...except for me and my monkey! "Everything we see hides another thing. We always want to see what is hidden by what we see." -Rene Magritte

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

´´So, what did you do over the weekend?´´ ´´Oh, I went to Argentina.´´

Or I would have, if it hadn´t started snowing in the Andes and the stupid carabineros had to close the freaking mountain pass and we had to turn around and go back to Valparaiso.

Cucha. La Ica was angry, but more frustrated. Carla was, too. Even more frustrating was that Julia (from Grinnell), Mariah, Carla and I were leaving Valpo on Saturday to meet our friends who had left Friday for Mendoza, Argentina. We arrived at the cordillera after about two and a half hours on the bus--it was actually a pretty pleasant ride through the countryside and wine country, with gorgeous snow-covered mountain views, even if the volume on the on-bus movie was turned to eleven--found out that the pass was closed, and had to turn right around. Carabineros weren´t letting anyone through; it wasn´t safe. And just like that, our plans for the long weekend were shot. Even more frustrating was that we had no way or getting in contact with our friends who were already there, to tell them that we wouldn´t be able to make our pre-arranged meeting time. I had my cell phone with me (I have a cell phone now; call me!) but it wouldn´t make an international call. The only good thing I could think of was that of my two Chilean friends, both had invited me to do things on Monday that I had to turn down because I´d be travelling. Suddenly, Sunday and Monday were wide open.

And as it turned out, I´m glad it happened that way, because the weekend ended up being great--the perfect blend of time spent with North American friends (don´t you dare say ´´American´´ to indicate that someone is from the United States--South Americans are Americans, too), my host family, and Chilean friends. Saturday afternoon, by the time we got back to Valparaíso and got our tickets refunded (at least we got a full refund, and incidentally, it costs less than 20 dollars to travel to Mendoza from Valparaíso--wow!), we didn´t want to head right home, so we went out to lunch. We had a great conversation, lots of laughter, and made plans to meet out later that evening at Ritual, the crazy artsy mosaic bar. Sunday I spent with my host family at Hotelería Copihue, a little mountain getaway inn in the peaceful, provincial pueblo of Olmue about half an hour from Viña. I played with Lisu and her little friend Valentina, whom we had invited, in the heated swimming pool for an hour and half, enjoyed a delicious four-course lunch with my family in the out-door restaurant, and then layed outside and read for over an hour. Bliss.

Monday, Carla and I spent a couple hours walking around Valparaíso with my friend Ronald (he´s the one whom I incorrectly identified as Ronan a couple posts ago), who had offered to give me a tour of his favorite places in the city. We walked over to Cerro Concepción and Cerro Alegre, following the Paseo Yugoslavo, and talked about religion, liberation theology, and ecumenism. We passed by some of the murals of the Museo Cielo Abierto (Open Sky Museum), an incredible, permanent public art display that spans probably a couple miles of Valparaíso. After walking back to the Cathedral, where Ronald was going to Mass to celebrate the Ascension of the Virgin (it´s a national holiday, which is why we didn´t have class on Monday), Carla and I went out for coffee and continued our discussion. Finally, Monday evening, I headed back to Valparaiso--Cerro Baron, this time--for my friend Yasna´s birthday party. It was supposed to start at five; I arrived forty-five minutes ´´late´´ and was the first person there. She, I, two other gringas, and half a dozen of her Chilean friends spent a happy evening watching a movie, singing along to Chilean folk and popular songs busted out on Yasna´s guitar, and discussing politics, Chilean slang, and religion. It was past midnight by the time I left.

So, I guess in conclusion, it wasn´t the weekend I expected, but I´m happy with how it turned out. I met some great people and did a lot of fun things--I wish all weekends could be as nice.