We are starting our second week in Valparaíso. We had planned to stay only a week and move to Viña del Mar this week. But because Viña del Mar and Valparaíso are really Chile's version of the Twin Cities - as it takes only about 15-20 minutes by bus or metro to travel between the two and wanting to cause the least amount of disruption to Dan's work - we decided to stay put in our old hostel and move instead on Friday to Viña - just for the weekend- before traveling to La Serena in the north.
Valparaíso and Viña del Mar are both lovely cities in their own right, but very different. If one had to characterize them, one might say... that Valparaíso is a working port, more artsy, bohemian, old, romantic, unplanned, mostly vertical and dirty ...and that Viña del Mar is a bit more modern, upscale, clean, orderly, green and perhaps typical of a coastal city. Ironically, the foreign tourists flock to Valparaíso and its old colonial architecture and quirky, twisting streets and the Chilean (and Argentinian) tourists flock to Viña, its green plazas and its beaches.
Last week the kids and I spent a good deal of time getting to know the cities and beaches. As Gracie described, we tried all the different transportation options and we had some great outings with new Chilean (Alonso, Maria Eugenia and Adrea as well as Cecilia, David and children) and US friends, Artie and Margy. We also visited some potential schools for the kids.
This week, the kids and I are on a bit more of a schedule; wake up 8:30am, breakfast, exercise a bit (soccer or yoga), Spanish lessons with Mom, then free time, lunch at 1:30pm, then run some errands or do an outing, and come back for a bit of free time (checking e-mails or reading Kindles) before a late dinner with Dan at 7 or 7:30pm and in bed by 10pm.
Even though we have such a flexible schedule, there still doesn't seem enough time in the day to negotiate daily living, research future living, stay in touch with new connections here in Chile and stay in touch with friends and family at home. Once we're settled we won't have to figure out food, laundry, housing, transportation, and all the rest with each new move. But we have another month of moving around and getting to know Chile and its people.
So, for now we're just embracing the fact that everyday is about discovering the new! And then by the end of February, we will happily move into a routine and community. Honestly, I think we could be happy settling in either Viña or Valparaíso for the year.
Here are some photos of some neat and unusual sights for us:
- The Pacific Ocean!
- Tsunami evacuation route sign
- A chilean naval submarine and its crew coming to port
- A wall of flowers (a vertical garden)
- Palm trees everywhere
- Mosaics everywhere!
- Dan's watermelon birthday "cake" (thanks Margy)
- Our new soccer "field" in front of our hostel
- A 20 foot diameter functioning clock made out of flowers
- Our daily vertical climbs