The bus to Valparaiso rode low under a lazy, hazy smog filled sky. Barren hills led down to single file football fields, a factory of fantasy, making use of the barren, wasted land that led on and on for miles on end.
Valparaiso, a port town, had a reputation for tattooed sailors, the kind that make you hide behind the sheets while watching Captain Hook movies - only more menacing.
On arrival, I quickly departed the central city bus terminal and made my way towards the hostel, stopping only for a Completo, that most cheap of Chilean delicacies.
The hills of Valparaiso, tumbling down toward the city centre, comprised multi-coloured houses, decayed and decaying but still strong and defiant. Steep streets, some glorified in graffiti, others leading to vantage points, allowed a view of the surrounding scenery, cobbled-stoned and cobbled together.
Funicular railways, dotted the hills, leading up from the lowlands to the quiet of the suburbs. They were a symbol of the city; competing for that particular honour with my Chilean favourite, the Completo. It was not a contest.
I took a modern metro train to the nearby city of Vina del Mar, a city with the nomenclature ‘Cuidad Jardin’ or for those with no talent in speaking Chilean, Garden City. Vina del Mar was more modern and upmarket that Valparaiso, akin to the rich man having wealth and the poor man character. Nonetheless walking around the gardens and the beach was still free, which is a plus in any language.
I had enough spare cash to consume another Completo. This was despite feeling crook; like a lover who consumes the passion of one who is not loved back. The signs were here, there and everywhere but they were not in neon. The lingerie of desire persisted, there was no turning back.
Unless of course you take a modern metro train back to Valparaiso heading in the opposite direction to where you want to go.