Valpo Trip and Gringa Winning


Monday, Monday.

No one likes them. Although, to be honest, I think I’m one of those people who kind of likes them…..the worst, right? I hate Tuesdays, but on Monday, I forget just how bad work or school can actually be, so I have illusions of fun. But on Monday night no one is happy.

But as much as I like to pretend I’m a working women, it seems I’m basically unemployed as is, because not ONLY do I have…like…maybe 5 classes (I mean sessions in total, not like a M/W class and then another T/R class) total, but many of these classes are cancelled this week because of semana santa. And no, that does not mean I get paid holidays. The lack of income needs to change, and it’s my own fault for not being proactive at the moment and trying to sell myself in the streets for private lessons, but I’m getting there. I even made a flyer…just need to find a place to print it. Why does Chile hate printing?? Printing can be a good thing, just not excessive printing. Makes it hard to be a teacher when printers are so rare.

But, enough of boring “WORK” problems, lets talk about fun things, like my trip this weekend to Valpo with Katie. It was a super easy trip. Basically just a few hops on the metro and an hour and a half bus ride and voila! It cost about 5,500 pesos (ten dollars? ish?) for an ida y vuelta which is really cheap.

Due to a late night out Friday, Katie and I sort of scrambled to the bus stop on Saturday around noon without any sort of plan whatsoever. The consequence of which was a lot of random wandering around Valpo, which actually is the way to go anyway.  Katie and I decided to call all this haphazardness “gringa moments”. For example, not understanding what people are saying to us would be a gringa fail, and finally finding a hostel  would be gringa winning.  Pisco=gringa winning.

Valpo is truly one of the most visually stunning places I’ve been. It reminded me a little bit of a cross between parts of Italy and Portugal, with its own Chilean flavor mixed in. The city itself isn’t very organized and there isn’t really any sort of central plaza. It’s a big, crazy hodgepodge of colors, graffiti, hills, passageways, stray dogs, and broken bottles.But therein lies the charm. Its bohemia defined, with colors and art at every corner, like walking in a moving, breathing painting.

Even though my feet were really tired by the end of the day, it worth the pain to walk around and get lost in crooked streets and alleyways. We had one midday meal, what I deemed “dunch” that was so fatty and filling we couldn’t eat again til 1pm the next day. I seem to always want to order pollo a lo pobre. This is probably because it is one of the few things I recognize on the menu, and also because I always forget just how big that dish really is and how bad my stomach feels afterwards. Oh well?


There is art on every wall and building, some promoting political agendas, others just celebrating playful colors and child-like imaginations.

I desperately wanted to get a little place on the hill and just eat avocados and drink wine while writing my new novel. Oh, the fantasies of English majors.

Saturday night Katie and did some more wandering and went out for a few pisco sours at a local bar. Sunday morning we checked out of the hostal (which was awful, very dirty and loud) and starting hiking up the hil towards the La Casa de Pablo Neruda. The museum/house was very cool. I loved the collection of odds and ends in his house, the quirky furniture and collections of maps, toys, and strange trinketts. The view was spectacular. With that view, anyone could be a poet!

Although, unfortunately most of us don’t produce poetry quite like this, but we can try:

“I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way

than this: where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.”

– Sonnet XVII by Pablo Neruda

Right. Food blog. Truth is, I did not eat much worth blogging in Valpo. We desperately tried to get some seafood, namely ceviche, but Sunday not much was open and we didn’t know were to go, so we just went to a little Chilean place. I ordered Cazuela de Ave (shout out to Amy who recommended I try it) which can be made with with chicken (ave) or beef. The soup is made by boiling the meat with potato (or squash) and a piece of corn (during the summer months). The broth is also served with either rice or noodles, and some small pieces of vegetable like green beans, peppers, possibly peas, and maybe some parsley or fresh herbs. The recipe is originally a Spanish dish but has been adapted to Chilean flavors and ingredients. My cazuela had a big hunk of calabaza and a little potatoes, with some rice swimming on the bottom. It was fresh, healthy, and left me filling full and warm.

Katie and I can’t seem to keep a straight face.

Hope everyone has a good week and I hope to have more adventures, both culinary and otherwise, to blog about soon!
Besitos…ciao!

Grace Geiger

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Valpo Trip and Gringa Winning

  1. Dad

    Thanks for the tour. I KNOW I would love a place like that!

  2. Pingback: Cazuela de Ave and Learning Chilean Spanish | Pan&Pisco

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