26.05.2013 - 01.06.2013 12 °C
Hello my loves,
Time for part two of my trip in Chile: Valparaíso.
I arrived in Valparaíso by night, to discover it was completely different from Santiago. By the way, both cities are about 1h15 and about €5 apart. The hostel where I was staying was also completely different than the last one, it was more like a house. Without central heating… When I climbed my bed I feared for my life. Not a hostel I would recommend (Casa Verde Limón).
I didn’t eat anything yet, so I went to look for some food. Being used to Argentinean eating times (between 22hs and 24hs) I was surprised to find everything closed. I walked a whole lot when I found a small pub with food. When I asked for the check, the owner told me it was impossible for me to return home alone safely. I was warned by almost everyone that I should take care in Valparaíso so I had already left all my stuff including my phone in the hostel, but apparently I had to pass a shady neighborhood to get back, so she sent her husband to accompany me all the way back. These people immediately stole my heart!
The next day I woke up and thought a lot of people were showering, but it was just raining worse than in Belgium. What a bummer. I waited the whole morning for it to stop, and then decided to go eat in the Via Via hotel & restaurant. For those who don’t know, Via Via is a chain of ho(s)tels and travel cafes owned by Joker, a big Belgian tour operator. So they had some delicious Belgian food which I had been missing for a long time. Stoofvlees met frietjes!!!
I challenged myself to cross the rain (after all I am Belgian) and see at least something, but everything was so cloudy, my umbrella broke, my feet were soaking wet and there was nothing to do in the streets, even the museums were closed because it was Monday. A bit sad I returned to the hostel. I chatted a bit with a Brazilian, French and Swiss guy and looked forward to the next day which probably would be better.
But it wasn’t, it just kept on raining. Unfortunately it was my last day in Valparaíso, so I had to suck it in and just go out.
Valparaíso consists of 45 hills, so you have to climb them or go by elevator. We walked around a lot and saw a Maritime Museum. Early in the afternoon I got some bad news: my bus wasn’t going to leave Valparaíso that night. It had been snowing a lot in the Andes, so they closed the border until they finished cleaning up the snow. First I raced to the bus station to find out if it was really true, and got confirmation I should move my ticket to the next day. I was pretty tired of being cold at my hostel though, so I had to decide where to go. I had a nice afternoon in the Via Via so I decided to go there for one night.
The next day I finally saw Valparaíso in beautiful sunlight. What a difference!!! Suddenly I saw all the beautiful colors, the sea, the birds, the paintings… I took the bus to La Sebastiana, the second house of Pablo Neruda. Ever since I started to manage the Spanish I have been crazy about Spanish poetry, so on my trips I bought a bunch of second hand books and I wanted to know as much as possible about these poets. This house was even more impressive than La Chascona, partly of course because of the ocean view. After that I went down to the port, via the open air museum, a few streets filled with graffiti paintings.
It was really a beautiful day, until I received the same bad news as the day before. Again I wasn’t leaving in the night, the border was still closed. In the meanwhile luckily I met a really nice girl in the hotel who invited me to have a drink. We had a really nice night, but I was so tired of waiting to go “home” and worried it would take a long time before I was going to be able to get back. We were checking internet and calling at every possible moment for some good news.
This time I had to cancel my ticket and ask my money back via internet, and book a new ticket in the bus station. In this way they would automatically transfer my ticket to the next day if the bus wasn’t leaving.
Valeria also promised to show me Viña del Mar, also situated next to the sea but this time with a beautiful beach and a lot of shopping malls. For the first time I touched the Pacific Ocean! Too bad it was too cold to swim, and pretty grey again.
When we called for news about the bus, I again received a negative answer. The last hope was that night at 19h, so I decided to call my mother and ask her to stay up (6hs hour difference) so we could decide together what to do. You should know, I had a complete travel plan: 6 days Chile, 3 days Mendoza to finish my school work, 12 days in Salta, Iguazú falls and Buenos Aires and a few last days in Mendoza to say my goodbyes. And spend time with my love I saw all those plans fade away, and couldn’t make new plans either because of the deadline for school.
At 19h we couldn’t reach the bus company so I decided to go to the bus terminal where I found the office empty as well. Another company also crossing the border told me that no, my bus was not leaving tonight either. Stuck in Chile, part 3. I decided I had had enough. Back at the hostel I managed to connect with Skype to talk to my mother and she saved me. We booked a flight! I couldn’t be happier. A double feeling though, because for this price you could easily fly Brussels - New York, and I was only flying 50 minutes! Thank God for my savior mom.
The next day very early I woke up with a big smile, packed my stuff and took a few busses to the airport. Just when I thought there was nothing that possibly could go wrong anymore, the trip got just a bit worse: my flight got cancelled. I heard from my friends in Mendoza that they were experiencing a lot of wind, the famous Zonda, but I didn’t have a clue it would affect air traffic. It would have been too dangerous though, so we all got transferred to Santiago. I have to admit I did enjoy sleeping that night in my beautiful Crowne Plaza **** hotel room! Everything was arranged, from late lunch until breakfast. The next day I FINALLY arrived home in beautiful, sunny Mendoza.
I hope this story can be an inspiration for backpackers. If you don’t need to travel Argentina – Chile in fall or winter, then choose summer. Don’t ever book your tickets too much before date if you don’t have to (I didn’t book Salta Iguazú and Buenos Aires yet, but I almost did!). Don’t ever leave with a limited budget, because you never know what can happen. And don’t leave your schoolwork until the last days!