Valparaiso has 42 hills.
I have no idea who saw this naked area way back when and thought, “Hey, let’s build millions of buildings on these cliff-like hills and generally inhabit the ravines and valleys formed by these typically uninhabitable areas.” Seriously, kudos. Because most houses here are on stilts and everyone is apparently okay with that.
Anyway, the hills follow the natural ravines of the topography, so at least discerning where one cerro ends and another begins follows some sort of logic.
Although I’ve lived in Valparaiso for almost a year, I haven’t been to all of the cerros. I probably won’t go to all of them, to be honest. People live here all their lives and don’t get to all of them. But this past Sunday, Jorge and I took a trip to a new destination: Cerro Cordillera and Cerro Toro.
Here’s a map that doesn’t even show any of the places we went on Sunday! Instead, see where I live, where my yoga studio is, and an unhelpful vague arrow gesturing in the vicinity of Cerro Cordillera!
Cerro Cordillera and Cerro Toro are further south in Valparaiso. There are touristic parts of Cordillera including the Naval Museum and some ascensores over there, but both cerros have a reputation for being kind of dangerous in certain areas for tourists.
However, my friend Peter has been living here for 3 years and knows all the ins and outs of the place. He and his partner Seba offered to host a brunch at their house in Cordillera, with a delightful post-brunch sightseeing walk afterward (with helpful knowledge about what parts to avoid). How could we say no? Armed with friends as tour guides and one (or two…) mimosas in the early afternoon, I knew this was the perfect chance to get to know Cordillera and not get robbed.
Okay, this might just look like a bunch of crap, but look closer: It’s an abandoned/exploded?/decrepit house, but upstairs is a girl’s room. Almost perfectly preserved. Very eerie.
View as we ascend Cerro Cordillera.
Our Sunday Funday/Disfrumingo group! Jorge, Peter the host, Paul the friend and neighbor, and Rayelle, the visiting artist and Spanish student!
Something I love about Valparaiso is the constant stream of interesting characters that come through. It’s a city that attracts artists of all types, and has for generations. I don’t know if it’s the views from above, the spell the ocean casts, or that carnivorous fog I wrote about once that lures people in, but there’s something here that artists can’t resist. Add to that mix a constantly revolving door of exchange students, a sprinkle of ex-pats from all over the world (especially USA and Spain…), and you have a recipe for Valparaiso, one of the most consistently interesting cities in the world.
Boredom is not an option, and there’s never a lack of people to get to know. Jorge and I are active in the Couchsurfing community in Valparaiso, which brings even more interesting people to our door. To date, we’ve hosted poets, artists, chefs, and more, all of whom have appraised the views, the hills, the sunsets, the grit and sighed, “Ahhh, Valparaiso.”
On this particular Sunday Funday/Disfrumingo (our brunch attempt to combine the words Disfrutar/Enjoy and Domingo/Sunday), I met Rayelle, a young artist from Nebraska who came to conquer Spanish, and no doubt absorb the artistic essence that courses the streets of this city like rainwater down a hill. We got to look at her sketchbook — a delightfully intimate peek into another person’s brain, like reading their journal or catching someone behaving when they think they’re alone — and she gifted Jorge and I a drawing of our choice.
The symbol for the Sun, with hands. There’s something creepy and all-knowing in that dot in the middle.
Typical Valpo: Cluster of cables in every shot.
Overlooking Valpo from a different angle…this time, from Cerro Cordillera!
Jorge tries to catch a trolley before it drives off.
A view of the Valpo port, where an enormous cruise ship is docked. At first glance, it looks like a huge building. Because it essentially is one. Only, it floats.
Quite a successful DisfruminoSundayFundayNoFomingo. As I seem to be a crappy sightseer once I live in a place (my recent trip to Puerto Varas was another example of this; during our 3 days there, I did more sightseeing than I had in five months living there), this bright and beautiful day got my ass to a couple new areas and key touristic sights that might have otherwise gone un-visited.