Thursday, June 5, 2008

Valparaiso (I´m Well Aquainted with the Works of Pablo Neruda)

Desperation has set in as the international leg of our trip is now hours from being over. With that anxiety in mind, we decided to squeeze one more city onto the itinerary. Valparaiso is a seaside town with rolling hills hugging the port. The hills are covered with all forms of brightly colored, dilapidated structures made from combinations of corrugated metal and stone. The fact that the city experiences quite a bit of earthquakes combined with the, admittedly beautiful, slapdash structures gave an element of danger to our visit.

The problem for Kristi and me is that in the entire 9 months we have been out of North America, we have had exactly 10 days of bad weather. We have grown soft. Very soft. We spent two days, hiking up and down the hills of Valparaiso getting drenched by a fog\rain that made Eugene, Oregon in winter look like Phoenix. So, while the UENESCO World Heritage parts of the city are wonderful, we may, just may, have prayed to find an indoor mall. We also found ourselves relying a bit much on the turn-of-the-century ´ascensors´, rickety wooden box-style funiculars that scale some of the steepest hills for a modest fee, thus adding another element of danger to our visit.

The highlight of our stay was our visit to the poet Pablo Neruda´s (less famous) house. The house is constructed with a panoramic view of the city and is itself an amalgam of the city. Portholes from ships line the stairwell, salvaged stained glass, custom designed fireplaces, model ships, and a study that groans like a ship at sea when the wind blows all come together with a strange unity. There is even a small ¨heliport¨on top of the home for future travels to the stars. Poets think of everything.


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