VALPARAISO, Chile- Santiago’s port, or so Valparaiso is stated to be. I walked here this morning from Vina del Mar. An interesting walk down Ave. Espana along the coast. Transporting myself under my own power was the preferable option to dealing with the absurdity of trying to find a bus that would take me not even 10 kilometers away. I asked at a handful of places if anybody knew where I could get a bus to Valparaiso, but everyone seemed clueless. In this situation, I figured that walking would be the option of least resistance.
Wherever I am in the world I know that if public transportation proves an onerous obstacle or too expensive I can always default to my natural position as a bipedal homo sapien and walk. During these travels through the southern cone of South America I have been using this default position often as I tramp between villages and cities.
It took me around an hour of walking down the coastal highway to get to Valparaiso from Vina del Mar. I watched storm clouds roll in from the sea — lightning striking out over the horizon. I watched this scene pensively, as an elevated highway is not the best place to take cover in a thunder storm. I ran to complete the last leg of the hike and took cover in an old suburb that had winding alleys and stone old houses that were all linked together.
The gray, damp stone bricks rose up in all directions, given me the feeling of being in a maze or some sort of medieval catacomb. An alleyway broke open upon a little shrine with minarets of the holy mother which was surrounded by an iron fence. I got that titillating feeling that I was really in another land. I stopped for a moment and looked at the shrine, thought about my walk down the coast, felt my path a little. I knew then that there is no better way to live. My morning had been simple — I’d just walked to the next city — but even the simple in travel becomes epic.
The man placed in an unfamiliar setting has all senses firing like firecrackers on Chinese new year. The constant hum of mental and physical stimulation that is the inherent providence of world travel is a feeling unanswered by any other way of life that I know of.
[traveldeals]Valparaiso is a port city on par with any in the world. The port is walled in by giant shipping containers, the architecture of past centuries rise over the street, over the sea. The streets are set up in a way that would confuse anyone. There is a lot here, I think I will stay.
I met a French couple on my way back to the Hotel Residential Brazil. They just backpacked down from Bolivia. They described the area in between there and Valparaiso as places, “that I would not want to be.”
But I think this is exactly where I want to be. A trip that started out following the southern arrow on the compass has now flipped sides: we are going north.
To the desert. I must admit that I have never experienced a desert before. The Atacama – the driest region of the entire planet.