So I find words I never thought to speak/In streets I never thought I should revisit/When I left my body on a distant shore. -TS Eliot
I'm sorry I haven't been doing the best job at keeping all of you updated. I've been busy! I leave Chile in less than a week, to go to Peru for about a week and a half before heading back to the US with my dad and sister. I can't believe how quickly this semester has flown by. I'll be back at LC soon!
I think the last major trip I talked about was the trip my program took as a group to the Atacama Desert- hard to think that that was nearly two months ago. I feel like I just got here, let alone went on that trip, which I had anticipated for three months before it happened. I don’t like to think about it.
Since that trip, I’ve found time between finals (often thanks to the student strikes, which cancelled some of my classes for a series of weeks at a time) to explore all around the 5th Region, where Valparaíso is located, as well as Santiago, and Chiloé, a large island at the northern end of Patagonia. I often find myself thinking geographically and trying to place certain stories on a mental map I have of the world in my head, so I’ll break this up by geographic regions:
La Quinta Región, The Valparaíso Region Valparaíso It would be silly not to start talking about my explorations around the Valparaíso Region without talking about Valparaíso itself. Because I live in Viña del Mar, the “twin city” to Valpo, I actually haven’t spent as much time in Valpo itself as I’d like to. Because of this, I’ve been making some efforts to spend entire days in the city, wandering the narrow streets through the hills and trying to find the best street art. It hasn’t been for naught.
An example of how many colors there are up in the hills. This is part of the “museo al cielo abierto,” or “open air museum” on Cerro Bellavista.
More colors, in Cerro Concepción.
A staircase I found on Cerro Bellavista, with very intricately painted steps.
If you aren’t watching the walls as you walk, it’s easy to miss a mural.
“Vamos hacia ti Valparaíso/somos tus olas/las que te volverán a poner de pie/capitán/las que arremangarán los cerros/de nuevo//nosotros somos/las olas que colgarán/en tus cordeles/casas de colores/como pañuelos o volantines/ahora nos toca/somos nosotros el viento/Valparaíso” “We go towards you, Valparaíso/we are your waves/that will come back to push you to your feet/captain/that will roll up the hills/again/we are/the waves that will hang/on your line/colored houses/like tissues or kites/now we are touched/we are the wind/Valparaíso”
A view of Valparaíso from Plaza Bismarck on Cerro Alegre.
Another mural on Avenida Alemania, one that’s popped up since I’ve been here.
A cat on a car Cerro Alegre.
Viña del Mar I know Viña pretty well, since I live here, but there are still some parts I hadn’t seen that I wanted to go to before I left.
One of these places was Cerro Castillo, which is a quiet, very rich hill overlooking downtown Viña. I had a nice time walking around by the fancy houses (that reminded me of the houses that overlook the lakes in the Twin Cities) and making friends with more street dogs.
The view of Viña from the hill.
I also went to a park that I didn’t realize existed, but that I wish I had known about. It’s called “Parque Quinta Vergara” and is big and full of trees and birds, and has some walking trails. I’ve been really missing greenery, so it was nice to walk around. They had a bunch of animals and dinosaurs made out of hedges, so that was especially fun. We also hiked up a hill and got another good view of the city.
The view of Viña from this hill.
The sunsets here are amazing, every night. This is in the middle of Viña.
Concón The other main city I’ve been going to in this region is Concón. I’ve been back there a few times, to the dunes, the beach, and, most importantly, the empanada restaurants.
another sunset seen from the dunes
A couple of weeks ago was the festival of San Pedro (Saint Peter), who I guess was the Saint of fish. Concón had a little parade that involved a boat being carried around, so we went and watched it.
the beach in Concón
Parque Nacional La Campana As our final class, my camping class went to a national park located in the 5th Region called “Parque Nacional La Campana,” home to Cerro La Campana, which is the tallest hill in the coastal mountain range and a hill that was once hiked by Charles Darwin. It was beautiful, but my camping class is ridiculous, so I didn’t have an especially good time (mainly because there were certain people in the class who I find super annoying, and the fact that we were camping REALLY BADLY. Like, we learned about leave no trace, then my profs dumped their tea bags on the ground because they “would decompose.” We also camped in a not-official campsite, surrounded by cow poop). Despite this, I did see a beautiful sunrise and sunset, so it was worth it.
La Región Metropolitana, Santiago Area Santiago I went into Santiago again, this time as a pit stop on my way to Pomaire, a town about an hour away from the city. We just stayed there for one night, but it was a nice little break from life in Valparaíso- especially because we found a place that served brunch, which the Portland-part of me was missing very much.
Pomaire Pomaire is a town that’s renown for its ceramics, and for good reason. There were ceramics EVERYWHERE, and for very cheap (most mugs were about $2.50). They also make these ceramic pigs, and empanadas that weight 1 kilo, so pretty much anything you could ever need.
an example of the ceramics
La Región de los Lagos, Chiloé The biggest trip I’ve done since Atacama was to Chiloé, an island in southern Chile. It was gorgeous, mystical, and amazing- one of my favorite places I’ve been to in Chile.
We left on a Wednesday night and got into Puerto Montt fairly later. We proceeded to check into THE BEST $18 a night place I’ve ever stayed in. It felt like a real hotel. We had a TV, a private room, a clean bathroom, and lots of blankets, because it was cold.
The next morning we started walking to a bus stop in order to catch a bus to the main bus terminal downtown, but ended up hitching a ride with the owner of the hotel, a nice old man.
a horse we saw on our walk to the bus stop
a dog outside of the bus terminal
We caught a bus to Castro, the biggest city on the island. It ended up being about a three hour bus ride, including a half hour stint on a ferry. We saw dolphins!
the ferry to Chiloé
Our hostel in Castro was amazing. It was warm and cozy and made entirely of wood and had a great fireplace. We ended up getting a room to ourselves.
Our hostel was a palafito, or a building on stilts in the bay. Chiloé is famous for its palafitos.
a close up of the palafitos during high tide
Our cozy hostel
Castro as a city is really nice. It reminded me a bit of Punta Arenas. It was quiet, and rainy, and small. There were a lot of colors in the buildings, especially the palafitos. The center of the city houses a big wooden church, one of 20-some churches on the island that are designated as world heritage sites.
some more colors at sunset in Castro
We used Castro as our home base, coming back each night and finding something or cooking something (cooking is something I haven’t done inforever, so I really appreciated it) and hanging out in our cozy hostel. One night we went out to see the opening game of the Copa América, the soccer cup that happened this past month. We found a nice little bar and made friends with the self-proclaimed “sea urchin king of Castro,” so that was nice. We ended up winning the game- and, this last week, the cup! For the first time ever!
Our first full day in Chiloé, we went to the national park on the island. It was beautiful. Part of it was along the Pacific Ocean, so we walked on a trail out to the sea and along the water for a ways.
the Pacific side of the national park
The other part of the park went through a temperate rainforest. It reminded me a lot of Oregon, and made me really happy.
Rainforest in the national park!
The next day, we went to a couple of little towns a couple of hours away from Castro. The first was called Dalcahue.
All of the towns had little artisan markets like this.
Dogs playing in Dalcahue
From Dalcahue, we caught a ferry to a smaller island, where we went to Achao.
Dogs in Achao
All of the towns were super cute and had good food. I really enjoyed being in little quiet towns again, and it was rainy, which I found very comforting. The whole island had this magical feel, like you were in a fairy tale. I would go back in a heartbeat.
The cutest dog I’ve ever seen. When she ran, she literally lept.
I’ve been up to a lot more besides these things, but this post is getting very long. I hope you enjoyed the pictures!