{10.8.14} Musings on Valparaíso night life over a steaming cup of morning tea

Of a Sunday morn

To put yourself in the mood, go to 33:54

Today is Día del Niño. Starting at 7 in the morning, vendors started setting up their stands, blowing up their inflatable toys and filling their little pools for plastic fish full of water. By noon, with traffic rerouted, the street below my window was filled with a brightly-colored multitude.



bouncy castle envy

So last night, I was under the impression that a friend from my Morality of Sexuality theology class was going to get me to a birthday party. I forgot that in Chile, plans always, without fail, change. I didn’t want the highlight of my night to be online banking for an hour, so I decided to go out anyways when he didn’t text me. Probably not the safest thing I have ever done, walking around the streets of 11pm-1am Valparaíso, but it turned out ok. 

Valparaíso is best described in words with “vi”. Vivid. Vibrant. Vital. Vivacious. Lively. Vim and vigor. During the day, there is the noise and hustle and bustle around the markets, which are literally everywhere in the plan (flat part of the city). Even the dead things, like harvested fruit and vegetables and fish, emit a pungent and unsquelchable odor, elbowing their way into the potpourri. The sidewalks are always providing ample opportunities to practice people-, scarf-stand- and nut-cart-dodging. In the night, the format doesn’t change so much, just the contents. Instead of dodging different kinds of things, you dodge different kinds of people. It seems like everyone goes out on the town on the weekend nights. Women wear leggings or skinny jeans and black leather jackets, hair straightened, not shy with the mascara. Men in their jeans, calculatingly casual leather shoes and matching leather jackets, not shy with the hair gel. Further from the bars with a $50 cover, that changes a bit, but the basic pattern stays. There are the middle-aged couples hand-in-hand walking to their middle age people bars. Large amoebic blobs of 20-somethings waiting in quarter-mile-long lines to get patted down to get into their discos. Small bands of guys walking quickly, seemingly pursuing the girls walking arm-in-arm smoking their cigarettes and teetering slightly on their heels. Then there’s the fringe. Those are the actually interesting ones. 
I met a group of african drummers (drums, not people, were african). They were playing impossibly quickly, watering the drums with sweat dripping off of their faces, to a small crowd of people at 11pm. A small, I think cognitively disables, guy in a rainbow sweater was putting on some moves that would have put Michael Jackson, Elvis and Channing Tatum to shame. After he departed, the crowd dispersed and soon thereafter the group packed up. I talked to Sergio who told me there’s a festival of 1000 drums that happens the first weekend of October. It is going to be awesome. 
There were, of course, the the groups of guys on the street corners catcalling women who walked by. I got some ironic comments on my glasses and the obligatory “I love you” as I walked away, laughing to myself. I have come to see the piropos, as their called, more as an interesting anthropological phenomenon than something to get all hot and bothered over. I guess I am caving into the machismo or something. 
Just as I was arriving back home at 1am, I watched a tiny blind man with his guitar and duffel bag get a snack and then try to catch a colectivo to take him home. He stood there on the curb, tapping it with his cane, turning expectantly at the sound of each car as it slowed at the intersection. I was getting ready to go tap him on the shoulder and ask what I could do, or have some transcendent experience like in Amélie, but just then a colectivo pulled up, flagged down by a couple of young guys who had been talking nearby. They ushered the blind man in and soon thereafter caught their own transportation home. How incredible to have to live by the kindness of stranger to do the simplest things like catch a ride home. And yet, this man also obviously works for his living, probably playing guitar on the sidewalk. Even though he has a good excuse to wait for the money without doing anything, he would rather give for what he takes instead of just waiting for pity in the form of pocket change like so many young punks and old drunks do here. I’ve always been a get-up-and-doer, but I can’t imagine keeping that up in the face of such a large measure of helplessness in navigating the world around me. 

I think that’s enough philosophizing for now. Time to go join the throngs of small children and investigate the bouncy castles from an angle other than above. Chao chao!

As always, for more photos you can check out the Google+ album
I am also trying out WordPress for the blog, because blogger has almost zero options. I welcome feedback on format, or whatever! Shall probably switch soon. 

One Comment Add yours

  1. Soren Hauge says:

    What rich street life! I can almost hear and smell it. I hope you enjoyed the bouncy castles and balloons.


What are your thoughts?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s