Tuesday, 16 November 2010
Last week marked our first foray out of the city and to the coast as we tagged along with DH for a conference. Not quite as glamorous as it sounds as it wasn't exactly the five-star treatment and golden sands. Rather it entailed the children and myself wandering around the vibrant though ramshackle port town of Valparaiso, trying to find our bearings and keep warm in the cool, cloudy mornings while also being prepared to peel off our layers like onions once the sun came out later in the day. Valparaiso itself is an interesting destination for grown-ups: a picturesque UNESCO site of world heritage for its colourful houses perched on its 45 hills and once the principal port in South America until the opening of the Panama Canal, it is now teeming with tourists from far-flung places while also apparently a hang-out for hippies of all ages and persuasions. The children enjoyed climbing up and down the steps, watching the boats and of course were desperate to get their shoes and socks off and play in the sand. Trying to avoid losing anything either in the steep winding streets of the hills or in the hustle and bustle of the busy flat area near the port with two children, plenty of snacks and drinks and all those jackets and jumpers was always going to be difficult. Dipsy (DD2's favoured soft toy) was the first casualty, coming a cropper on the way to our bohemian boarding house (run by an enigmatic Frenchman with flowing locks), but by the end of our stay we had also managed to mislay a purple sock, a sun hat and some Chilean pesos. Highlights of the stay included getting close to swimming and resting sea-lions on a boat trip and watching seagulls and pelicans flying over the rugged waves of the Pacific Ocean while the children had their afternoon of frolicking on the beach. It was good to have a change of scene and coming back to Santiago afterwards for the first time felt like coming home.