It was a beautiful morning yesterday, so I headed off to the Coast, specifically to the port city of Valparaiso.
On the way there however, I stumbled across the Changing of the Guard, at La Moneda, the Presidential Palace. I had forgotten that this happens every other day at 10.00 am, and as I was heading towards the Metro station at La Moneda I heard a brass band and followed the noise. Considering that this happens every other day it's quite a spectacle, and lasts for at least half an hour. Or put another way, after half an hour it was still going on, when I realised that I'd better get cracking and headed off to the Metro for my connection to Valparaiso.
Valparaiso, also known as Valpo, seemed to me to be the flip side to Santiago. While Santiago is tidy, orderly and reserved, Valpo is noisy, chaotic, messy, loud and dusty. Brightly coloured houses, with washing strung along the sides, sit perched in the hills, while the port throbs and heaves below.
It was a gorgeous day to visit, sunny and relatively warm (I think I got down to two layers only), but like Santiago, a
haze of smog hangs over the city. I walked through the busy streets in the downtown area and then caught a rickety little cable car up Cerro Concepcion, and ambled through the narrow streets and laneways, soaking up the atmosphere. There didn't seem like much else to do, and it was a nice way to spend the day. I found a cafe clinging to a hill, and enjoyed lunch while watching the world go by.
Today I woke to the sound of rain. Given I had seen all the museums I could cope with, and the rain being the final decider, I went to the rich part of town and spent the day in the mall. It was bland and soulless, filled with American chains, and could have been in any part of the world at all. The main reason however was for me to go to a movie. This turned out to the day's big adventure.
The cinema was being renovated and there were no posters anywhere, and with the exception of Alice in Wonderland, none of the movies' Spanish titles seemed familiar. So I picked a movie, based largely on the time it was showing. A
1.30 movie would give me enough time to look around the shops, grab some lunch, and then be on my way back to the B&B to pack. I had no idea what to expect. The only question I had asked was, "does it have subtitles?" as I couldn't bear the thought of watching a movie dubbed into Spanish. The movie, whose title began, "Los hombres que no amaban....", which roughly translates to "Men who didn't love....", didn't give me many clues as to what it was going to be about, and it was difficult to tell what kind of movie it was from the other patrons, three couples of varying ages. I awaited the opening scenes eagerly. It was to be the biggest disappointment of my Chilean holiday. Seconds into the movie I realised that it was "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo", in Swedish, which I had already seen, and lasts for three hours. I trudged out of the theatre before a word was spoken, defeated.
And now I am on my way to the airport. Eight weeks has flown by in a flash. My favourite country without a doubt was Colombia. However everywhere I visited seemed too
short, which means next holiday, Latin America is most definitely back on the list.
Next stop, Auckland.
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