves.
What is your goal for 2016?
My goal is to take my Hidden Colors of the Desert work to Miami. I am going to continue my work with my Art Expression program and I’ll also be going back as a volunteer with Universidad de Chile’s Clinica Cuidados Especiales. In 2015 I worked every week in Independencia with this initiative, as a dentist with special needs patients who come from all over Chile to receive care. This year I shall be working on a project based upon these encounters. I’ve already ordered the canvasses to begin, the idea being that I will paint the beautiful connections I see between patients and their families. It’s not a sad story – it’s not about painting sad art – it’s actually very much about beauty and love. When it’s finished I am going to invite the families of the patients to attend the exhibition, with money going back to help children in similar situations but who don’t have any support around them.
Can you tell us a bit about your time at this clinica?
It can be really difficult but it’s the only time I’ve ever really enjoyed my work as a dentist. The patients are just pure love, and there is a sense of beauty that cannot be described when you see how they are cared for by their families. I remember a time this one patient with Down Syndrome had to have his teeth seen to. He was so scared, shouting and crying and we couldn’t calm him down. His sister – who had spent her life caring for him – held his hand and sang him his special song and he calmed down instantly. She kept singing the whole time I worked on his teeth. Another time a 12 year old with Crystal Skin disease [Epidermolysis bullosa] was so distressed that general anaesthetic was being considered. I stepped in at the last moment to talk to her. She immediately spotted my funny Spanish. “Why do you talk like that?” she asked me and so I told her that I knew what it was like to be scared, especially because I couldn’t talk properly. I asked her if she would let me see her teeth. She allowed me to and after a while she let me work on them, stopping every now and then when she felt scared or some pain. No-one could believe the change! We are friends now and she’s just like every other teenage girl following the latest trends!
You have so many unbelievable stories! Thanks so much Hoda and all the best for the year ahead. Any final words you want to end on today?