Another monstrous hangover on Saturday meant that Sunday was a total write-off. Again it starred crisps, with a supporting cast of fizzy water, orange juice and ham. Yeah, Friday night was ace. German Christine and me ventured into the northern suburb of Bella Vista, only intending to have a couple of bevvies before midnight then to chip back to the hostel. 6am rolls around, and due to memory loss I`m told there was lots of booty shaking and some ill-advised fence jumping resulting in a shin injury. Had to peel my sock the next day inside-out....nice.
Anyway, Bella Vista is a really buzzing area, a bit like Soho or Camden or Upper Street. Hundreds of people mill around, most of them drinking the litre bottles (2 pints) of Escudo or Heineken and eating an empanada, the Chilean equivalent of a cornish pasty. Met up with some Chileans in the karaoke-style bar, where a swarthy dude with intricate facial hair was crooning away to the backdrop of the rest of the bar as backing vocals. These guys love a good sing-song. A great night, not that I backed this view up the day after.
Cue Sunday. Was toying with the idea of going riding up in El Colorado, but Christine was off to Valparaiso so thought I`d tag along. Apparently the place was a beautiful and key Pacific ocean port, full of heritage and culture. In reality it was a bad version of a cross between Southend and Great Yarmouth, on a foggy cold raining rubbish day. In chronological order, these are the stand-out moments, the culturally rich happenings which make Valparaiso a must-see... walked into and then quickly out of a menacing slum, watched 2 copulating dogs try to free themselves from each other while 3 others tried to join in regardless of which end they were facing, glimpsed a hammered tramp defecate in a car park, got rained on, was asked for money by countless beggars and street urchins, went to the port to paddle in the Pacific ocean then realised that the water was so filthy that Ebola, E-Coli and Syphilis were on the cards. Weird, random, all very peculiar.
Having said that, the town is engaging, intriguing. There are 42 hills (cerros) surrounding the bay, all with their own character. We walked up to the best one, Cerro Concepcion, up streets angled at 45 degrees it seemed, past corrugated houses painted in bright colours with some awesome graffiti on their walls. Seriously, the artwork is pure talent - wil get the pics up asap. As I`ve said before, most cities are gridded - not Valparaiso. It is chaotic, anarchic almost - no order to it whatsoever. Ramshackle corrugated sheds sit side by side with knackered old colonial mansions, the roads are mostly cobbled with grass growing through the cracks, and there`s the ever-present scent of dogs and their business everywhere. A real experience. I don`t have long on here, and when I do get more time I`m going to write more about this place - an oddity.
Only 2 days left...