December 17, 2011: Home-ish for the Holidays

At last, it was time to head home to Valparaíso. Originally, we had planned to take the 9am bus, but we changed our plan to the 10am bus to allow a more relaxed morning. We bid farewell to M.’s hostel owners, had a chatty breakfast with B. and her mum, and pulled together our things. We ended up leaving for the station around 10:30, now aiming for the 11am bus. (I regret nothing.)

B. was kind enough to drive us to the bus station. As we started to drive away from her house, their big sweet dog (whom I spoke of earlier) decided that he disagreed with our plan of leaving without him. He ran after us and plaintively stuck his paws up against the driver’s side window. B. opened the door and let him climb in, and we drove him around the block before dropping him back off with the mum. Having deposited the dog, we headed on our way once again.

At the terminal, we bade farewell to B. (whom I hope to see again in Valpo) and then settled into the bus. I had a window seat, and spent the whole ride listening to music on my iPod and occasionally taking advantage of the free bus wireless Internet (we live in the future, eh what?).

As we left Los Andes, I had a better view of how completely surrounded it is by mountains. At the lower altitudes, I saw more green fields with horses hanging out in pastures, between an endless stream of small, fetching towns. These soon gave way to scrubby chaparral hills. When we arrived at the terminal, I parted ways with M. and R., and nabbed a micro back home. Then, a delightful shower to wash the last of the sunscreen and flea bites away.

A month ago, I had discovered via Facebook that one of my U.S. friends (T.) was going to overlap with my time in Chile. They arrived in the country a few days ago, and this evening, she told me that she and her friend S. were heading to Valpo! By pure coincidence, they chose a hostel only about a seven-minute walk from my house, so I walked down the hill to meet them, and we went to seek a cup of coffee. On the way there, we stumbled upon a random street performance: a man and two women in grey bodysuits who danced and twirled and did impressive acrobatics with large blue plastic buckets. Just another day in Valpo.

Over coffee, we caught up on what we’d been doing with our lives. Then, we headed out into the warm evening. T. and S. both seemed to love the shape and feel of Valpo, which made me quite happy. We stopped at a restaurant for pisco sours (a national duty). Then, we wandered a little further, buying a bottle of wine to split from a botillería. We sipped it in the plaza, and then headed back to their hostel to hang out in the common area.

Their hostel had a guitar available for the guests’ use. S. picked it up and began playing, and sang along with her strumming. As it turns out, she has an incredibly beautiful voice. We hung out there for a while: she playing music, and T. and I listening tranquilly, and sometimes chatting with other hostel-guests who wandered in.

Night view.

Later on, we headed back into the balmy night, and ended up at Máscara for music and dancing. I had such a fun time that I didn’t even notice that we had successfully achieved Chilean nightlife hours: we were there until the club closed! While I savor my time here with my Chilean and foreign friends, it was also great to spend some time with U.S. friends.