xmlns:og='http://ogp.me/ns#' World Toddler: Grandparents, Graffiti, and Rabbit Soup



Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Grandparents, Graffiti, and Rabbit Soup

Valparaiso, Chile
Arriving in Valparaiso, Chile, we were excited to get lost among different streets, to taste new flavors, and, most importantly, to meet up with Nolan's parents, who would be joining us for this next segment of our trip.  After a six hour bus ride over the Andes Mountains, a two hour flight to Santiago, and a 1 hour drive north to Valparaiso, we were thrilled to find people we know and love--and who would babysit.
Grandma and Grandpa (Carol and Shawn) with Sydney at Vina del Mar

The colorful town of Valparaiso was built into 42 steep hills surrounding the city’s port.  High up in one of these hills, we found our 2 bedroom apartment, which we had rented off of Booking.com.  Our floor-to-ceiling panoramic city view came at a price: 104 stairs to get from our lodging to anywhere else.  Sydney’s grandparents were troopers, trudging right along as we climbed our way around this whimsical city. 

Climb to our Apartment

We began our stay in Valparaiso with a free walking tour, for which travelers are asked only to tip their guides at the end of the day.  Hiking up and down the city’s winding staircases, we learned why the houses of this city hang so precariously off the hillsides and why street art covers nearly every wall surface. 

Founded in the 16th century, our guide began, Valparaiso did not reach its economic height until the second half of the 19th century, when Gold Rushers used the city as a pit stop on their way from Europe to California.  During that time, the port area, the only flat section of the city, was developed by wealthy Europeans, who modelled their mansions and businesses after the European architecture with which they were familiar.  These 19th century buildings still decorate downtown Valparaiso, but, as result of subsequent economic decline and frequent earthquakes, are cracked, browning shells of their former selves. 
What's for lunch? Rabbit soup.

As wealthy Europeans moved into the port, local Chileans and others hoping to benefit from the burgeoning economy, were forced to build their own homes into the steep hills surrounding the port.  Our tour guide, a 25 year old native-Chilean, explained that people painted their houses with whatever paint was left over from their ship-building jobs.  While ship building is no longer a major industry here, the tradition of painting houses in vibrant colors has continued to the present day and is the reason for Valparaiso’s colorful skyline.

With Sydney still thumping along on Nolan’s back, we then learned about the dark cloud of Chile’s recent past, General Augusto Pinochet’s military dictatorship, which began 1970.  During this time artistic expression was banned.  When Pinochet left power in 1990, Valparaiso artists celebrated their newfound freedom on the streets.  Since this time, Valparaiso has been a haven for street artists. The city formally invites artists to paint certain public spaces, and private houses and restaurants commission outdoor murals.  With so much street art, the entire city is one enormous, ever-evolving art gallery. 

Street (and Garbage Truck) Art

We spent the rest of our time in Valparaiso admiring street art and exploring the city’s nooks and crannies, where we found fine fish restaurants, children's fairs, and quirky clothing shops.  
Fair in Plaza Sotomayor

We wound our way through Mercado El Cardonal, the city's longest continuously running food market, where bins of Kibbles & Bits sit directly beside bags of cooking herbs, reaffirming the value of a rudimentary knowledge of the local language.

With four extra hands to help out, Nolan and I were able to enjoy time alone together for the first time in almost a month. Eating dinner alone with Nolan was a real luxury after having traveled solo for so many weeks. 

Our final night together, we raised our glasses of pisco sours

(Chile’s national drink…see recipe below), and thanked Sydney’s grandparents for coming all the way to South America from Denver, Colorado to join us on our world adventure.  The next morning, grandma and grandpa dropped Nolan, Sydney, and me off at the airport, where we checked-in for the next segment of our world adventure: a 14 hour flight to Australia. 

Pisco Sour
Serves 4 people

Ice cubes
3 parts Pisco
1 part lemon juice
1  egg white
1 part sugar syrup

1. Fill a cocktail shaker with large ice cubes.  Then add the pisco, lemon juice, egg white, and sugar syrup. Shake vigorously for 60 seconds or until most of the ice has dissolved and the beverage is foamy.
2. Pour into champagne flutes and top with the frothy foam.

1 comment:

  1. What a beautiful place. I love the street art. Glad Carol and Shawn got to meet you there!! Thanks for sharing your trip with us!! Aunty Barb