April 21-24–Valparaiso

Val easily lives up to the universal recommendation of a the city not to miss in Chile.  It is an old, beautiful, decayed, artistic, very hilly, energetic and amazing city.  I´ll not try to compete with the guidebooks or poets.  I like Pablo Neruda´s description of yet another of his home towns (he also had homes in Santiago and Isla Negra):

how absurd
you are,
what a lunatic,
crazy port,
what a head –
rolling hills,
you never
finished combing your hair,
you’ve never
had time
to get dressed,
life has
surprised you,
death has awoken you,
in your nightshirt,…

The full Ode can be seen here:

I stayed in a hostel to which I took  one of the many ancient funiculars (of the 26 originals built in late 1800s and early 1900s, 8 are still in operation) that scale the hills.

If you´d like to know more about them, see:

On the way toward the Valparaiso bus terminal in Santiago, I approached a woman to ask which metro stop to take.  She said ¨I´m going also to Valparaiso, so just follow me.¨  We became friends right away, and she hung out with me and the 2 recently graduated high school students I met in Santiago (who stayed at my Val hostal) pictured below for a day when we rented a car to go to northern towns and beaches:

Ivan, Hari and Roberta

Ivan, Hari and Roberta

[I have no idea why the font changed or how to fix it] I joked with the boys about them not playing high school basketball (do Swedes play basketball?!) at 6´4¨when I did–our team was desperate.  Roberta is a grandma with a son and daughter and 2 grandkids, who has been divorced twice.  She studied English in Miami, where she fell in love with and married a Cuban academic.  After some years, she decided her mother and kids needed her, and wanted to join them.  He sadly gave her an ultimatum, him or the kids, and she left.  We talked about health and fitness, and we traded yoga and xi gong moves.  She´s an up front Pinochet supporter who said the communists came to middle class neighborhoods and threatened to take away their property.  
Below are some of the pics from our day trip north of Val.
Boat Shaped Bar of the restaurant where we ate in fishing village of Horcon

Boat Shaped Bar of the restaurant where we ate great seafood in fishing village of Horcon

One of many great coastal views

One of many wonderful coastal views


Flower Clock in Vina Del Mar

Flower Clock in Vina Del Mar

 I love Neruda– his commitment to his people, his beautiful, heartful and haunting poetry, his prankster self (for example, he had salt and pepper shakers labeled heroin and marijuana, and often dressed in costumes to play with his dinner guests), his passion and romanticism, his love of the sea, his using his homes as ongoing, creative adventures, his pursuit of old, recycled parts with which to build his homes (bars from shipwrecks, great old doors from junk yards, furnishings from all over the world, old windows), his hat collection, and I could go on.  Here are some shots from his Val home built from an abandoned house way up on a hill overlooking the port:
From Pablo´s Study Overlooking Port

From Pablo´s Study

Living Room With Large Table for Guests he Enjoyed

Living Room With Large Table for Guests he Enjoyed

Living Room Window

Living Room Window


More (and better) pics of Pablo´s 3 homes can be seen here:

I spent many hours wandering the streets gawking at the art covering so many buildings, expecially in an area below Neruda´s house that emphasizes art everywhere.  Here´s a taste:

image                                  image image                                                      image image   imageimage   image

Image of Pablo´s 2nd wife Mathilda, whom he nicknamed ¨wild hair¨

Image of Pablo´s 2nd wife Mathilda, whom he nicknamed ¨wild hair¨


As in all Chilean towns devastated by earthquakes, there is a mix of new and old structures.  Here are a couple examples of the older beauties:

image                    image

A couple miscellaneous shots:

image            image

But don´t settle for these, check out other amazing photos (someone overdid it with the color enhancement, though I can´t imagine the need to do so!):

I also met the first such person my age traveling the way I do on this trip–Jerry at our hostal.  He said he has been on the road for 30 months (about 3 to 6 months in each country),  which he called a short trip. He claims to be traveling until he dies, and therefore hopes that this is the very short end of his journey.  Jerry said he retired when his son finished college, and hit the road.  I asked if he raised his kid alone, and he said that he was married for over 20 years, and that one piece of business was to get a divorce before he started traveling.  Says his wife wanted to continue spending money as they had and living in the same place.  He wanted to stop making money and travel.  He chided me for missing Carol, wondering why I´d miss a wife.  He commented that he and his wife made an agreement when they were married: she would be right 50% of the time, and he would be wrong 50% of the time.  I let him know that Carol is making all the money, and that we both understand I´m right all the time:)

If you´re planning on traveling to Mexico, Central or S. America (at this point or elsewhere in the future), I recommend his very detailed blog that outdoes the guidebooks in some ways:

My favorite graffiti on a set of city steps:  Donde hay justica, no hay problemas.  Where there is justice, there are no problems.

One thought on “Valparaiso

  1. Our older daughter spent a summer in Vina del Mar. Met college friends who were in Santiago visiting their grandparents. Miami of Ohio Latin Studies prof was Chilean and suggested going to Chile instead of Argentina due to political issues there at the time. Loved both countries, snowboarded in the Andes. Isabel Allende was in DC several years ago. Younger daughter stood in a long line to get a signed book for her sister. Love her books and other Latin American authors..


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