by Allan Soutaris in Cool Travel on Monday 21 December 2009

I’m writing this sitting in the driveway of one of the most magnificent hostels and neighbourhoods I’ve had the privilege to visit. Seagulls fly overhead, and in front of me, to the end of the driveway, lies a view of the Pacific Ocean. The sun reflects against the peeling white paint of the hostel and neighbouring garage. It radiates heat but not enough for me to feel uncomfortable.

A steep sharp cliff sits on this side of the road. It shadows a busy road and light rail that runs between here and Vina del Mar, another beautiful beachside town. If I listen hard enough, I can hear waves crash against the shore and trains slowing at the nearby platform. The sky is a perfect bright blue.

To the hills behind streets twist and bend around brightly coloured houses. Elderly men collect shopping from small shop fronts and slowly return home in the heat to prepare tasty local dishes. The kitchen fills with grandchildren and flustered parents in anticipation of the upcoming feast. His wife, moistened handkerchief in hand, hugs and snatches at her grandchildren running through the small brightly lit kitchen. A football lies just outside the kitchen door. Frustrated mothers yell at their boys to move it across the courtyard — she doesn’t want Grandma falling over them.

The courtyard, while small, houses a small table and four chairs. It is saturated with the smell of cooking. The smell overflows into the street and down towards the sea. It is just a wonderful, wonderful place. [photos by Allan and Roger Soutaris]
Valparaiso, Chile