M/Cing to SA: Valparaiso

Valparaiso is not only Chile’s biggest port, but probably its most picturesque city. This shot of the harbor was taken from the neighborhood where we’re staying — close to the Naval Museum.

Valparaiso:  how a poet with a pig’s head really makes us want to learn Spanish

We had planned to make Valparaiso just a day trip from Santiago to test Now Voyager’s reliability until we learned that our hotel in Santiago was actually costing twice what we thought (Gee, they don’t post prices in US Dollars, but Pesos?).  KR said, “I’m done with Santiago anyway, let’s just go to Valparaiso and start the trip from there.”   Oh well, so much for the series of “safe” test rides in and around Santiago…

Valparaiso is about 120 kilometers (80 miles) west of Santiago, though the Casablanca valley which grows some of Chile’s best wines.  The road is freeway-like, which is the reason that its a tollway.   We leave relatively early Sunday, make one stop for coffee, and pull into Valparaiso shortly before noon.  I’m happy, but still skeptical, that we had no overheating problems with Now Voyager, although admittedly this has not been much of a test.

As is our habit, we don’t have the foggiest idea of where we’re staying.   Our itinerary planning intelligence is spot on as we approach Valparaiso, KR says, “It won’t be hard to find something, I don’t think there’s much there…”  So much for our one guide book.

The first pleasant surprise about Valparaiso comes almost immediately:  the first Starbucks I visit in almost 30 days.  We get a latte and ID some alternatives for a hotel.  After being burned by stupidity in Santiago, we’re focused on budget B&B’s.  KR pinpoints one called “The Yellow House” located somewhere in the hills.  I put the address into the Garmin and it says “no such street.”  How difficult could a yellow house be to spot, so off we go to the complete other side of town.

Almost six miles later, after winding up several Valparaiso streets that make Puerto Vallarta’s streets look well-maintained, we find The Yellow House nestled in the hills immediately above the harbor.  Great views, nice people, good price.  We move in and for the next 36 hours explore Valparaiso.

The situation as of 6:30PM on Monday, January 24th in Valparaiso

This has been a really good stop.  No problems with NV,  rather just a fun time playing tourists.  We plan on heading north along the coast tomorrow shooting for La Serena as our next destination.   While we are still not sure of NV’s health, we are set to venture north with our newly found good karma.  My hip is still hurting, but I’m able to hop along when required.   We plan on “eating in” tonight as we get ready for what feels like the start of our trip tomorrow.

We were surpised by the amount of activity in the Bellavista neighborhood we stayed in Part 2 of our Santiago stay. There were sure a lot of coffee houses, bars, restaurants — most of them filled with young(er) people. I was probably too busy dancing on the roof deck to notice that there were not one, but two, universities across the street.

KR couldn’t wait to start attaching various stickers to Now Voyagers rear boxes. Typically, she has bought antique decals of Juan Manual Fangio (Argentina’s five time world grand prix champion) to go with our location stickers. This dirt lot is also where I removed the rock guard from NV’s radiator in the hope that it would improve his ability to keep cool.

A little tit for the guys. I had dinner right underneath her left breast.

Blue babe is blue no more. KR and NV take a break in a town called Casablanca. I don’t think the movie was shot here.

Told you it would be easy to find. The Yellow House is about 100 years old and set in the hills toward the southern tip of the bay. Martin and his wife Lisette do a wonderful job and make one feel at home. Great place, great price, interesting people.

The epitome of efficiency.  Man and clothes get washed at the same time.  This system works amazingly well, but Zigy is right — cotton sucks!

The Yellow House is down this street, to the right.

Even on a Sunday, the port goes 24/7

As does the rest of the city.

After unpacking, we walk down the hill. From blocks away we can hear what sounds like to me as heavy-metal music. Sure enough, in a part of town that is deserted and free of “normal people,” we come upon a little square that has attracted the neighborhood’s heavy metal fans and every assorted drunk around. We sit down and listen to a series of bands, of which this fellow was the lead singer of one. He won’t be making the cross-over to the US

After a series of god-awful heavy metal bands play, the MC introduces this fine fellow. He goes to the microphone, then drapes it with the Chilean flag, puts on yellow rubber gloves, opens up a suitcase and pulls out a…. severed pigs head! He then begins to read a poem that excites SOME in the crowd. Here’ our poet in mid stream., obviously not impressing grandma, but the guy next to the pigs head seems to be hanging on each word. Only when we were stranded on Ruta G115 did I want to understand Spanish more.

For his finale, our poet crunches up his poem and tosses it into the fountain followed shortly by the pigs head. Both crumpled poem and pigs head were retrieved by one of his fans. You can’t make this kind of stuff up ‘ause no one would believe you

I guess this is family-style entertianment in a Valparaiso barrio?

The next day KR and I hit the public transportation of Valparaiso. Bus, metro and cab get us around town surprisingly well.

Now I don’t feel so bad about Now Voyager’s troubles. Horse-driven cab’s engine needed some new shoes.

The many faces of Chile.. We’re just beginning to discover them. Here’s some “wall art” that KR shot on garage doors, walls and fences in and around Santiago and Valparaiso

That’s it for now.  We’re going to have our first “night in” since we have kitchen privileges: A $2 bottle of white and some roasted chicken.  I’ll get out the Garmin and KR the Frommer’s and we’ll do some planning Walti style…

6 replies
  1. Gregg & Tish says:

    It seems the travels are improving, excellent commentary on the local scenery and ambiance – or lack there of. Look forward to the next update – be safe!

  2. Peter says:

    Your photo’s, that one in particular, they’re definitely getting my attention. But then, you know me.

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