Friday, February 8, 2008

Chile: Santiago and Valparaiso

We did a bit of a whistle-stop tour of Santiago and Valparaiso, doing neither justice, but loving both. We hate to think we´ve become ¨If it´s Tuesday, it must be Rome¨ type travelers, but with our departure date looming, we´ve been on a bit of fast-track to Bolivia lately. We really wanted to alight in Santiago for two reasons: both to see the former stomping grounds of Eric`s sister, who studied abroad in nearby Vina del Mar, and to catch up with an old friend of Kathleen`s from Backroads.

We spent one day tromping around the city, marveling at the Museum of Pre-Columbian Art and being equally impressed by the amazing street art. Then we spent the next few days wrangling with the Bolivian Embassy for visas (actually, they were incredibly gracious and the process was painless, which doesn`t really make for great stories...alas), and being spoiled by Becca and Gonzalo (her ever-charming Chileno partner), who fed us choripan (barbecued sausage stuffed in dreamy bread....deelish!) and grilled meat delights and plied us with Chilean wine and their cute cat until we were afraid we might never leave. Lucky for them, we already had bus tickets to San Pedro de Atacama.

Hopping on a bus to Valparaiso, we were amazed at how much it resembled San Francisco, with pastel-colored homes tumbling down the cliffs toward the ocean and bright trolleys ferrying passengers to and fro. They have these amazing historic elevators to help you access the hilly terrain, and, like Santiago, more amazing street art. We felt both happy and homesick.

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