It feels so good to be home in Valparaíso, and to wake up in my own bed-of-three-months. The only flaw of my first night home was that the other guests had decided it was a wise idea to play guitar and sing soulfully in the living room (right outside my door) from 5am to 6am, but at least I didn’t need to wake up early for any reason.
In the early afternoon, C. came to town. She’s one of the Americans I had met at EcoCamp and with whom I’d shared the van back to Punta Arenas. She had a few days scheduled in Central Chile, and I had recommended Valpo highly, so she was coming to visit for two nights, and would be staying at V.’s for added convenience. We set off into the city for some touristing. We started with lunch at the terrace restaurant on the hill above my Spanish school: frothy strawberry juice, asparagus soup, and some kind of tender carne. I’d wanted to eat lunch there one last time before leaving, so I got to cross that off my list.
Once we’d finished eating, we wandered off into lovely Cerro Concepción, to examine the handsome buildings and artistic graffiti. (As I mentioned before, this is one of my two favorite hills, out of the city’s estimated 45 hills.) Even though I’d wandered through this area abundantly before, I continually noticed new details.
C. had been interested in seeing La Sebastiana, so we grabbed a colectivo from el centro to go visit it. Since it was my second visit, I decided to try getting an audioguide in Spanish instead of English. I listened to it diligently for half the house, and then wandered the rest of the house in relative silence, having found that I was much better at noticing interesting small details when I wasn’t focused on the audioguide. I think C. enjoyed the museo too. There was a small photo gallery room outside the main house; it had been closed during my first visit, but this time, it was lit up and open. This contained a collection of photographs from his later life, which was v. interesting to look through: photos of him near the sea, with his wife Matilde, at his writing-desk in Isla Negra, etc. It seemed more intimate than any of the photo-displays I had seen of him before.
We swung by the gift shop on our way out, and C. found a few nice gifts for people back home. I was happy to discover that they were selling pins with varied quotes from Neruda’s poems (they hadn’t had these the last time I was there). I chose a few particularly evocative ones. One of the best aspects of Neruda’s writing is that, while his poems are brilliantly crafted, they use simpler, more comprehensible language, rather than getting too dense or stilted. I’ve heard this comment from multiple people in Chile, and it seems quite accurate, for I can read most of his work with minimal technical difficulties.
After a few hours’ downtime at V.’s, we decided to head back into the city. We stopped for coffee, and then headed to a place near our lodging, for drinks and a shared tray of salty cooked vegetables. We had picked a location that was just the right volume for comfortable conversation, and so we had a grand time having a girltalk-esque evening, with both of us getting to know each others’ lives a little better. We headed back to our lodging at a moderate hour, in order to be rested for the next-day plan: a Chilean cooking class!