Today we visited Valparaiso, “paradise valley”, which is located basically on top of Viña. Whoever made the blueprint for this city was for sure on drugs. The houses are stacked on the hills pretty perilously I’d say (not sure if that’s a word but just imagine looking at a house and being like “omg peril danger bad”). Did someone forget they have earthquakes here? Stilts might not be the best idea. And on top of that, they all look so different- different colors, sizes, styles. It was like a four year old dumped a bunch of legos on a mountain and called it a city. Covered in murals and graffiti. Nothing we saw looked like it belonged where it was, everything contrasted and clashed with everything around it, and it was maybe the most beautiful city I’ve ever seen.
There have been so many amazing views here, but gazing out of the 3rd floor of Pablo Neruda’s home at the city and the sea exceeded any and all previous views, times ten. I’m not sure how he was such a famous poet because I was at a complete loss for words. The contrast between the busy, bustling streets of Valpo and the calm, sparkling ocean was just too much. There was no fade away, it was just ciudad-y-mar. Hand in hand, completely unique from each other but harmonious nonetheless. Their relationship made me feel so quiet. Not in a bad way but a good one. Like peaceful.
One thing our tour guide said to us that caught my attention was a comment he made as we were walking on perspective. He said the “portellos,” or citizens of Valpo, would take a walk down a hill, using alleys or streets they’d never used, to see what they could discover. Every time we turned a corner we found something new- a mural of the native groups of Chile, a corner candy shop, a huge bright blue house. You might think you have the whole city figured out, that you know exactly where you’re at, what’s on this street, what’s coming next. But then you take two steps to left. And everything is suddenly different.
I’ve spent my whole life looking out at the world from Des Moines, Iowa. I thought I knew everything (or was at least pretty close to figuring it out). But in just the few short weeks that I’ve been here, I’ve learned so much about myself, and about life, that I didn’t even know I didn’t know. This is why I want to travel. I want to see things differently and learn new things and change my mind and find new views and meet new people and change my outlook and discover new truths. You can’t do those things if you always stay in the same place. Two steps to the left, (or 5,000 miles to the south) changes your whole perspective.