There's an epidemic going on at our school. More than seven students in my class are out sick, me included. One class had FIFTEEN kids absent yesterday.

It's a virus that first makes you feel cold, then tired, then your stomach shouts in pain before your head brings you down to bed, where I have been for two days.

Because of being sick, I've missed two tests. That's a good thing because I wasn't ready for them anyway. I also haven't felt like writing RatSoap until now.

The reason I wasn't ready for the tests was that last Monday (May 21st) was a holiday, and to enjoy the long weekend, we went to the coast with my aunt.

Every year, Chileans remember the Naval Battle of Iquique on May 21st.

The battle took place in northern Chile in 1879 between Chile and Peru. You can learn more about it here

Our trip to the coast meant seeing the Pacific Ocean one more time. We had not seen it since we arrived in Valparaíso last December.

This time we went to Viña del Mar, which is right next to Valparaíso. We rode a bus there from Santiago.

It took only about 90 minutes to get to downtown Viña. One of the first things we saw there was a line of "Victorias," which are horse-drawn carriages that take visitors on a tour of the city center.

Instead of hiring a Victoria, we and our backpacks walked nineteen blocks to the hotel.

After we checked in, we did more walking along the beach. It was beautiful and the weather was great. Because it was a long weekend, there were many tourists and artists and people selling all kinds of items---purses, bags, earrings, jewelry, scarves, paintings, etc.

There were also games...

And too many buildings...

On a tall old pier, we saw several men crabbing, using the same techniques as crabbers in the Virginia.

That first night we stayed out until sunset.

Dad says that right when the sun goes under the horizon you can often see, for just a second, a green light called the Green Ray. But we couldn't see it this time because there were a few clouds right on the horizon.


The next morning we took the metro to Valparaíso, which is the most important port in Chile.

When we arrived there in December, we didn't have a chance to see anything because we traveled right away to Santiago. This time, we saw a lot.

The city is very hilly and most of the houses and buildings are high up.

To get to them, you can walk or take a funicular. There are many funiculars in Valparaíso, and they all seem very rundown. The one we took creaked all the way up and felt like it was falling apart.

There are many interesting things in this port city. One of them is all the cats and dogs everywhere. They seem to really enjoy life, sleeping all day wherever they want. Here are three at a plaza in front of an Army building:

Many houses have pets on the windowsills, benches, and yards.

Another interesting thing is the way houses and buildings are painted---with bright colors (like fruit) or murals.

Many of the city's narrow streets or sidewalks feel like balconies high up on the hill. Along them, there are restaurants and more vendors. This vendor was not selling much so he started doing handstands to pass the time:

Mom bought a pair of earrings from him. He makes all the jewelry himself, out of recycled material. For example, the copper wire on Mom's earrings came from an old TV set:

Back in Viña that evening, we walked and walked and saw a couple of castles...

...a casino...

...a flower clock ("reloj de flores")...

...and big rocks on the beach that RJE said looked like "poop from giant horses."

The day we left Viña I found a Euro in the closet of our hotel room. The Euro is the currency used in many countries in Europe, and it's equal to about $1.30 dollars.

The coin says "España" on it, so it must have been left by a guest from Spain who stayed earlier in our hotel room.

After all that fun in Viña, we wish we'd picked the coast to spend our year in Chile---instead of Santiago.


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The RatSoap™ Project is a work in progress, 2006-2007
Copyright © 2006-2007 by Sun on Earth Books




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