Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Loving the Chile burghers

After a bumpy start to my extended stay in Chile this time last week, I'm back in my normal positive state of mind. This has come about because special people keep cropping up and taking me under their wings. At Hotel Da Vinci in Valparaiso, Enrico, Natalie, Luis and others have become my Valpo family. I'm also now into a routine, which always gives me pleasure in a new place.

I'll be moving to Santiago later this week, which plan was set in place just a few days after I was robbed. I was feeling vulnerable and limited in what I could do here, but that has now changed. Never mind: I'll be leaving here feeling positive about the place, and hopefully I'll have a chance to meet again with the friends I've made here.

I'll be renting a small apartment in an area of Santiago that is opposite a park where I can run and near to art galleries, cafes and restaurants, and the metro. It seems I was meant to enquire about this apartment! The owner and her family have literally adopted me. P lives in Washington, and the apartment is managed on her behalf by her mum, Maria and Dad, Lalo. They took me out to lunch here on Sunday, and are such lovely people. Lalo lives in Valpo; Maria is in Santiago but was visiting Valpo with their grandson. Yesterday and today, Lalo rode beside me on his bike while I ran along the coast road for some hill training. These were my first runs in two weeks, and without his generosity I may not have run here at all. Maria is a hoot, and just two years older than I am. P will be visiting Santiago next month. She is a runner also, so we are planning to run together.

While I was waiting for Lalo this morning I got chatting with a young New Zealand backpacker who was waiting for a bus to the main station. Rachael came to Chile for a friend's wedding, and has taken the opportunity to travel for a month in Peru, Argentina and Chile. There's nothing unusual about that, except for the fact that she is travelling with her two-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Lily, on her hip!

There are opportunistic, dishonest people everywhere; but everyone I've met since that first afternoon in Valpo has been friendly, kind, thoughtful and generous - or just plain awesome.

If I still had a camera I would be photographing the urban art, for which Valparaiso is famous. It's a city made for exploring on foot.

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