Saturday, February 7, 2009

7 Feb – Valparaiso Chile
We have been in Valparaiso for the past couple of days. Friday was devoted to dealing with the Customs people to get the bikes released. Then it was off to the wharf to unpack them. Two bikes would not start (flat batteries) and later two dumped their fuel all over the gas station forecourt (dry seals in the petrol pumps) and one had no fuel at all. Actually it wasn't bad. We had a shipping company rep walk us through things and she was a blast – a chubby good-time Gal who took us to the pub for lunch and was keen to organise a BBQ for the evening. Some people have great jobs.
Today (Saturday) a couple of us did the tourist thing with a bus ride around the points of interest including Vina del Mar which is clearly the up market suburb of this town. We are staying in a nice backpacker hostel in a very poor part of town. This is a very old city and buildings in our area are around 100 years old and a little run down. There are street hawkers everywhere selling everything from half used cans of of stuff to new clothing. They set themselves up on the footpath by laying out mats and wait for passers buy to be attracted. Further down the road it's more organised and that was impressive to say the least. Mostly fruit and vege, fish (which adds a most distinctive aroma to the mix) and flowers. It's wall to wall people and noise. We, more me really, had lunch there, a cheese sandwich and a bag of peaches plus we lugged a huge and heavy water melon back up the hill to home.
Sight of the day – a dog. There are hundreds of stray dogs here and they are tolerated by the local human population. This dog was sitting in front of the butcher shop sign all the world as if it was reading the price list prior to selecting its cut.
The last two of our group arrived from Santiago this afternoon and are now enjoying their first cerveza (beer) before we head off to a resteraunt for a bonding session. Actually the cerveza will probably be enough. There is a small hole in the wall bottle store over the road where we are buying the stuff from. I don't think they have ever sold so much beer and wine in one go. Beer is about $2.00 a can and the wine about $3.50 a bottle. For $5.00 you can get an excellent Cab Sav which right now the noisy buggers around me are giving a nudge to.
Tomorrow we move on.

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