Today is the 20th, which means I’ve now been here for two full months, and that in only a month more, I will be on my way back to California. Time has flown; I feel at home here.
My friend E. (from Spanish school) is back in Valparaíso for a few days, so today I met up with her for lunch. Along with our classmate C. and a new-to-me girl, we decided to go to a restaurant that they have become enchanted with, at the top of the hill that’s right next to the school.
To get there, we took another ascensor: Ascensor El Peral. The entrance to this ascensor was much more subtle: it basically looked like any old building-door on the street, except for the “Ascensor” sign. We entered through that door, and suddenly there was an enormous outdoor cable railway. It’s just like Narnia! I really like them, the rickety old dears. If I get ambitious, I might try to ride every ascensor once.
We sat on the balcony of the restaurant, with a stunning view of the whole harbor. Although we were a little sapped by the considerable heat, we chatted and joked throughout the meal. We ordered glasses of fresh frothy juice: pineapple, melon, or kiwi. For the meal, I had a fresh mixed salad, and then a buttery perfect fish filet, alongside sliced potatoes seasoned with rosemary. We finished with ice creams. All of it was phenomenal: one of the best meals I’ve had in Chile, and well-priced. I will definitely return there a few times.
After the meal, I wandered towards the ocean and jumped on a micro to the Viña del Mar mall. I hadn’t been there before, and worried whether I’d recognize it — but yes, its giant commercial bulk was unmistakable. Inside the mall, everything was busy and shiny, and nearly identical to every mall I’ve ever been in. Occasionally, a scent of apple cider or chocolate pastries wafted through the air; I wondered whether it was real, or if there were pleasant-scent dispensers. I walked through three of its levels, just looking around, and then climbed back down and departed.
I stopped at an artisan market and bought a tiny piece of red jasper, before asking the vendor-lady directions to another Viña street that I wanted to wander. She told me that it was a few minutes away by micro or a thirty minute walk, but I decided to walk it because I’d hardly seen anything of Viña (other than its beaches). Viña is cleaner and somewhat safer than Valparaíso, but it has much less character. It seems like the kind of generic city that one could encounter almost anywhere, but it’s nonetheless pleasant for a day out.
Once I arrived at the avenida I had been seeking, I wandered in and out of a few shops. I bought a bottle of water because it was full-force summer here, and picked up some pan for tonight’s dinner. Once I began to feel worn from the sun, I hopped on a micro back to Valparaíso. A humdrum day, but good getting to see a little bit more of our neighbor-city.