Week 3: Spanish Lessons & Valparaiso

The week off to another  rocky start with me loosing a full bag of laundry. I amazingly managed to loose it on a bus (don’t ask). I am down to my last bra, pair of socks and a handful of clothes, not at all surprising. Things started to pick up with me getting a job in a local cafe. Payment is in coffee so it’s a sweet deal for everyone involved. The POA is to work here for the week while I’m learning Spanish. Oscar, the head chef was initially confused when I rocked up but by the end of the day he was delira with the extra set of hands and kept slipping olives into my pockets as he way of thanks.

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Myself and Oscar running the show at cafe Amorillo Valparaiso

Even Spanish classes have improved. Julie calls me sweet baby girl and kisses me all the time ( if only she knew). Classes are exhausting but so worthwhile I can at least string a few sentences together.

I’ve been in the hostel almost 3 weeks so it’s becoming very like home and getting more difficult to leave. One of my solid pals is Rodrigo. He’s a funny fish but the type of fish you like. He is Chilain with absolutely no English . His job is apparently selling avocados and jay cloths on the black market ( who knows?). Anyway he helps me with my Spanish, does the dishes and will occasionally throw me a steak and some yogurts. It must be quite a fruitful operation he is running (if you will ptp). We had swordfish last night which I bought on the street. It was $3,000 pesos for 2 huge fillets (same price as a beer). Not exactly your typical backpacker grub. Unfortunately, it turned out Rodigo was actually a terrible fish. He got really aggressive/abusive with me one of the nights while I was asleep and we subsequently had to call the guards and it was Hasta Luego to Rodrigo.

Mirko who works in the hostel  brought a few of us up into the hills at night for drinks (definitely not advisable on your own). There are spectacular panorama views. Mauricio (another funny fish) from Argentina proclaimed it was the best night of his life. The night ended with Mauritio preforming some Opera. An uncomfortable yet hilarious experience. Mirko is a DJ and rapper so it was quite the contrast! The funny fish has been flocking in their droves a German girl refused to stay in a dorm with just guys as she felt uncomfortable. I took one for the team and gave her my bed, a room full of p’s whats not to love? The symphony of snoring soon transcended the room………HORRENDOUS. In fairness to the funny German girl she was right not to go into the room as it turned out Rodrigo was in the dorm.

Maca is Valaparaiso’s most famous trumpet player. She approached me after my your so vain performance asking me if I want toed see off the beaten track Valparaiso.  She soon came to the conclusion that I am like Eguene from Hey Arnold. She’s amazed how I loose everything (already on third set of hostel keys).  In fairness, probably not an inaccurate comparison. After school one day she took me to her home town. Such an authentic experience. The people here are some of the nicest I’ve ever met.

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Maca Valparaiso’s best trumpet player

Another day, we went to Vina Del Mar which is described as Valparaiso’s glamorous sister. It’s 15 minutes by bus. They are worlds apart but Vina has some nice beaches where I had my first  dip in the sea. This place was badly damaged by a tsunami in 2015. Even when I was swimming the waves were insane and I only found out afterwards your not allowed swim there and I can see why. After some ginger and lemon ice creams Maca brought me to the port where we were lucky to catch the seals and seagulls having their dinner. AMAZING! Maca is so kind and has even taken an interest into the  lowpro gig and is making traditional Chilain food from scratch for one of the videos. Her salsa band were playing on Friday night so a gang of us went.  Definitely one of my highlights so far.

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Going for a casual swim and bumping into this gentlemen
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Beautiful birds are everywhere

The randomness continues, I was invited over to this old lad Alfredo’s house (long story). He  offered me free accommodation and Spanish lessons in his house.  I refused the above but  compromised with tea/cake his in house. The wife was far from impressed and Alfredo turned out to be a complete odd ball. I couldn’t get out any of there quicker.  Alfredo is already looking up flights to Ireland. Luckily I won’t be home so Úna and Dom can deal with that one. Dom is an expert in this department so I have no doubt Alfredo will be well fed with some bread and jam.

As I’ve mentioned before Valparaiso is a complete dream of a place but like anywhere in the world can be dangerous. Unfortunately, I had an extremely terrifying experience one sunny afternoon. I decided to explore some of the narrow hills to take some photos. Out of the blue two men ran towards me with knives screaming for my camera and pulling it from my neck.  You never know how you are going to react in these situations. My instinct was to  scream and sprint and I did; up a really steep hill and with camera around my neck. I tried to find my panic whistle while running (obviously in hindsight the panic whistle was unnecessary). Luckily there was a Man who heard the screaming and ended up scaring off the robbers. I was obviously extremely shook after the whole experience and ended up staying in a grocery shop for about half an hour. Trying to explain the whole situation in Spanish was quite taxing (impossible). I’m sure I made no sense. I re enacted the scene using spoons from their kitchen. They eventually understood and kindly walked me home that afternoon. I was afraid the men would be waiting at the bottom of the hill. This incident  happened only 5 minutes from our hostel. I subsequently found out that it was on of Valparaiso’s most dangerous streets and is a common occurrence. Everyone warns you to be careful with you belongings but you never actually think it will happen to you. I was extremely lucky. It’s definitely taken me a while to get over it but has taught me to be more careful and that I’m not in Dublin anymore.

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Exploring here just before the scene of the crime

Maca my trumpet friend has since equipped me with pepper spray and a pocket knife! It’s just clear than even in day light how careful you have to be here.  Between Rodrigo and the robbers it’s been a slightly traumatizing week but situations like this keep you on your toes and remind you of all the kind people out there.

Let’s hope next week is a little less eventful!

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City of colour
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This little fella followed me home after the attempted robbery! Couldn’t’ have asked for better company
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Having some shut eye
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Valpariaiso; This really reminds me of Howth
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There are 5 stray dogs for every person in Valparaiso. They are absolutely everywhere

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