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...two travellers in search of the world's wildlife

5 July 2011

Valparaiso impressions

4th July 2011

Dodging dog shits.

What can I say? We took a walk into the city today and my clearest recollection is the sheer number of dog shits that we needed to avoid on the pavements. Been in a lot of different cities this year, never seen anything close to this amount.

There are a lot of picturesquely run-down and tatty old buildings clinging to the convoluted hillsides and huddling on the flat port area. There are also a lot of demolished buildings where half a windowless facade hides a weed-strewn plot and timbers holding up the adjacent blocks. The overall effect is of a few missing teeth in a smoker’s tarnished smile.

Valpa also seems to be a good city for graffiti, with acres of wall space covered in street art that is generally a lot more interesting than the spray-can tags of London outskirts. What with the houses in their grubby kaleodoscope of mis-matched and pollution-scuffed colours and the equally grimed primaries of the graffiti artists, Valparaiso looks like Joseph’s Technicolour Dreamcoat after Joe has spent a few years sleeping rough in it under Waterloo Bridge.

It’s chilly too. Chilly in Chile could be the front-page headline for our trip here, I suppose. It’s our silly fault for being here in winter. But we’re in a civilised city, we ought to be able to take sanctuary from the cold whenever we wish by disappearing into a restaurant or cafe. But no, we huddled over our seafood lunch in our jackets and later perched on stools in a modern cafe and drank our coffees quickly before they grew cold and also because it was marginally warmer to be striding briskly along the street than to sit shivering in an unheated cafe.

Hmm. At night the city looks like a huge blanket of stars draped over a sleeping giant. We’ll see what tomorrow brings.


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