I believe that the adventure has finally begun.
It's like this: even if you've traveled geographically, you haven't really traveled to a place until you've caught its pulse. I think I'm finally catching the Viña/Valpo pulse. Ayer my brother Francisco taught me how to use the micro--the bus system--to get to my school from home. The micro confuses me, in that there are no route maps, and if you want to get off at a stop, you have to run to the door to make the driver pull over. Well, as we drove to and from the university, the sun was setting over the glossy blue waters, and Valpo's nightlife was beginning to bloom. Yes, the dream has finally come true: sunsets on the beach, anytime I want.
Also, I adore riding buses and going on drives with people beacuse it's a great way to get to know them. Poor Francisco: he thought he was only getting a housemate. Oh no, sir, you just got a sister and we're going to be the best of buddies. So we chatted the valpo twilight away, me in broken Spanish of course, as I stared out the windows with wide open eyes.
This morning I woke up and caught the micro to school, where I was surrounded by more gringos than I've been around since December--a tad overwhelming if I do say so myself. Then me and a couple other girls walked around Valpo before we had to head back. Imogen took us to this really cool hill, where all the buildings were painted with beautiful, beautiful murals. We sat in the shade, on a colorful mosaic bench, staring down at the rows of murals, at the sparkling ocean, and I thought to myself, yes: this is why I chose Valparaiso.
After a really wonderful nap, I spent the afternoon with my parents on the porch drinking coffee and talking. My mami is loca. I think she's in her late sixties or so, and she's this funky little woman who says whatever pops into her mind, which quite often has to do with the heat, or how I'm going to find a pololo (boyfriend) in Valparaiso very soon. (That's my favorite Chilean word so far. POLOLO! Kind of reminds me of pollo loco, not gonna lie.) At one point she told me that her favorite gift is soap, an she pulled out a ziplock bag filled to the rim with little soaps, which she would pull out over and over to take a whiff from. She said she collected them not to use them, but because she loved their smell. My Chilean dad is also really awesome. He's one of those very quiet men, who commands all the attention in the room, even though he speaks very, very softly. He also collects things. A lot of things. Like ships in glass bottles and electric train models: I could write a poem about him. He's my sage papa. So, we all ate chocolates that I brought from Infusions at home, drank coffee, and just talked for a few hours. I like that. I like that Chileans can just talk and be with eachother.
Tonight, I'll probably go to a gringo party thrown by one of the guys who's been here since last semester, so that should be fun. And Saturday, I am invited to attend a wedding! One of my friends needs a date, and who would pass up a chance to go to a Chilean boda?