After receiving news that I didn’t get the grant I applied for [which means no Colombia for me this summer] the universe must have felt just a little bad for me and gave me a long string of little bits of good luck.
I left on Thursday for Valparaiso with Cori and Lisa where we saw La Sebastiana, one of three of Pablo Neruda’s houses, and the only house where you can wander around at your own free will. It was filled with all sorts of trinkets, stained glass, and beautiful ocean and Valpo hillside views through giant windows. My favorite thing is that they had his books out to read all over the house; I definitely fell in love with his poetry this weekend. Maybe it was just being in the house, but everything I read sounded fantastically beautiful. I remember reading Ode to My Socks in 12th grade English class and just being confused/indifferent. It was nice to read the poetry in Spanish and see that a lot of times it was poor translating that made the poetry awkward.
We wandered into a random bar later that night that had great live music for the finale of good luck day #1.
In the morning we headed to Isla Negra, which is south of Valpo, to see another one of Neruda’s houses. We knew we were going to be late as we got stuck in a taco (traffic jam), but ended up meeting a nice couple on the bus. Actually, we didn’t meet them until we got off the bus, they just eyed us up through out the trip…particularly while I sang the English words along with the Spanish translation of Boyz II Men’s I Swear. But, they helped us find the Neruda house, and even though we missed our reservation we got some empanadas, sat on the beach, and then went back when the house re-opened and got a tour of the house with the most impressive set of collections (pipes, bottles, shells, miniature guitars, insects, etc.) that I have ever seen. I also bought THE best presents from the gift shop.
After some more lounging on the beach we set out to find somewhere to stay, which we were warned would be a near impossible task because it was Semana Santa and all Chileans had flocked to the coast, but after asking one random man he directed us a few blocks down the street. We managed to rent our own cabana with 3 beds for about 20 USD. The highlight of the stay was when we were leaving and saying goodbye to the old man that we had chatted with a bit through out our time there.
“So, what brought you to Isla Negra? Neruda?” he asked through heavily accented Spanish. We smile and confirm.
“Neruda was a friend of mine you know. Yeah, him and Salvador Allende. I have a picture of us all together in 1958 when Allende was campaigning for president for the first time. I didn’t even know about Neruda’s poetry, I hadn’t read anything of his, I just met him through politics. He belonged to the Communist Party and supported Allende. I’m a Communist too, I have been for 71 years, since I was her age [points at Lisa]. Yep, all of the people that come here to visit every year don’t understand that practically every person in Isla Negra has a personal connection to Neruda, yep he was a friend.”
“Que interesante!” I exclaim with wide eyes and wanting to know more.
“Eh, mas o menos,” he responds with a half shrug, half smile, while staring me straight in the eye. [more or less] “Do you want my autograph?” he chuckles to himself.
We hopped on a bus back to Valparaiso where we checked out the Museo del Cielo Abierto (Open-Sky Museum) and then headed towards the beaches in Vina just as the sun crept out from behind the clouds. We began to think about where we could possibly stay Saturday night, as we were again without reservations, the beach perhaps? As luck would have it as we strolled down the beach looking for a spot I heard “Molly, Molly!” being called from somewhere. I turned around to see my friend Pancho with his girlfriend on the beach. In a matter of minutes it had been established that he was staying with his cousins in an apartment and we could stay with them for the night. We went back home with them and had a delicious barbecue!
Back in Santiago today Cori, Lisa, and I cooked a delicious Easter brunch of fresh squeezed orange juice, homemade hash browns, fried eggs, and Swedish pancakes!
And tomorrow (actually right now) is my Birthday! So now I just need to crank out 12 pages of a Spanish paper before my Birthday dinner tomorrow, whoops! I’m having a birthday party at my house on Friday with drinks and desserts, and then we’re going to go out and dance salsa after!
P.S. Does anyone know anyone that wants to hire me for any job between the dates of July 6th and August 23rd? I am compliant and I can lift at least 50 pounds.
Otherwise, Dad do you want to just hang out for awhile? haha.
P.P.S. Aunt Melanie, this also means that you will most likely be graced with my presence this summer! 🙂
“Dadme para mi vida
todas las vidas
dadme todo el dolor
de todo el mundo
yo voy a transformarlo