April 03, 2006 GMT
Waiting for Katie

Seems like it´s been years since I said goodbye. I left Katie in a cavernous warehouse in Houston in early February and flew to sunny Santiago. It also seems like years that I´ve been taking Spanish lessons, but it´s only 7 weeks. Now school´s out and it´s time for the real adventure to begin. But the clock seems suddenly uncooperative as its little gears slowly saw away the minutes. Minutes become hours as I wait for the freighter to unload Katie M onto the docks of Valparaiso. I´m so ready to hit the roads and start exploring South America.

My riding partner, Bob Bielesch, arrived a week ago in Santiago. While I spent the last week of school learning pronouns direct, indirect and airmail, Bob was touring the town. While I puzzled through Pretérite Imperfecto, Amigobob was lunching on freshly caught fish and glasses of white wine. All in all, Amigobob had a great reintroduction to Chile. I now have command of a unique version of spanglified piglatin.

Saying goodbye to my gracious homestay hostess Maria is not easy after living in her home for seven weeks. Maria hosts both university students and others, like myself, attending spanish lessons at the Terra Australis Escuela. She has provided me with a tranquil place to stay, meals and clean laundry, all for a very reasonable price. I should be so lucky to stay in places like this in North America. I make it easier (on me) to say goodbye by giving Maria a small gift. As families are very important in Chile, Maria, like women everywhere, sacrifices for the benefit of her family. I choose one she can only use on herself.


On Saturday we jump on the bus to Viña del Mar and an hour and half later we´re at the coast. We are expecting the bikes on Monday and arrive a couple of days early as if that would speed up the waiting time. It doesn´t but we take advantage of the wait to tour Viña and Valparaiso.


On Friday evening, while freighters ride at anchor, the sun sets a chromatic gold in the west, casting a theatrical and romantic spotlight along the playa promenade. On the black and white tiled sidewalk, a man and woman in black tights dance the tango to the music of their boombox casette player. Their moves are exotic, smooth and in perfect rhythm with each other and the setting sun. A crowd gathers. The dancers´black top hat, overturned on the sidewalk, gathers coins and bills from grateful admirers. I take a movie with my digital camera and watch their moving language of latin love unfold.

The change of scenery is a nice reward for the weekend. Valparaiso is a photograph´s dream if the mission is to find unusual images to capture. Everyday people, like the street sweepers below, are quite often pleased to have their picture taken. The digital camera allows the great advantage of reviewing their picture immediately after taken. They are pleased, so I am. People pictures are important.


The ascensors, the turn-of-the-century cable-driven elevators, take us half way up the Florida Cerro to the Gato Tuerto, a bright yellow restaurant perched on the cliff edge. From the open air deck we enjoy the sweeping vista of the Valpo bay. I have pollo con arozz (chicken with rice) with a frosty medio litro of cerveza on the side.


In a day or so we´ll meet with the fine folks at the Aduana offices and see what needs to be done to gain possession of our trusty (and I hope not rusty) steeds. It may be some time before another chapter is posted, as it´ll take awhile to adjust to the travelling mode and looking for internet shops in all the wrong places.

Posted by Murray Castle at April 03, 2006 05:25 PM GMT

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