bus to wonderland

IMG_4128Last week we hopped a bus from the city center to Valparaiso, a coastal town just an hour and a half drive from Santiago. You may recognize it from recent news when the worst wildfires in the region’s history swept through the hills only a week ago. We considered canceling but decided that since the fires were controlled, the city could use our tourist dollars now more than ever.  I am so pleased that we stayed the course.

We have elected to go car free for now and are determined to make the most of public transportation options. We paid $10 for two round trip bus tickets, as Bushbabies ride for free. We arrived Wednesday afternoon and checked into the Fauna Hotel in the Cerro Alegre neighborhood. The top floor housed their restaurant which boasted one of the most impressive collections of succulents that I’ve ever had the pleasure to dine with. And then there was the view beyond.IMG_4081

The hotel was situated on a footpath which connected the street to a funicular, which means we were steps away from two very different neighborhoods. The funicular station had recently been renovated and had a HUGE (and pretty steep!) slide that took you from the arrival platform to the plaza below. My first impression of this jaw-dropping place was that of a magical but dangerous playground. Predictably Snakes and the Bushbaby nearly wore out the seats of their pants.IMG_4014IMG_3995IMG_4384We hired a city guide, Perro Tours, to take us off the beaten path and fill us in on the history and reason behind all of this astounding public art. (I’m not sure I ever got an entirely comprehensive answer.) He told us that much of it is the result of a recent festival of Chilean and Latin American street artists who came to the city to transform neighborhoods into open air galleries. Every corner you turn, every alleyway you peek into, every implausible staircase leads to yet another public square covered in bright mosaics or splashes of mouthwatering colors. I adore (and suspect will crave) this accessibility! Imagine if every time you left home your path was rainbow colored and lined with murals. Pure magic, right? Or would it be like everything remarkable thing that we eventually take for granted?  In time would you fail to notice?

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We returned to Santiago Friday afternoon, after a brief two night stay. There is so much more to explore. My mind still drifts through that seaside wonderland and with any luck will continue to do so until we have the good fortune to return.




16 thoughts on “bus to wonderland

  1. Holy schmoley, this is what I dreamed of for your foreign service life!!! Great placings of the bushbaby! She looks like a living part of the murals.

    1. Right!?! This is exactly what I (foolishly) imagined our lives would be like when I agreed to this. I suppose that despite the hardships, it really is pretty spectacular. Miss you, love you!

    1. Thanks Kaho. I have really been enjoying your blog as well. You make Mumbai seem so welcoming and crazy stylish! Not at all what I imagined.

  2. The murals are intriguing – what an enchanting place to wander through! Thanks for sharing great photos of your day trip. I hope that the area is starting its recovery from the fires and that many more get to see such a great display of art and life.

    1. It was enchanting. That’s the perfect word. And that’s exactly what I love about it. Life happening all around, Art everywhere. Everything mixed up together instead of locked up behind walls. It was inspiring.

  3. I’ve been reading your blog for a while and am happy to see you are back! I had to comment because my husband and I just returned from Chile for our honeymoon and were in Valparaiso the week after you guys! It iss cool to see photos of corners (and dogs) that we had just seen. Wonderful, crazy, jumbled town. Glad you are back in this space posting. On another note, I’m sorry to hear about your doggies. I have to admit, I wonder if the timing of your dear friends departing and your family’s tour placement might, in a strange and aggressively optimistic way, be the universe providing a unique opportunity to open your hearts and home to one of the many sweet street dogs there? Once your hearts have healed, of course. I love the idea that the universe has conspired to turn a sad event into an opportunity to improve the life of another being…. Just my personal thoughts trying to put a positive spin on things…. Please keep posting!

    1. Congratulations on your marriage! Such an incredibly special and transitional time in life. And fun honeymoon!
      Thank you so much for your kind words of insight and wisdom regarding the loss of our friends. It is tough. Our house is so empty. I feel the same about adopting! I have a friend who fosters strays and volunteers at a shelter on the outskirts of the city. I suspect it will become progressively more difficult to remain dog less. But we are opening our doors to vacationing friend’s and colleague’s dogs. For now that’s a pretty nice compromise. We can help out others looking for sitters and get our canine fix all at once.
      Thanks for reading and commenting!

  4. What an amazing place! I’m so glad you decided to go (and to see that, contrary to news reports, the whole city had not burned to the ground). Beautiful pictures, as always!

    1. We COULD stay there, not crazy expensive, but I think Kyle wants to slum it in the hostels. I’m totally game! We can always go there for a cocktail to plot out our evening’s adventure?! xo looking forward to your visit, lil bro.

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