Summer is barbecue season in the Netherlands. As you arrive to the Vondelpark, custom is to lay your bike on the ground before doing the same with your body. Some prefer to leave it standing. After all, not everyone has got a bright red saddle cover.
This is the second instalment from Valparaiso, Chile, that locals simply call “Valpo”. The key of my stay here is that I’m going for a “normal, every day life”. I’m not striving to check out the touristic stuff, but rather to do my own thing and live things as locals do.
Since the last time I wrote, I have found a permanent accomodation for the time I’ll be here. I have a small, very small room in the center of the town, just 50 meters away from the sea! The houses on the hills are actually the most sought after here in Valparaiso: they are cuter, quieter and the view on the bay is gorgeous.
In the center, housing is cheaper and you are closer to everything: supermarkets, squares, shops, and most importantly the numerous universities and the library – that’s where you can find me often these days, working on my laptopito. The center is also the place where to go out at night and walking back home without having to climb a hill. Here’s a pic from one night out with my housemate Lesly and her friends, in a massive 4-storey venue called “Huevo” (The Egg). We attended 3 different cover bands – Pink Floyd, Doors and Soda Estereo (an Argentinian band very big in South America) – and then danced the night off.
I’m really glad to be living with a Chilean person: we speak Spanish all the time (and she’s learning some useful Italian words, like “pipistrello“), and this is kinda awakening my latin roots. One day I was talking on Skype in Dutch and I inadvertently spoke Dutch to Lesly. She looked at me eyes wide open, very scared at those threatening sounds – it was hilarious! Also, we get along well and I get to meet her friends. This way I really spend most of my social time with locals, joining their activities and making my way into Valparaiso’s life. For instance, one day we had a barbecue in the Botanic Garden of Viña del Mar, a neighbouring town. Big hooray for the South American Summer!
Little funny fact: the popular Chorizo sausage is very present here as well, but it’s different than both the Spanish and Mexican ones. While the first is a kind of salami and the latter is something you spread over bread, here it comes in the pure form of a raw sausage, as in it has to be cooked. Its shape is also different, being a kind of short, stubby sausage. Think of The Simpson’s fingers, just red. Bakeries then sell this bread where a Chorizo fits precisely in; the result is called “Choripan” (from “pan“, bread) and it’s fantastic. We did it at the barbecue, this pic will show you the building bricks.
Speaking of food: among the different things that you can buy here, what striked me the most are the onions. They are massive! The shape is the same but they easily grow 15-18 cm wide! A single one of them is the equivalent of four or five standard onions in Holland. Here I’m holding one in my hand, which is pretty big!
They came from the huge fruit & vegetable market nearby, which I enjoy visiting and where food is very cheap. There is the usual mix of smells and yelling, only in Spanish with Chilean accent.
One day we went to a free Kayak lesson, on the shores a bit further North. Diego and Maria, two people I had contacted through Couchsurfing were also there at the pier. We got completely wet but it was super fun (and good excercise) to row around.
See you later and one more hooray for the Summer Sun!