Sometimes when I drift off to sleep after a hard day, I dream of living in Valparaiso.

I first encountered this city at the end of 2014 when I was here at the tail end of 5 months in South America. I fell in love with it immediately. A wide view of the ocean and street art everywhere make Valpo a shining example of both natural beauty and the human artistic capacity.

I think for me, Valparaiso holds a special place in my heart for personal reasons, as well. When I was here the first time–when I first met her–I was on the edge of transition in my life. I was inching toward the end of a marriage and, therefore, toward a huge upset in my story about myself. Something about the sprawling neighborhoods you will certainly get lost in and the way the buildings in the city sit precariously wedged into hillsides that might completely crumble in an earthquake make you feel like you should really live for the moment. Really forget about planning to get somewhere on time. Ignore consequences for making bad decisions. Quit worrying about whether or not your hair looks right or you’re successful at your job or you have enough retirement socked away.

This city screams for you to be on the ball RIGHT NOW. Every corner you turn, you’ll find a mural or a sculpture made of found objects. Or you’ll see a house on stilts tilted toward the bay, but painted brilliant blues and trimmed in pumpkin orange. In one afternoon you will walk up more stairs than you could have imagined walking in a life-time, and when you go to bed sore, you’ll remember you’re alive.

I came back to Valpo a few years ago (before the pandemic) right as my divorce was final. I ran a marathon in Vina del Mar, just north of here, and then came to spend some time in Valparaiso just to remind myself to engage my own creativity as I faced the ongoing remaking of my life. And since that return visit, I’ve dreamed of coming back.

So here I am. And I’ve come with friends this time, hoping they will find the charm and inspiration here that keeps me going even in my imagination when I’m not here.

I’ll post pics in the next few days. Stay tuned (hi, HB buddies!!). Here are a few just to get you started.

Mural in my hotel room.
View from my room.

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