I arrived in Valparaiso with only a small scare: I looked at my clock, [in Viña del Mar, it turns out], and it advised me the time was twenty minutes AFTER I was supposed to arrive at my destination. Usually this means I have some back tracking to do, however in this instance it meant the bus was running an hour late. Excellent for me, less so for the boarding passengers.
I set out from the bus station at a brisk pace, in search of breakfast. I got worried after twenty minutes of steadily deteriorating surroundings, and finally asked a young man, “Donde est el Centro?” I figured downtown held my greatest restaurant prospects. I realized my mistake after he repeated his rejoining question for a second time: Valparaiso is big enough, and organized in such a way, that there are, in effect, different “El Centro”s. They’re not all called El Centro, actually, I believe none of them are. But each of them COULD be. Anyway, I tried to clarify, “Para desayuno?” This had no effect. “Para comeda?” He assured me, “No entiendo” and pointed me in the direction of Victoria Plaza, and the Port.
Another twenty minutes and my pace has slowed considerably, my hands and arms hating me. I am starving, and realize that just before I keel over from starvation, I am likely to pee myself first. I do a bit of zigzagging between streets, in desperation, thinking maybe I am just going up a dead street. No luck. Finally I sit down on a bench that strikes some fine balance between populated and unpopulated so that I feel safe pulling out my iPad and examining the map. (The offline map!).
I am able to locate myself, (no thanks to the GPS..), and by some miracle on the map I find the street my hostel is supposed to be on. It turns out I’ve been walking in generally the correct direction this whole time! Although, correct might be a misleading word: what I NEED is a breakfast joint and a bano; however, I’ve accepted that I am not going to find these things without help, and simply getting rid of my bags would be a huge relief. So, my new plan was to find my hostel, (reception doesn’t open until 9AM, but it’s getting pretty close to that after all the walking I’ve done), drop my bags, and beg them for a recommendation and maybe a mercy bano visit.
Walk walk walk.
Avoid the drunk man who just tried to break a glass bottle over a pigeon, then dropped his pants and underwear, thought better of actually defecating on the sidewalk, pulled up his underwear, started to pee and is now facing my direction, calling me to watch, after having noticed my approach.
Walk walk walk.
“Oh my god, that’s the street name I’m looking for! I’ll just walk to that plaza looking area to pull out my iPad and find out what number I’m looking for.”
Walk walk walk.
“What the hell? The street name’s changed.”
And then a building moves out of the way and the angel’s bells chime.
First two hours of the morning: complete.
In fact, that was pretty much my excitement for the day. It’s overcast here, with a forecast of sun for the next few days. Out of concern for my persistent illness, I decided to take it extremely easy today, and so have done nothing of note all day. Stay tuned for greater excitement in the morrow.