The Vice-Principal from the girls' school made a very generous offer to show us around some of the outskirts of Valparaiso. We saw places that we wouldn’t have found on our own and we’re grateful to have found such kind friends here.
Our first point of call was the top of our cerro, Cerro Alegre. We didn’t realise how high up Alegre went and there is a dramatic change in the style of housing at the top. As mentioned previously, the further up the hill the lower the income. The view is magnificent and you can see all of Valparaiso and along the coast line. The buses run to the top of the cerro and I imagine that it wouldn’t take longer than fifteen minutes from the plan to the summit.
We enjoyed a leisurely wander along Avenida Altamirano, under the shadow of Playa Ancha University, one of the larger universities in the city. This is when the surprise of the day happened. We hopped back into our friend’s car and drove fifteen minutes inland to a man-made lake called Tranque La Luz, Lake of the Light. It is surrounded by eucalyptus trees. Although we felt right at home with the familiar aroma of gum leaves crunching under our feet, the eucalyptus is a pest species here.
We would never imagined that such a contrast to Valpo existed so close by. On the way to the lake is a satellite city where it’s a real toon-town. Houses that have been dropped out of the Casa-matic 2000 machine mirror each other street after street. You wouldn’t want to try and find your house after too many Pisco Sours. Curauma is purpose built town with many of its inhabitants commuting daily to Valparaiso for work and study. It is only fifteen minutes away and buses run from the city to the ‘burbs on a regular basis.
Our friend had brought bread with her to feed to the enormous carp that live in the lake. The fish bubble around every morsel of food and become air breathers for a split second as they slide over the top of each other. The shore line of the lake is a fish reserve and if you want to do any fishing you have to go further out.