Archive for September, 2011

The Wall

Posted on September 30, 2011 by 3 Comments

“They let the kids here write on the walls?” Bode asked as we rode the bus around town.

“Uh, kind of.”

Somehow, Bode has never heard of the word ‘graffiti’. Valparaiso is a pretty good place to learn.

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Down to Valpo

Posted on September 28, 2011 by No Comments

We’ve heard all sorts of great things about Valparaíso, so it was definitely on our list of places to see.

We set out south from the beach at Ritoque and it didn’t take long before we started seeing condos and high-rises. We stopped for lunch in Con Con, which is mostly a strip of condos climbing the hill along the beachfront. Even though the place seemed a bit more upscale than our usual stops, Red Beard still got it’s usual welcome from the local dogs.

South from here, things don’t change much. condo-condo-restaurant. condo-condo-restaurant. As predicable as Fred Flintstone running though his living room. It’s all ‘nice’ and sanitized, but a little boring.

Vina del Mar was even more tidy. It reminded me a little bit of San Diego. A few kilometers south to Valpo and things start to look a little more interesting.

If the California comparisons are in order, then Valparaiso must be San Francisco (but a tad grittier: maybe closer to Oakland). There has even been a huge trading connection between the two cities since the gold rush, and a pretty similar history too.

Soggy, but colorful wooden Victorians sliding down the foggy hillsides. Seedy sailors and wide-eyed tourists wandering the town. San Francisco has cable cars – Valpo has funiculars. Cold rocky Pacific coastline. Wine country a short ride away. I could go on.

Our first day was spent trying to figure out our way around in the rain. Not recommended. Once you turn up a hill, you’re committed to the whole climb. We slipped and slid and spun out on wet cobblestones all the way up the steep hills. The bus did great.

 

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Ritoque

Posted on September 27, 2011 by No Comments

Never heard of Playa Ritoque, Chile?

Neither had we.

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El Tebo

Posted on September 26, 2011 by 1 Comment

It’s a short walk down a sandy road to find the entrance to Playa El Tebo. You have to look closely.

I was a little surprised to see that so much of the Chilean coast is inaccessible – by you and me, anyway. It’s been divided up, sold and fenced off. If it weren’t for a little paths required by the government, you may not even get to see the ocean in some areas.  For some reason, I imagined the long coast as being wild and open. Hopefully, it will get wilder as we move farther south.

The little entrance at El Tebo leads you down a narrow kilometer-long fenced-in corridor to the beach. It’s nice once you’re down there.

Bode was playing in the water with an overly-eager local dog when he was knocked down. He was soaked down to his Stormtrooper underwear with the cold Pacific water. Thus began the long march back up the path wearing nothing but my hoodie to go find some warm dry clothes.

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Horcon

Posted on September 24, 2011 by 2 Comments

It was a fairly random choice, but we have really enjoyed the little town of Horcon. There’s not much here, but that’s what’s so nice.

We’re camped up the hill in El Tebo where we have all the amenities – hot showers, electricity and even wi-fi! However, we did have to ask for a light bulb. This seems to be a precious commodity, as virtually all of the sockets are empty. A 20W bulb was unscrewed from somewhere else on the property and moved to our picnic bench.

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Back to the Coast

Posted on September 23, 2011 by 3 Comments

This week the Chileans celebrated their independence, and I think they may surpass the Americans in their patriotism. Every house, business and most cars were sporting a flag. It was a strange sight for us, as the flag is quite similar to the Texas flag.

One good thing about a skinny country like Chile–within a couple hours, we were out of the Andes and back at the beach. We drove right to the sand and spent the day relaxing sea side.  Hard to believe it was snowing this morning.

Horcon is a cool little fishing town, and it was packed for the holiday weekend. 10 people throughout the day must have come up to the bus to check it out. Only a few asked for beer.

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This does not suck.

Posted on September 22, 2011 by 4 Comments

It turns out that the U.S. Women’s Olympic Ski Team is here. Training on our mountain. They love this place. Next week, the women leave and the men’s team arrives. Funny – I wonder why they are separated ;)

We’ve already met some really cool people, and there are lot’s of gringos here. All hardcore skiers & boarders. We miss this crowd – it’s been too long. I can even hear myself talking more like a dude each day.

Bode first got on skis when he was 3, and by age 4 he could ride down from the top of Alpine Meadows and we cruised all over Kirkwood. He was one of those little shredders that would piss you off when they went flying past you. After a 2-year break, he’s got some catching up to do. Aside from growing bigger and his muscles and balance changing, he now has to replace some of that fearlessness with actual technique.

He wanted to take a group class, but ended up with his own instructor – Lea, from Austria (Princess Lea) – and they took off. Bode talked a good game, but I’m not sure he completely backed it up on the hill. Still, he rocked it. We spotted him from the lift a few times and it’s pretty amazing to see him so far off and on his own – in the Andes!

We’re really proud of him, but also a little sad to feel like he’s growing up so quickly. It won’t be long before he takes off and is gone all day. I’m no authority, but I think that’s one of the paradox’s of parenting: you’re succeeding when they don’t need you anymore.

Lea was really cool and had nice things to say when they were finished.  And, we made a pseudo-date to ride with her in Innsbruck. We met lots of other cool folks and even the U.S. ski team doctor, from Taos. After each person met Bode, they told us that Bode Miller‘s old coach is here too. We didn’t ask if he was willing to take another one.

If we weren’t so late in the season, maybe we could figure out a way to linger and be ski bums. There’s always next year.

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