Posts tagged ‘Valparaíso’

September 30, 2011

La Sebastiana

This afternoon I took a little jaunt to Valparaíso to visit the second home of the famous Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda. I hopped on a micro and we climbed up, up into Cerro Bellavista. The driver was very amiable and said that he “might be able to manage advising me on the location of Neruda’s house and driving the bus at the same time…” He let me off literally two three houses away from La Sebastiana. That is the name that Neruda gave his home to pay homage to the original owner who died before the house was completely finished.

Neruda owned on the top two floors and the terrace on the roof, while his friends occupied the first two floors. When he was first searching for an a place to live he gave this criteria:

“I feel the tiredness of Santiago. I want to find in Valparaíso a little house to live and write quietly. It must have some conditions. It can’t be located too high or too low. It should be solitary but not in excess, with hopefully invisible neighbors. They should not be seen or heard. The house should be unique but not uncomfortable. With many wings, but strong. Neither too big, nor too small. Far from everything but close to transportation. Independent, but close to commerce. Besides that it has to be very cheap. Do you think I would find a house like that in Valparaíso?”

Pretty particular eh?

Funny thing though, on the top floor is a map of the Americas that fills the entire wall. I’m not sure when it was made and I’m kicking myself now for not looking, but Chile was amazingly accurate. North America on the other hand, almost completely wrong. I say almost because the general shape was correct, though majorly distorted; Cuba was the size of all of the southeastern states. And also the great lakes where in the correct position. Other than that, California was an island, Illinois was in the middle of the country, and Canada was touching Mexico. I wonder what would happen if we swapped out a 4th grade classroom map with one of those…

In my opinion this home wasn’t as special as Isla Negra, but it never was supposed to be. Neruda certainly put his mark on everything, but this house was a working house instead of an escape. That being said, there is nothing like the view of the port and all of the colorful houses of Valparaíso. Just seeing that vista every morning is inspiration enough.

August 6, 2011

Metro, Taxi, Micro, Feet

One week of class under my belt. There’s a lot of freedom to switch classes and such all the way up to mid-September, but I don’t think I’m gonna take advantage of that opportunity. Why? My professors are easy (enough) to understand. The subject matters keep my attention. (Yes, even the grammar class…) But most of all, I have FINALLY figured out my route to get to class. This may not seem like that big of a deal to some, but I am not very accustomed to public transportation. I can count on one hand the times I’ve used a bus to get around in the States. Adding fuel to the fire there are approximately 17 different locations of my university across Viña del Mar and Valparaíso alone. Of the classes I am taking, I have two classes in Viña and three in Valpo.

Incidentally, one time I asked for directions to the campus center. I received blank stares in response because nobody understands the concept of a ‘campus’ like we have in EEUU. There isn’t one place you go to every time you have class, instead you have to jump between towns and find different buildings that are in the middle of one of these hundreds of cerros. (These ‘cerros’ or hills I will explain at another time…)

So about getting to class, I have many options. Metro, taxi, micro, feet. The metro is really clean and it is never very crowded. It is a really pretty ride when we’re not in a tunnel because it runs right along the water’s edge. The only downside is that it is quite a ways walk to the metro station and it’s kinda expensive. Taxis I really don’t take unless I’m with my mom. These taxis that we take aren’t like normal taxis; instead they are shared by four people. (I know. It sounds like it’s straight out of  Taken…) Once the driver gets four people, he will drop each person off at their respective places. Haven’t figured out the signage for that one yet though plus it’s expensive. Maybe I’ll figure it out by next week.

Ah, micros. I’m growing fonder by the day. That’s the bus system here. Once I get my student card, a ride costs a mere 120 pesos, which is 26¢ in the US. Feet never fail, except when I’m running late or it’s over two miles. That’s my limit.

I enjoy walking to both of my classes in Viña because:

  • It’s free.
  • I get to see the city
  • I can walk off all of this white bread that I’m CONSTANTLY eating four times a day.

I take two different micros to my classes in Valpo. One drops me right off in front of the building and the other puts me, well, closer than I was before I guess. I have to scale a huge hill, following a road that winds between all of these artsy houses before arriving breathless at the door of my silk screening class. The view is gorgeous though and well worth the heart attack.

Getting back is a combo of lots of walking, more micro hopping, and an occasional metro jaunt. See what I mean? I am nowhere close to experta, but the thought of changing everything up now that I kinda have it down makes me want to commit myself to the funny farm.