Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Wednesday, Sept. 24
I wake up in a Pablo Neruda poem:
The Pacific Ocean spilled off the map!
There wasn't anywhere to put it. It was so big,
chaotic and blue that it didn't fit anywhere.
That's why they put it in front of my window.
(my translation of a fragment of "Una Casa en la Arena," displayed in Spanish on the living room table at Neruda's coast house, La Sebastiana, now a hilltop museum in Valparaiso)
Well, OK, the sea isn't right outside my hostel window; a classic car covered in spraypaint under a twisty "Where the Wild Things Are"-esque mural occupies that view. But if I were to slide down the steep cobbled street lined with candy-colored buildings, over a few precipitous drops, I'd eventually splash into the salty cold Pacific.
Valparaiso is an artist colony, a Dr. Seuss/Tim Burton town, packed with delightful absurdities. It's a playland, with impossibly stacked hills and houses connected by skinny twisty staircases and incline cars. Every wall is a canvas for murals, graffiti art, revolutionary declarations. Flowers grow from the spaces between cobbles in the streets. Artesan shops and hip little cafes and nasturtium vines sprout from the sides of narrow, winding streets. Men play drums on the propane tanks loaded onto the backs of trucks. The city spills colors all over itself.
Wish I could stay here all week. But tomorrow, alas, we're off.
-Kera Abraham; photo by Robin Parrott
Posted at 9:28 PM