Sunday, April 12, 2009

Scrolling Walls in Valparaíso

Walls attacked by aerosol cans help hold up this antique city's slumping buildings.

Valparaiso is a city of literal street art. Its bohemian aura seeps out of the cracked sidewalks and pours out of the cheap beer being had in dive bars; all within arms reach of the hostel. Perhaps it was the dreary clouds that hung over our heads or the dilapidated, yet lively roofs keeping our heads dry, but the town had a cold, artistic feel. As we uncharacteristically smoked our cigarettes and characteristically drank our spirits, other travelers shared stories of their voyages thus far. Gathered in the dark kitchen, or firmly sunk into the worn couches, smoke puffing from our mouths, suggestions of where to stay or food to try or philosophies to follow flowed easily back and forth. Our clothes showed our stains and wear.

During the day, with our head still swimming in alcohol and our lungs still inflated with smoke, we seemed to stand still as the walls of paint rolled by. At the end of each canvas strip sat a run down shop selling electronics or sweets, and then another canvas strip started.

The bottom of the nearby mountain found its way to us, still standing or sitting in the park still. As an elevator car was pulled a gradual angle, the hill scrolled down past us, our feet firm on ground, and then the stairs, free of charge. Halfway up, on the left hand side, sat two huge hummingbirds. The paint fluttered back and forth alive with color and heart, with the help of an over reactive brain still feeling the fumes of a long night.

At night, we reconvened at the hostel. Crowded in the living room, kitchen, or building center drinking Escudo (delicious and cheap Chilean beer) or other cheap drinks talking about our adventures new and old; helping each other in the art of discovery. We moved only to find a darker, louder spot behind some neon lights with mumbled Chilean Spanish in the background. We waxed philosophical about things we know we will never change.

After our fill of beer and wine and thoughts, we awoke feeling heavier with booze and enlightenment. The same paint remained unchanged on the walls: bright and vibrant against another gloomier day in Valparaiso.


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  2. hey it was great to hear from you guys last night! You know we miss you. I'm not going to hassle you to hurry back, just be safe.