Street Art of Valparaíso: A Photo Essay

Or: How NOT to Visit Pablo Neruda’s House.

As I was originally voicing my doubts about Santiago, everyone told me “you HAVE to visit Valparaíso.” While I generally bristle when people tell me I have to do anything (just ask Mike), I figured it was probably wise to see at least something in Chile outside of the big smoggy capital.

When we first arrived I wasn’t terribly impressed by the lack of beaches and the general crowdedness of the place. Unsure what to do with ourselves, we decided to visit the house of poet Pablo Neruda. It was at the top of a massive hill, the kind that would make San Francisco jealous, but there was supposed to be a cable car along the way somewhere. Well, we never found the cable car, but I fell in love:

That’s because to get there we wandered through the uphill neighborhood of Bellavista which is home to the Museo a Cielo Abierto, the open sky museum. It’s a rambling collection of beautiful murals and street art:

Finally, when we couldn’t climb any higher, we reached the gates of Pablo Neruda’s quirky home only to find…. it was closed.

We should have known. All museums in Chile close on Mondays, we had just kind of forgotten that it was a Monday.

When you’ve just hiked an hour completly up hill to a closed museum there can only be two reactions:

1. Anger.

2. Hysterical laughter and the sheer incredulity of the situation.

We chose option two, giggled at ourselves for awhile and then began the equally pretty descent back to town.

So I never did get to see Pablo Neruda’s house OR ride a funicular. By the time we reached the bottom of the hill I didn’t really care though. As always, it’s the stuff that takes the most effort that is the most worth doing.

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