We made it! We have finally arrived in the coastal city of Valparaiso, with its incredible ocean views and historical city architecture. The city of Valparaiso quickly sparked some interesting sensory functions. Valparaiso rests on a hilltop, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Homes, restaurants, and bars line cobblestone roads that are set at a steep incline all over the city. Today we visited three different hills in Valparaiso that all had a lot of artwork on the houses’ exteriors. They sparked my sight sensory function. Although graffiti art has a negative connotation in the United States, it is encouraged and admired for its beauty in Chile. Most of the artwork that we saw today had so much detail and precision in the painting, which was extremely engaging for the viewers.
On the corners of these cobblestone roads, atop the hills of Valparaiso, you can hear many sounds that bring the streets to life. As we walked from one neighborhood to the next, we heard a wide variety of music. One musician played a simple scale on his violin outside an elevator that transports people up the mountain. Another jazz band featured an upright bass, a trombone, and a woman with a voice that filled the area. We walked by as a large crowd gathered to dance and clap along to the beat of the music. Possibly the most unique music we heard came from an instrument called a handpan.
A handpan is a percussion instrument that looks eerily similar to a saucer that an extraterrestrial might fly in. The handpan sits in one’s lap, and can be played with or without gloved fingers. The man that we found playing the handpan frequently occupies a corner with a view of the ocean, according to our tour guide. With bells around his ankles, the man played the handpan with incredible care and grace. The sounds coming from handpan were similar to sounds of chimes. The instrument was so beautiful, we never wanted to leave. Please enjoy the following video of the man that we listened to this afternoon:
Back to senses – the best thing we touched all day, by far, was the loveable puppies we came across. As we sat on some cool, concrete steps at the port, a caramel brown dog with lonely eyes approached us. He was oh-so-lovey, and nuzzled us accordingly. His fur was matted, but familiar – he reminded us of our own dogs, and his furry, loyal demeanor came with a little lick of home.
After all of the sensory overload today, perhaps the most soothing moments happened when we took the time to stop and smell the flowers. At different points on our walk through the artsy streets of Valparaiso, the summery scents of roses and lilacs penetrated our winter-versed noses. Paired with the salty, warm scent of ocean air, our sniffers really couldn’t have asked for more.
But when we walked down to the dock for dinner, our nostrils were bombarded with a far more pungent odor. Shrimp, scallops, salmon, swordfish – the fishy smells were powerful, but completely worth it. It was an exotic precursor to one of the most delicious dinners we’ve eaten since arriving in Chile.
We went to a beachside restaurant that had some of the best seafood our group has ever tasted. It was a magnificent meal with fantastic service. As we are on the coastline, we hope to have more chances to enjoy seafood that tastes this phenomenal at every meal for the remainder of our trip.
Adios y hasta luego!