The Kindness of Strangers
Trip Start Aug 31, 2012
17Trip End Apr 30, 2013
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We are very pleased to present to you these visions of Santiago, capital of Chile, and the nearby coastal city of Valparaiso ('val-para-yeeso').
The one thing we do want to say that can never be fully expressed in pictures or in words is the gratitude we have felt these last few days. This chapter is called The Kindness of Strangers because it is dedicated to those such people who have taken us in as strangers and seen us off as friends.
In Santiago, first off, we were offered the apartment of Sandra, whom we had met a few months previously whilst staying with our first ever Couchsurfing host in Quito, Ecuador: Jose (who actually turned up at Sandra’s place unannounced early one morning with bottles of duty-free booze to share – it was so brilliant to see you again my friend)
Santiago is not only beautiful to behold, but has an ambience equal to that of its plethora of great art, sculptures and spiritual sanctums. We wandered into one cathedral on a Tuesday late-morning to find a considerable number of citizens enjoying the sermon of a grandly-robed, sweetly-singing priest. Are Tuesday morning sermons really necessary? In Santiago they are.
On Sundays, museums and art galleries in Santiago are free, so we drowned ourselves in it.
In Valparaiso, we were actually spoilt for choice of couches on offer (well we had to choose between two), and so first spent a couple of nights with Gaspar, a student of neuro-science who passionately introduced us to some of Chile’s local folk heroes in music and poetry. Gaspar gave us so much information about where to go (and not to go) in this town, and from the moment we walked through his door he gave us so much else
Gaspar lives on the 25th floor, with a view of the sea and hills that breaks the heart, and a balcony full of home-grown herbs that added a delicious flavor to every meal we ate. On Friday night Gaspar took us to see one of his favourite bands, but warned us that "there might be some punks there." Intrigued, we met up with some of his friends and followed them through one of the more “dangerous” areas of town, sneakily supping beer away from the eyes of the Carabineros (police), and into a basement at one o clock in the morning for a couple of hours of hardcore thrash punk, while huge, decorated rockers wildly swung their heads and elbows amid the glorious smells of fresh sweat, beer and cigarette smoke. Just like the heady days of my youth. Ah, we breathed it in… for about two days after.
Our other host in Valparaiso was Cesar, an Ecuadorian software engineer who has lived in Chile for the past twelve years or so
We can never thank them enough. Of course, everyone who has given us a place to stay has done more than we have a right to deserve. We may never see them again. We may never have a home suitable to return the favour. We ask ourselves constantly, what have we done to deserve this? To all those people, from the bottom of our hearts, thank you. Valparaiso is a city that we may forever dream of retiring to. Enjoy the hundred and odd pictures when you have the time …