Published: January 2nd 2007January 1st 2007
A short story of the dogs, cats and rats (of the sky) of Valparaiso:-
With a pisco sour in hand and 4 hours until the fireworks display and the ticking of the time clock here in Chile into the new year I have time to reflect on the dogs, the cats and the rats of Valparaiso.
You see there is a pecking order here in this wee port town about two hours west of Santiago. As in all typical port towns there is the seedy underbelly by which everything ticks. the cats. and the palatial prestige that sit above it, just content knowing that the engine is running smoothly. the dogs. then there are the rats.
We arrived fresh, clean and innocent to the slow churning of the port town Valparaiso and checked into our hostel a short walk from the bus terminal. This should ring some warning bells in the ears of any traveller … however with NYE approaching and prices sky rocketing faster than fireworks in the Sydney sky, we, bright eyed and bushy tailed put our packs down and opened the windows to inhale the finest pollution the country has produced. If you can imagine sitting at
the back of a semi-trailer’s exhaust pipe and sampling the serenity, then you are close to the fumes we took in from our hostel room. this combined with the pleasure of a sound level something akin to sleeping on the medium strip of an 8 lane highway, or under a jet engine, if this seems too remote.
this was no way to start our tranquil beach holiday.
not at all what we wanted to sign up for.
they say that the kaleidoscope of colours is the worthy main attraction of the city, so we set foot onto our dusty, fume ridded street and set forth to discover the beauty that had eluded us thus far.
we walked until our feet were sore, to find an abundance of sea faring pubs and clubs where one could easily imagine a scene from Popeye being enacted out infront of you … drunken sailors yielding broken bottles …
you see, it appears that the ranking order is quite clearly set. the cats are everywhere. at first glance you would think this is a city for cats. however, they only get to roam the streets, and collect the juicy left overs from the fish mongers
selling street side. a tasty and prosperous existence, no doubt, however nothing as lavish as the dogs. the dogs hold primer place. they get to sit in the cars, welcomed into homes and eat of the plates of diners in restaurants.
then you get the rats (with wings).
need I say more?
until this time, it would be fair to say that the Dutchman and I were assimilating more closely with the rats than the other animals of the story. until news from a little birdy in the form of a call from an Aussie bloke and his Chilean wife with the good news that a room had become available in their hostel.
with some cleanliness and some ´peaceful hush´ surrounding us we now anticipate the show in the sky that will prevail in a few hours time with dignified alcoholic drinks in hand.
maybe we will see this city from the other perspective
PS: we did do a lot of mileage on foot, seeing the houses, even all the way to Pablo Naruda´s house (Nobel Prize for literature in 1971), and did dare our lives, twice, in an ascensor (which is halfway between a funicular and
a lift, but from the outside looks like an old fish and chip cart on an uneven shopping trolley)..... so we did see plenty here as well, but again, had to build in a strategic recovery day.... new year´s day of course....
There are more photos below