Casa Roberto and Paula. We managed to link up with Roberto by phone shortly after my last post. On Saturday morning he, along with his wife Paula, picked us up and drove us over to Valparaiso - just over 100kms away from Santiago, and on the coast facing the Pacific Ocean. The drive was beautiful, the roads excellent and the day turned out to be sunny and crisp. We stayed at a chalet belonging to Roberto´s sister - the views of the busy town, beach, sea and orange sunset from her patio were stunning.
Sunday we investigated the town and neighbouring Vina del Mar, sampling some local seafood and beer along the way. The beach was decidely colder than Natal. Most Chileans were fully clothed, huddled together, lying flat on the sand in order to duck out of the way of the stiniging breeze. Some foolhardy sorts, (they reminded me of my Dad) were in their swimming costumes taking a dip in the icey Pacific waves. In actual fact, swimming and surfing on most beaches on this stretch was not permitted. The beach drops away into deep and swift ocean currents and it´s considered very unsafe. In the evening, we met up with another of Roberto´s sisters and her family and their gorgeous house just around the corner for some wine and chit chat.
Apart from these small excursions we have mostly been sleeping which can´t be bad. 1 year and 4 months around young Nelson has left a sleep deficit which we are only now managing to replenish. However, we have had ample time to chat to Roberto and Paula (he speaks English, she Spanish but understands Portuguese well). I did my MA with Roberto in York and he is a quiet and thoughtful fellow whose insights into Chilean and South American society, culture and politics has given me enough material for 6 months worth of blog... watch this space for more from him.
We are back in Santiago now at their apartment. Tomorrow morning early, a taxi will take us to the airport for our return flights.