21 September 2014

Chile - Day Five - Cerro San Lucia

After the long day in Valparaiso, lovely as it was, I swore off hills. FOR GOOD.

So the very next morning, Molly took me to the pretty park just a block away from our hotel. Cerro San Lucia. Understand that CERRO is the Spanish word for HILL.

My biggest problem at this point was shin splints, so going UP the hill (sore as my feet and muscles might be) wasn't really the issue. But I didn't think of that as we were going up, because, I mean... JUST LOOK...

It was sort of like some type of medieval castle built into the hill. And STAIRS EVERYWHERE. So much UP!

But this too - - - LOVE. <3

It was so odd being right smack in the middle of downtown Santiago, with the large buildings, traffic and noises, but at the same time somehow transported back through time into an oasis of beauty and mystery.

Finally, we reached the summit.

And lo and behold, another stray dog. He was quite the trooper to come ALL the way up here!

For my sweet husband back home...

Looking back up toward the summit, we stopped in an area with statues and fountains, and there was even a snack stand, where we bought some Chilean Cheetos. Somehow they were different from American Cheetos. The bag looked the same but the Cheetos were more yellow than orange and tasted - less salty, perhaps. Just different.

We sat on a bench to rest with our water and Cheetos. As we chatted, we heard a low, guttural meow. Yes, we're cat lovers, but this was weird. And a little scary. Looking up, we saw a cat heading our way, trotting right toward our bench, meowing in that strange way. It jumped right up on the bench and began demanding Cheetos.

So we gave it some. We didn't really like them anyway.

After the Cheetos, Molly poured some water into a small indentation on the bench, and our friendly cat had a drink. And yes, it WAS very friendly. Not just a beggar, but an entertainer, as well.

After a while, we said good-bye to our new feline friend and headed down the long DOWNHILL path to the park entrance.

That view!

And this is where our photos end. After the park, we got pizza and went to the big fish market across the river.

Our last day.

It was bittersweet as we packed up to leave. Molly won't be back home in Maine until Christmastime. But what a privilege it was to see this place and to spend it all with her.

Saying it was unforgettable is an understatement. It changed me. I'm reeling from the things I learned and saw, only a fraction of which is in these photos and pages.

I imagine it will take months to unpack the information and sights swirling around in my head. And the time will be well spent.

Good-bye Molly and Good-bye Chile. I will miss you both.

Copyright © 2014 - Paulla Estes

20 September 2014

Chile - Day Four - Valparaiso

About 70 miles northwest of Santiago is the coastal city and major sea port, Valparaiso.

The bus ride took us through foothills, farmland, and villages as we headed west to the shores of the Southern Pacific.

When we arrived, we stopped at the first public restroom we found. And yes, you're seeing it correctly. You have to pay before you go.

Also, the Chileans (and Peruvians, for that matter) have a thing about throwing toilet paper into the toilet. There are signs everywhere telling patrons NOT to flush the paper. Instead, each stall has a small waste basket for used paper. Hmmm. Yes.

The city of Valparaiso is, in a word, enchanting. Colorful buildings huddled all along a steep hillside jutting up from the harbor.

A cab dropped us off at the harbor, and then Molly led us into a non-descript alley that had stairs off to one side. She headed up those stairs and we followed.

Up we went. And up some more. Lots of UP.

Along the way, Molly made friends with yet another Chilean cat.

And we loved the idea these folks had about where to safely store their bicycles.

Up a few more flights of stairs and I thought I would die. But then we rounded a corner and were greeted with beautiful views of the colorful hills and harbor.

And yet another sweet stray dog.

I thought, wow, wasn't that a lovely hike?

Oh but no, it was FAR from over. The next thing I knew, we were heading up again. Up streets, up sidewalks, up staircases, up alleyways.

To ease the burden of always going up (uphill, both ways!) we were treated to street art on nearly every other building. Such magnificent colors!

Ah, which way to go..... UP of course!

You can see from the photos, it was a bright, sunny day. The sky was blue, the sun shone brightly, and each house was painted brightly, even flamboyantly. It was a feast for the eyes!

This was a hilarious shot, as a garbage truck arrived when we first started shooting photos... and never left.

UP some more!

Do you believe those colors?!

I told my girls that when I get back to Maine, I want to paint our garage door JUST like this one. Somehow, I don't think it would go over very well in our low-key, rather conservative Maine neighborhood. But why not, right?

One of the city's many parks, all of which overlook the harbor.

At one point when I couldn't hold back the complaints any longer, Molly cheerfully told me that our destination was at the top of THOSE steps. Thankfully, it was a joke. Not everyone laughed. I won't say who.

We finally headed downhill - hurray! Now I could REALLY enjoy the sights without huffy and puffing and trying not to die.

Oh wait.

Well, something about them being piano stairs just made them seem a little easier to take. :)

It was a spectacular day that for me, I will remember as my favorite day in Chile. The charming and colorful homes nestled on that steep hill, with winding roads and stairs everywhere... it was magical.

Copyright © 2014 - Paulla Estes