Settled into our apartment in Santiago, so first thing we do is leave the next day to go to Valparaiso. Bus and mass transit here is very efficient and affordable. We walk outside our apartment building to the Metro station four blocks away. Quick 10 stations ride on a very clean, modern subway to a major bus terminal. Purchase bus ticket and depart in 10 minutes for 90 minute ride (about 60 miles) in a clean, comfortable bus to Valparaiso via a major highway. we use micro buses in Valpo to navigate the city - that story to follow. While in Valpo we learn there is a new Metro train to Viña del Mar, about 5 miles away. Great ride along the coast in an ultra modern train/subway. Reverse sequence back to Santiago. Total cost for day`s travel was about $40us for both of us !! I can`t quite figure out how Chile, `ranked` 37th in the world can accomplish this, yet the U.S. of A. (`ranked` 1) struggles with the concept ?! Oh well, and now for the micro bus ride in Valpo.
First I should set the background. While San Francisco and Cincinatti are considered the cities of Seven Hills, Valpo is that of 47 ! This bay city is a semicircle that rises from waterfront to steep hills along the whole arc of the bay, AND the terrain of the hills is of many folds, as in drapes partially opened, AND crunched up.
Lidia and I board an early 1960`s Mercedes bus that holds about 30 seated. Driver has 3 and half foot long stick shift well in hand. As I grapple with change purse to pay fare. Mario Andretti, the bus driver`s alter-ego, launches the vehicle agressively downhill and around the tight corner. Needless to say my primary concern is not paying the fare, but preventing myself being catapulted into some rearward location ! Rapidly, I find myself clinging with one hand onto a roller coaster piloted by a jet fighter pilot wannabe. There are hairpin turns, banked corners, lurches up, down, back and forth; in fact there may well have been a couple 360 degree loop de loops thrown (pardon the pun) in there, though I don`t quite recall. I managed to pass this G force equalibrium test, and pay the driver, AND pocket my change while retaining a bit of decorum. As I turned around to take my seat, the faces of the other passengers were beaming with humor, relief, and appreciation of my survival skills. And to think they watched a show unfold live on center aisle, and were transported to their destination, for the princely sum of 50 cents !
Ciao for now