Up the Coast of Chile

coast north of Valparaiso

coast north of Valparaiso

This morning after a great breakfast of fresh fruit, yogurt, cheese, meat, rolls, real coffee at out B&B La Nona in Valparaiso, we drove north to Zapallar, a town built on the steep coast of the Pacific. Following the map we finally made our way to the coast road which kept diverting inland. We passed Vina del Mar which made Palm Beach, Florida look like a shanty town. Vina del Mar is for the big boys of Chile, a couple of miles of fantastic highrises, some twenty stories, not what I would want for a country with earthquakes. (We had a mild one yesterday.) Fancy street lights trimmed with manicured hanging plants, tanned, thin men and women jogging in perfect jogging clothes, such a contrast to Valparaiso, we wondered if we had crossed a border somewhere.

On up the coast, the landscape became more arid, filled with the cactus and scrub of the desert. We finally found Zapallar perched between elaborate gated condominums. No hotels, just luxury houses. A Porsche passed us on a dirt road. When we asked, the only hotel was $230. US a night, we have been paying about $80.+ so we passed it up. Backtracking to another town, we found cabanas by the sea but they were complete houses rented for a week or more. The place reminded us of a small part of Hampton Beach. We had a funny experience where we stopped at a seaside restaurant. When pressed they showed me bunks over the bar, but we weren’t that desperate. The a waiter got into our rental car with a key from his boss and directed us to a “cabana” in a poor barrio next to farmers with livestock, a couple of miles from the beach. We politely declined and headed inland to Los Andes, a town where we found a hotel recommended by Lonely Planet.

Los Andes is a market town but it has decent ice cream, an American style hotel and a restaurant. We will only be here for one night. Certainly not as exciting as Valparaiso. We tried the Anthropological Museum, it was closed. The owner of the car parts store next door insisted the museum should not be closed and rang the bell, but the person who had opened it in the morning had gone home.

We found the Spanish Beneficent Society was open, no one appeared so I took photographs. Then as we walked back along the other side of the street, someone closed the door. We ate ice cream at a tiny shop near the park and sauntered home.

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