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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

valpo part II

Welcome to Valparaiso part II.

After a chilly night (I was able to get the heater running, but the old single pane art deco windows did little to keep in much heat during the night) and a belly full of salmon and cream cheese sushi, we walked up the hills and through the top part of the city to the house and museum of Pablo Neruda. I knew little about the Chilean poet and politician, but after spending a few hours in his house with the aid of an audio tour over looking the city I was definitely impressed.

Pablo Neruda's House
Pablo Neruda's House
The garden outside the house, no photos were allowed inside the house
Neruda was a writer and active social rights figure during the 1950's. After joining the communist party, and spending much time in public speaking against Cold War politics, he began to cause quite a divide between himself and the conservative government, which eventually led to his exile, then reappearance to the public circle when more left leaning presidents were elected. He spent the 60's speaking out and writing (in green ink, his symbol of hope) against the ways of the Cold War world, calling for non violent change, and eventually made on to the prestigious target list of the of Congress for Cultural_Freedom. The CCF was a CIA anti-commie organization that attempted to discredit communist figures, who's job became difficult after Neruba won the Nobel Prize.

No matter the history, he was an amazing man that loved life, Chile and its people, and fighting for the rights of these people. Aside from politics, on a personal level I found a few of his fun life beliefs to be neat. Below are a few I really enjoyed:
  1. Always keep set the table in the dining room, dinner is a great thing and always be ready to have dinner.
  2. Always have dinner at a table, there is no better place to enjoy fine food and wine than sitting upright at a table with all accouterments available, plus, Neruda explains, dinner just tastes so much better with a certain presentation.
  3. A house is a toy box, it should be filled with fun things you enjoy, and those things should be discovered again and again to be enjoyed. 
Most of the houses around the Neruba house have poetry written on tiles attached to the walls
Later that night we had a dinner of Chupe. Chupe is a Chilean stew typically made with butter, broth, lemon, cheese, bread and seafood (ours was scallops). It tastes amazing, think French onion soup, but 100 times better. The wine I insisted on drinking all weekend was Carménère. The grape used to grow almost exclusively in the Bordeaux region of France. After a nasty fungus wiped most of the grape in the region, the world was left without carménère. Carménère is really picky about where it grows best to make amazing wine, and when in 1994 some carménère vines were inadvertently an unknowingly sent to Chile (climate in regions of Chile match almost exactly to those in France) mixed with merlot vines, the world was blessed with carménère again. Good stuff, I am not a wine expert in anyways, but it was good stuff.

The wrong end of a gnome war
The next day we hung out with some friends we met on the bus coming into Valparaiso. George and Larrisa were on an extended vacation traveling South America and volunteering their time working at an orphanage in Bolivia. We caught them on their way out of SA to head back to the Bay. It was great meeting them and exploring the Ascensores (old hill side elevators) and cemeteries.

Our buddies, George and Larrisa
The oldest ascensor in Vaparaiso
Another ascensor, with a slide

We ended our trip the next morning trying to get a bus back to Mendoza, only to find the the mountain pass was closed due to snow, and our snowboards were on the other side of the pass! It ended up being days before the pass opened, but before we knew this we bought tickets on a flight back to Mendoza to make our first Spanish lesson. So we bussed back to Santiago, found a room at the Bellavista B&B in the Bellavista neighborhood of Santiago. Which was way cool to see because we did not get to explore this area last time! Funny thing, when got off the bus, took the subway to Bellavista, walked to the house in the rain, rang the doorbell and no one answered, thinking the place was closed, we called from a coffee shop, no answer.

At this point we thought the placed closed down, and thought we would just get a hotel by the airport. Before we left for the airport we tried one more time, this time it was pouring rain, we were soaked and pounded on the door. Finally and eccentric 6 foot Aussie came to the door and exclaimed "Crawnky! You guys are soaked, get in here and warm up!" We were rather pleased by this, after a day of uncertainty it was nice to be warm, dry, and interesting place. The inn used to be artist live work space for struggling artists in Santiago, until the owner (also an artist) had enough of struggling artists and turned the place into an inn with neat art, smelled like oil paint though. We proceeded to drink tea in bed for the rest of the afternoon, then went for dinner later that consisted of burgers, fries, and Chilean wine. The next day we made to back over the Andes in 35 minutes (as opposed to the 9.5 hour bus ride), to the dry confines of Mendoza.
A night in Bellavista
Flying over the Andes

1 comment:

Jen Singh said...

Love Pablo Neruda! We got a book of love poems by him for a wedding present and have loved his work ever since! Love the house and so interesting...we need to connect with you guys-maybe a skype connection soon? Miss you all and heard you are coming back the end of Sept.-we need to catch up!!