Thursday, September 23, 2010

Valpo to Santiago

Well, the long awaited celebrations came and went. There was a huge fair set up steps from our place and at nights the music was booming so loud that our window panes shook. People were drinking chicha and dancing cueca until 4 in the morning. There was also lots of vendors selling traditional chilean food (read - meat). We did not know, but our CS guests told us that street dogs were said to be missing shortly before the feria opened. It did not seem improbable, you just had to get a smell of the meat being fried on coals - it was definitely not fresh, and it did not taste like beef...
During our last few weeks we have hosted a lot of people through CouchSurfing. Our guests were mostly French, and most of them new to the CouchSurfing concept. Among our guests were exchange students from Valdivia, a main-stream travelling couple, a group of 5 (4 girls and 1 guy) law students, and a professional paraglider pilot. All of them from France!
The paraglider pilot took us out of town to try his wing out. The experience seemed more similiar to hitch-hiking than flying - two hours in a bus to get out of the suburbia, a long walk with backpacks looking for the ¨spot¨ and then a sunset on the beach. Gerard did take off and flew for a bit. He then gave us a short introduction and we pulled the thing up in the air, pulling it along the beach.
On our last night in town, Gabriela and Robinson, our Chilean friends, invited us to the ¨bicentenario¨dinner at Gabriela`s parents` place. When we arrived, the empanadas prepared by her mother, were hot out of the oven, the food was plentyful and delicious, and the night was the most appropriate conclusion to our month.long stay in Valparaiso.
Next morning we cleaned our room, dealt with the old grandma running the place and went to see the Navy Parade. The event did not take place since the 1810, so people were very excited. We went to the look-out and waited. The air shook with war planes flying low over the city, and then the war ships motored by the pier, where all the generals were sitting. When the fighter jets flew by and there was no end in sight of the column of the ships, we decided we saw enough of the military ¨defile¨ and headed for the bus station, it being too late to try to hitch-hike out the same day. We do not pretend to be purists, so once in a while we do things we usually try to avoid. The bus departed in a few minutes, and we were in the capital two hours later. Here, we had a CS contact, so we headed straight there (or so we thought). When we were looking for the address on google map, the system pointed us to a street that was nowhere near the real location. Convinced of the reliability of Google, we headed there. An outsirt neighbourhood, 20 subway stations from the true address. Not bad. We asked at a corner store, and the old man scratched his head and told us that we are very far away. He then called our host and put us on the bus heading our way. Shortly after, we were at the door of German and Gemma, our hosts. They live across the river from the downtown, and breathtaking views open from their tall windows. They were having a roof-top barbeque party, so we mingled with the friendly people to be found there and went to sleep pretty late in a room of our own.
We have stayed for four days now with them. We went to see a light-show on the Moneda Palace, helped to move some furniture, went to see the fairy-tale Cerro Santa Lucia, and even witnessed a sword-fencing practice, of which German was the master.

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting as usual however no photos this time. Hope you will publish them soon.:))