I’m writing from Valparaiso, Chile! Unexpected news? Keep reading, everything will become clear. The journey from Australia to South Americahas been the longest of my life yet, and I wonder if I will top it sometimes - hopefully not! There was a connection scheduled between Melbourne and Santiago, in the airport of Auckland, New Zealand. The time off in what was the farthest country from home I could possibly reach was supposed to be 4 hours, but the LAN flight had a massive 6 hours delay so I had 10 hours to kill in the airport. “Killing time” isn’t actually the right expression, not since I have my computer always with me. I had written Mac Book Pro instead of “computer” but decided to change it as it might sound like Apple is endorsing me, which is sadly not true.
In the end, the plane took off at 22 from Auckland, and landed in Santiago eleven hours later, after crossing the entire Pacific Ocean and 14 (FOURTEEN) time zones. I slept quite a lot on the plane, so the result is that, as we landed, my head was tuned on Melbourne time: 7 in the morning, ready to begin the day. But with a time difference of 14 hours backwards, in Santiago the night was just beginning! For the first time, I kinda flew into the past: the plane took off at 22 and landed shortly after 17 of the same day. I am pretty sensitive to the jet lag, and I knew this whopping 14 hours shift would be a killer.
The only friend I have in Chile is Daniel, a guy I met in Rome in 2005, when he was studying architecture abroad. His partner Luisa came to pick me up at the airport; we went home where Daniel was done with work and waiting for us. What an emotion to meet again, five years later! Both of us changed, both of us beardy, we went all together for a walk on the San Cristobal hill, where among stories and laughs I had a great view on Santiago and the end offshoot of the Andes Cordillera! The picture isn’t great, but I was so excited that it is a must to include.
My goal was to go to Valparaiso, on the coast, directly after the airport. But because of the flight delay it was already night, and spending time with Daniel and his family was too much of a precious thing to do. The next morning I took a bus to Valparaiso.
Actually, this is the main thing I came to Chile for, and a big speed change in my travels. After two months of eye speed moving (with a little break in Geraldton), I felt like it was time to spend more time in one single place. To get to know it and its people better; to take time to study stuff and think about my projects, to get to know myself better; to try how it is to live in yet another country. A place which would be not too expensive, which would speak a new language to earn, a place where the weather would be good. The choice wasn’t hard to make. Chile. Why Valparaiso, then? For another Daniel-related reason. Back in to 2005, he was an exchange student in Rome… but his home university was right here where I’m writing from. He described me this town on the coast, the sea and the colors: I still have the notes I wrote on the Paua Lizard notebook that Fra (MS) brought me from New Zealand. Indeed, my travel plans for 2006 were originally for South America, all due to that fascination. That trip then became Central America and US, but that is another story. Now I finally got here: Valparaiso. If plans don’t change I will stay here for two months… at least.
Valparaiso is a harbor/university town on the coast, west of Santiago. It grew on many hills, which is also a fundamental part of its personality (more on this will follow). Check the houses in this (oversaturated) picture!
Except the city center at the sea-level, the rest is all ups and downs, like this little square where the central part is covered in graffiti: the strong presence of university students makes it a town rich in culture and events, and a not-too-young man watches with no surprise or disapproval a young girl updating the work.
I can’t really say yet, but living in a hilly town will probably re-add that third dimesion in a city development that I haven’t had since I moved to the Netherlands in 2007. To give an example, the hills are also visible at night: their lights are above almost any building in the city center, enriching the entire scene below.
There would be many more things to say, and there will be time for everything. But I can’t close this post without including a picture of the summer ocean and the other end of Valparaiso’s bay in the distance. See you in Chile!