Valparaiso, Chile

cloudy 70

I can’t believe it’s cloudy again!

Valparaiso is the port city of Santiago, the capital of Chile, which is about two hours distant. Between the high cliffs and the sea, there’s not much room for Valparaiso, but the buildings and homes of 150,000 people pack themselves in and hang on. There are 16 funiculars (ascensors) scaling the steep hills to various hillside communities. Some are so close to the vertical that they’re more like elevators than funicular railways. Conversely, Santiagons travel underground in a Metro that is one of the city’s showcases. The transit authority actually publishes, and freely distributes, its own newspaper so riders won’t be bored.

This is a huge port and we are not allowed to walk to the exit. A bus takes us the three miles to the security area. That would have been a long walk!

Regent Seven Seas offered a complimentary shuttle to Vina del Mar, an upscale district, with a one lane seven block shopping strip. The bus left every half hour on the hour and half hour. If that was too hard to fathom, a shuttle schedule was available at the reception desk. Now follow me on this; the schedule says the return bus leaves from Plaza de Armas in Vina del Mar. There is no Plaza de Armas in Vina del Mar; Plaza de Armas is in Santiago. I pity the people who get lost, and try to find it on their Vina del Mar map. Oh, and when the shuttle driver dropped us off, he said we were at the spot where we would actually be picked up. Oops, not quite. Try the rear of the casino, a hundred yards down the road.

The first half of the trip to Vina del Mar, we passed rows of bars and restaurants, the second half, large condos and plenty of palm trees. Traffic was typical of a city, but the traffic lights took a long time to change, and that gave some entrepreneurs a chance to make some pesos. One stop boasted very determined windshield washers. One had a teenage girl doing tricks with a soccer ball right in front of the lead cars. A third was a showcase for two young women doing a routine, each twirling two pennants, again right in front of the idling cars.img_2050.JPG

Their timing was perfect; at just the right moment they stooped the twirling and went from car window to car window. At one large intersection there was a blind man moving a long white staff from side to side, walking up and down by the sides of cars. No one took notice.

It was a 20 minute walk to Avenida Valparaiso, the seven block stretch of stores. I never would have found it without the help of a clerk in an airline ticket office. My Spanish and her English got the job done. Since I was well aware of having been lost in Punta Arenas, I dropped many mental breadcrumbs along the way.

There is a bug circulating the ship and hacking coughs are prevalent. I am coming close to taking a shower under the hand sanitizers.

We sail at 9 tonight. At 9:45 there’s a production show called, “Beyond Imagination”, and when that lets out, it’s jazz with Bob Wilbur. For that, I’ll stay up.

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