Sunday, June 13, 2010

Sausalito/Viña del Mar - Celebrating a 50 Year Relationship

As indicated in a post last year, I only recently learned that Sausalito, the town where I live, has had a sister city relationship for the past 50 years with the Chilean coastal city of Viña del Mar. Through the efforts of Alex Geiger-Soffia, Chile’s Consul General in San Francisco, a bronze plaque to honor that significant anniversary was produced and was to be affixed to one of the elephant statues at the entrance to Viña del Mar Plaza in downtown Sausalito.

The ceremony to dedicate the plaque was originally scheduled for March 5. However, with the massive earthquake in Chile on February 27, the ceremony was understandable postponed.

Happily, while there is much work still to be done, the post-quake situation in Chile is continuing to improve and Consul General Geiger’s office and the Sausalito city administration decided to proceed with the dedication ceremony this past Saturday. It turned out to be a sunny and warm on Saturday – a perfect day for the event. Booths and tables were set up and there was a festive atmosphere in the Plaza.

The ceremony kicked off with comments by Sausalito’s Mayor, Jonathan Leone, and by Consul General Geiger. Then they moved to the statue for the unveiling.

After that, we were entertained with Cueca songs and dancing by a Bay Area-based Chilean dance troupe named the Araucaria Dancers.

Beverages (including, of course, Chilean wine) and food (some excellent empanadas from Café Valparaíso in Berkeley) followed.

One of the people I met at the event was Eugenio Ovalle, the General Manager of a travel service named Alta Tours which arranges tours to Chile and elsewhere in South American, Spain and Portugal. Eugenio is originally from Chile and, by way of historic coincidence, his father was Chile's Consul General to San Francisco in 1960 when the Sausalito/Viña del Mar relationship was established and the plaque celebrating that event, which is attached to the northern elephant statue in the Plaza, was dedicated. Below is a photo of Eugenio next to the plaque his father helped to dedicate, together with one he kindly took of me next to the new plaque.

It was a very nice ceremony. In addition to everyone else, special thanks should go both to Erin Stroud, the Event Coordinator at the Sausalito Parks & Recreation Department, and Jacqueline Jorquera at the Chilean Consulate, who both helped organize much of the event.

So now we have celebrated the 50th anniversary of this relationship with Viña del Mar. What’s next? Hopefully we will be able to find concrete ways to expand the relationship in the near future.

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