25 October 2011
In striking contrast to the quiet and dusty streets of Quintero rises the colorful and eccentric city of Valparaiso. Just an hours bus ride South, Valpo ripples with energy and the feeling that the city itself is pulsing with life. The various barrios run together up steep hillsides that crash into the ocean. There were warnings not to go too high up, where the gangs congregate and the energy takes on a different current, though to an outsider it is almost impossible to know where these boundaries lay. Laboring up the steep streets is like walking in an urban museum, replete with murals and graffiti, oddities like ships helms mounted up the side of a house or a garden filled with figurines of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. And everywhere there is the panoramic view of the sea, this is an active port city with boat traffic as busy as are its streets. Barrio Bellavista is home to one of Pablo Nerudas’ houses, as eclectic as the city itself. From the outside the house resembles a ship and there are windows made out of portholes overlooking the city. Lacking one style, it rather embodies many and exemplifies Nerudas creativity. Some walls are painted pink, and others tiled in a beautiful mosaic. Gorgeous hardwood floors hold among other oddities a white carousel horse in the middle of the living room. Pictures are only allowed out the windows or from outside the house, so if you happen to find yourself in Valparaiso you will have to check it out to see what I mean. I am not a huge follower of his poetry, but somehow walking through that house it felt as if his spirit was there. I could go on with many words about Valparaiso, but I really feel it is a city best expressed if not in real life, then in pictures. Click on the photo below to see what I mean.