January 16, 2012: My Kingdom for a Mochila

Ah! Sweet relaxation. The nighttime musicians have finally departed. They were perfectly friendly fellas during the daytime, but I must admit I shan’t miss their 5am festivities.

Today and the next day, I will be devoting a large chunk of time to jobwork, as it’s a very busy week of the year for us. This is what I occupied myself with into early afternoon. Then, I remembered I hadn’t eaten lunch, so I grabbed a sandwich before heading off into the city for a while.

Street-flyer, which translates as "Valparaíso is a 'Heritage Site of Humanity', NOT a heritage site of dirt," followed by a plea to keep the streets tidy.

My hope for the day was to cross off another objective from my Chile list: “buy backpack.” I arrived here with one medium-sized suitcase and a large backpack. Originally, I’d thought I might buy an extra suitcase to bring home any loot/gifts I’d acquired. Now, I think I will just baggage-check the backpack, as I did for Patagonia. That means I need something for carry-on that’s large enough to hold my laptop, since I don’t trust it to the wilds of the luggage compartment.

I strolled through town, hoping to stumble across La Tienda de Mochilas Baratas, but with no clear destination in mind. The mercado had disappeared, to my great surprise; it had been set up in the plaza for longer than I’d been here! Now where will I get my rum-flavored chocolates? I poked through a number of stores, including a Macy’s-caliber department store called Ripley. I did find some mochilas (backpacks), but all much fancier than what I required. Alas.

As I was walking back from Plaza Victoria, I got sidetracked by an open doorway in the side of the Natural History Museum. I peeped my head in, to see if the museum (closed indefinitely for repairs since the 2010 earthquake) was miraculously open. It was not, but there was a small art exhibit called “Valparaíso y el mar” (Valparaíso and the Sea), which had just opened yesterday — good timing! I decided to check it out. It was located in a strange, cellar-like space, built of brick and slabs of stone, formed into numerous archways and wings. A musty smell pervaded the air.

Have you seen a Cask of Amontillado anywhere?

The exhibit was a diverse series of paintings, mostly of Valpo and/or the sea (as you may have inferred from the exhibit’s name). There were some paintings of stormy water with incredibly realistic waves. There were also a few interesting depictions of Valpo a few hundred years ago, when it was just a few scattered buildings starting to creep up the hills, instead of the solid mass of today.

A view of an old dirt road leading to Valpo, with the sea visible beyond it.

Once I had looked through the entirety of the red-brick cellar’s ocean artwork, I returned home for dinner. I was still backpack-less, but I enjoyed my town.

5 thoughts on “January 16, 2012: My Kingdom for a Mochila

  1. La Tienda de Mochilas Baratas: Pity they don’t have a Costco and a Walmart and a Target. Do they have a McDonald’s? There’s one in Antigua now. But the city has required them to keep their arches muy pequeños, y todas las señales afuera tienen que ser en español.

    Dad would have liked those paintings.

    1. Well, actually, we do have Walmarts. I went to an Official Walmart in Argentina, but the supermercado that I always go to in Valpo, the Lider, is also a child of Walmart, despite its insidious name. There are no McDonaldses in Valpo but there are three in Viña del Mar next door. Actually, Viña has an abundance of chains, and Valpo has some (like Blockbuster).

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