June 11, 2006

Snapshot of Valparaiso

Valparaiso has over 40 hills, thick with homes running from the stately to shanty, squatting over what was once South America's biggest port. There's still enough sass to let you know neckties don't rule here. Spindly streets climb alleys like laundry chutes. High above in second and third floor balconies panties and trousers in yesterday's fashions drip from their racks over the window hangings. I can't imagine their wearers donning these threads dried in tailpipe exhaust. Valparaiso is a curious visual picnic muddied by its own poverty. In a well-trafficked cobbled square a mutt stops to shit in the middle of the whizzing cars, unscathed. It sums it up. Necessity rules all here.

highlights: getting lip from 30-year waitresses, murals painting the passageways, the nightscape of hills twinkling with lights, sealions sleeping nose up in the harbor (you pass them when kayaking).

lowlights: hopscotching dog crap, barethreaded homes, the fog which curdles around you when you suspect you're not alone in the maze.

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