If the rest of Chile is like Valparaíso (I suspect it isn't) then I never want to leave. (Our hostel is at the top of this hill. On the far right of the photo is an ascensor, one of the 12 ancient elevators that help you get around the city's steeper bits).It's really a city like none other (I sound like a Lonely Planet guide, I know). I still withhold from gushing about the incredible graffiti so Wes can talk about it, but the amount of art splashed all over the walls of buildings, everywhere, is just about the most active examples of public artistic expression I can imagine. I wish every US city was like this. It is amazing. So beautiful. Okay, I'm gushing, sorry.
We're also been going to the beach a lot in Viña del Mar, which is essentially where all the really rich people from Valparaíso hang out. It's actually kind of gross. There's a Starbucks, and Cadillac Escalades, and horse-drawn carriages along palm lined streets and promenades, which not only is weird and hilarious after working on farms with horses a few hours from here, but kind of sad that the yucky parts of our culture have wormed their way in here (and also weird in comparison to nearby Valpo, which is so great precisely because it's so gritty and colorful and improvised). But still the beaches are amazing and the waves have been huge (like 8 feet! HUGE!)(and we saw a girl from our hostel on the beach holding hands with a different boy whose hand she had been holding that morning- scandalous!). Also, per usual, I got pretty badly sunburned the first day (but soon I will be gloriously tan!)
So more importantly (have I told you guys this already?) the postres in Valpo are amazing. There are pastry shops on every corner peddling berliners and mil hojas and churros filled with cream and dulce de leche- and when they're all about seventy five cents, it's hard to resist. A friend from our last farm (yay Heather!) is currently travelling with us, and her family also has a inheritable chocolate gene, so we've been bad influences on each other. One day we discovered a lunch deal that included a dessert of leche con arroz with raspberry mousse and thus were forced to buy the whole meal (this is what happens when Wes lets us out on our own). We also discovered MARSHMALLOWS in one of the super markets- they have zero marshmallows in Argentina so camping hasn't been quite the same. Needless to say we're bringing two bags back to Mendoza with us.
Today we went to this really awesome local bar to have a beer (the first time I wrote that, I spelled it 'bear.' You don't drink bears, bears drink you!) and watch the Real Madrid vs Barcelona match (p.s. watching any game with Messi in Argentina is a total riot)- the bar is a big soccer watching bar, really aesthetically engaging, and fairly cheap, so we were really excited to be there about to watch the game and kick it. So excited that we got there half an hour early - really dorky, but totally necessary as it turns out, because when the Direct TV in the bar wasn't working, everyone (we're talking like thirty people) rushed out in search of another bar leaving their unpaid half-full drinks on the tables (which seemed to be totally expected and acceptable to the bartenders and waitresses). So by the time we left, we immediately could tell which bars were playing the game on Direct TV because there were crowds of men outside the door, sometimes 5 people deep, watching the game through the windows. Okay long story short, they really like soccer here (and less than 10 bars in Valpo have Direct TV).
OH MAN and okay wait for it- for Easter, Valpo has the most outrageous tradition in the world. In the center of the nearby plaza (and in plazas across the city), after dark porteños gathered to celebrate Easter by blasting metal music while burning a twenty foot dummy of Judas tied up to a platform- no, really, this is a family and community affair. The girls from the local school put on traditional Chilean dance before little boys (dressed as pigs in suits) set Judas ablaze. The whole thing kind of reminded me of Guy Fawkes day, but with more little old ladies listening to head-banging metal. Every year each neighborhood chooses different Judas (we didn't know who it was this year, but it was some political figure--though someone in the crowd shouted that it should be Ricky Martin.) so he looked like a blond guy wearing a suit, which made us a little apprehensive at first. I can't even imagine a starker contrast to our Easter and its sugar marshmallow rabbits, sweet pastel Easter outfits, and Easter egg hunts. The Judas celebration was hilarious. Pictures are forthcoming.
Oh!!!!! and we went to step class, which was awesome! Although apparently I was clapping and stomping harder than anyone else in the room (what?! So I'm enthusiastic! I've got spunk!) and people were laughing at me (Heather said I was good, though!). But after Bari and I have idolized the Crimson Dynasty for years (I'm too lazy to explain what that is to you laypeople), I have finally discovered all of their secrets. Next time I run into Kalifa at a party, I'll show her who's cold as ice! Also all the guys who ride around the gas trucks are constantly drumming on the canisters, which makes for constant rhythm in this city. Not really related to stepping aside from the rhythm thing.
Unfortunately I think we're finally leaving tomorrow (because we've already stretched our time here for a week longer than originally planned, and because Chile is really expensive, and to say we are extremely tight on money would be an understatement) - we're returning to Mendoza for a bit to do some more farming, hiking, and hopefully a soccer game/wine tour. Okay! That's all for now (Wes promises he'll do a post soon!) ! Besos y abrazos!