A New Confession

Forgive me blog for I have sinned, it has been 14 days since my last entry.
A lot has happened in two weeks, so I'm going to break it down into little snippets.

Sep. 14th - 17th.
- We had to catch a bus to Argentina to renew our visas, as we were going to be around 17 days over staying our welcome by the time we leave the country.
The trip: bus tickets, food and shelter for 3 nights is actually cheaper than paying the visa extension fee or the "you stayed too long" fee you would pay at customs. So we took a pain in the ass bus back to pain in the ass Argentina, for the pain in the ass process of renewing our visas.
However we ended up having a great time. Mendoza is still a strip mall, but we made the best of it.
We went to a wine tasting!

Which included, for each of us, 5 FULL glasses of different wines, including the famous Malbec, 5 different spreads to accompany each, bread and a fancy cheese plate. This whole spread ran us just over $15 USD a piece!

Sep 17th - 19th
- We got back to Valpo with a wine hang over just in time for Chile's Dia de Independencia! I'm hoping you can figure out that translation. Although the reason for the holiday only took one day, the celebration here last about 3.

The independence day experience here is very similar to the one in the States, only longer.
Lots of drinking, out door BBQ's (Asado aqui), plaza fiestas and dancing. All it lacks is fireworks in comparison.

Sep. 19th - 20th
We worked at the hostel.

Patiperro Hostel

I built a bar upstairs out of old doors for the 'soon to open' hostel cáfe.

Sep. 21st - today
- We have seriously been enjoying the spring weather here in Valparaiso, spending time at the beach and walking around the city, looking at great graffiti.

We board a plane one week from today headed for the USA. Personally, I'm terrified. Of course I want to come home and see my family and friends, we all have some great things planned. But there is something about the ten months I've spent here that I can't wrap up into description.
I've changed, I've chilled.
Will that become lost when I come back to the mother land?

I can't wait to see everyone, pick up where we left off.
I just hope I still make sense...not that I ever made sense...does that make sense?

- Jameson


Hostel Love

This weekend our hostel hosted a wedding. One of the owners best friends got married in the courtyard and the party took place in all the hostels shared spaces. It was insanely packed full of people, music, pisco, wine, meat and garlic sauces. The whole experience was a bit overwhelming, but it was truly amazing to experience a Chilean wedding. Granted it wasn't traditional at all and didn't vary much from a united states wedding, except that they partied two nights in a row.

The most interesting difference we noticed was how large Chilean families interact in moments of celebration. We had heard tell of the loud banter and teasing, but seeing is believing. They picked on each other, affectionately of course, SO much more than a family from the states. Our poor little sensitive US hearts would have exploded five minutes in. Its not just with siblings either, mom, dad, uncle Jorge all pick and tease. I kind of enjoyed it, nothing says I love you like a good roast, especially when you are getting married.

We´ll consider this a right of passage

From Laney:
We took a long walk yesterday along the water. We found all the battleships resting in the navy´s port and we found some small rocky beaches. The waves poured against the shore and ran through the stones back to the ocean, creating a sound similar to a wet rain stick.

After we had walked as far as we wanted we turned around and decided to go up through the hills to come home. So, we were walking, walking, everything seemed fine. Then somehow we ended up at a dead end being barked at by two unfriendly dogs. This was a sign. Most street dogs in Valpo are too lazy and beaten down by city life to bark. These two extremely territorial dogs sent the message to all their friends in the neighborhood and every single dog on the hill was barking at us. We headed down and out of the barrio as quick as we could. The street below felt more safe. It was busier, more open. But alas, as we walked quickly we heard two sets of quicker feet and as soon as we turned around to see who it was some hijo de puta (excuse my Spanish) grabbed me, cut my fanny pack off my hip with a knife and ran up the hill into some house.

Luckily I had moved my credit card into my bra as soon as we had the run in with the dogs. The only thing the thieves got away with was some chap stick and a broken camera with a smashed view finder which I had accidentally stepped on back in April. Stupid thieves. I´m glad that robbing me was a financial waste of time.When it happened I was a bit shook up, but honestly just a bit. I was more angry than anything. Now at least Jameson and I know to advise our guests to be careful, even in the daytime and to not carry their passports or money with them. Or if they do, to keep it tucked away in their shoes.

From Jameson:
During our walk we saw a sea gull with a broken wing wash up on shore. It was struggling for life, and tripped its way to the dry stones in the sun away from the tide. It was hard to watch, but nature is not as compassionate as I. If the birds wings do not dry and its unable to take off, it will be easy food. For a crustacean, a lobo marino or other birds. That's nature, survival. Its not cruel or uncompassionate, just part of life.

After the robbery happened I thought of the sea gull.Out of place, easy to take advantage of, consumed by a rat.Its part of nature. It could happen anywhere.Some animals have no compassion.

That night we went to a street fiesta put on by a traveling clown troop. It was great, one guy had a balloon animal mask of a monkey and he was shooting balloon animals into the crowd as they danced.

Last night I dreamt of the robbery. My subconscious played through all of the scenarios. Myself, running after him. Fighting him, winning, losing. I woke up a dozen times trying to shake what makes us animals, those protective instincts, the violence which I believe we should evolve out of. I'm sure it didn't help that I watched the last half of Martin Scorses´s "Cape Fear" last night before I went to sleep.

I´ve recently adopted a more thorough form of pacifism; that of no form violence is acceptable violence. Restraint yes, protection yes, but there is a difference between an action to merit an escape from a bad situation, and an action to try and dominate it. Some argue that peace is unnatural, that our natural world, even down to the weather, doesn´t seek peace. Whether this is true or not, nature also doesn´t seek cures for diseases, it doesn´t show compassion to the underprivileged, it fights with other males to determine who will sleep with the female, consensual or not. We have evolved beyond certain pack animal traditions already, and yet violence is still glorified, still conditioned.

I´m not unhappy about the robbery, no one was hurt, only material things have been removed from our possession, replaceable things, and I am put to test. To examine why my mind defaults to alpha male thoughts, I suppose that is the only fight I want to win.


Street Art

Ode to Valparaiso - Pablo Neruda

I found the first two stanzas of this poem in a lonley planet and it seemed to perfectly describe the chaotic beauty that is our current home. I searched the internet, book stores, and even the Pablo Neruda Musem gift shop for an English versions of the poem and was unsucessful, so I spent a few hours doing my best to translate it. I´m sure that it all makes much more sense in Spanish but the jist is just enough for me to appreciate the poem. It´s talking about how Valparaiso is a chaotic and longsuffering little port, which has survived many a earthquake and tusnami and yet continues to paint itself in all different colors and build the slanted tin and wooden homes all along it´s sides.

Ode to Valparaiso
By: Pablo Neruda
Translated by: Laney Sullivan

What nonsense
You are
What a crazy
Insane Port.
Your mounded head
You never finish combing your hair
Life has always surprised you
Death woke you
In your undershirt and long underwear
Fringed with color
With a name tattooed on the stomach
And with a cap
The earthquake grabbed you
You ran
Broke your fingernails
It moved
The waters and the stones
And seas
The night,
You would sleep
In the ground
From your sailing
And the furious earth
Lifted its waves
More stormy
Than a tempest
The dust
Covered you
The eyes
The flames
Burned your shoes
The solid
Houses of bankers
Like wounded whales
While above
The houses of the poor
Into nothingness
Like captive birds
Testing their wings

You forget
the tears
and you return
to hanging your dwellings
to paint doors
You transform into a boat
Your are
The patched bow
Of a small
The crowns nest
With foam
Your rope lines that sing
And the light of the ocean
That shakes the masts
And flags
In your indestructible swaying

Dark star
You are
From far away
In the height of the coast
And soon
You surrender
Your hidden fire
The rocking
Of your deaf alleys
The naturalness
Of your movement
The clarity
Of your seamanship
Here ends this ode

So small
Like a cloth
Ragged in a Window
In the Wind
of the ocean
With all the pain
Of your ground
The dew
Of the sea, the kiss
Of the wild angry sea
That with all of its power
Beat the rocks
It could not
Knock you down
Because on your southern chest
Is tattooed
The struggle
The hope
The solidarity
And the joy
As anchors
The waves of the earth.


Back in Valpo.

We are wrapping up the last month and some weeks in our favorite city Valparaiso.
That is Valparaiso, not Valdivia, where we just were. I know the two "Val`s" can be confussing.
Both cities are great, but very diffrent.

So we arrived yesterday in VALPARAISO and took a romantic stroll with the city among it`s graffitied walls.

We sat on one of the many hills over looking the city, children were flying white kites from their pastel colored porches and the port was filled with waves from the shipping boats.

Our neighbor practices tangos on the accordion in the evening.

The sky is blue, the weather is perfect, and our feet are tired from walking around in wonder.