Chile's Valley of the...Sweaters!?
You know, blogs should come equipped with the option to play background music when you click a post. Because I know you know which music I'd be playing right now. It'd be the creepy, suspenseful music.And then you'd all be disappointed, actually, because this post is the opposite of creepy and suspenseful, despite what I tried to do with the title there. So basically, carry on blogs. As you were. I'll just be over here in a corner gibber-gabbering to myself...
Well, it's Throwback Thursday you guys, and this time we're taking it back all the way to...2010. OR the year Chile was hit with an 8.8 magnitude earthquake, little Haiti was nearly flattened by an earthquake, and Justin Bieber was dominating world charts. You're with me now, amIright?
The Location: Valle Hermoso, Chile, South America
That's right, I lived in Chile (Valparaiso and ViC1a del Mar, to be exact)B for a semester when I was in University but I was not blogging at the time. Since that's an obvious travesty and I have a TON to say,B read on (and check back) for more of my experiencesB in this gorgeous country. Anyyyyways, Sweater Valley. Less horrible than it seems if you, like me, are saying it in the creepy voice that seems obvious and envisioning a dark and sinister tale. This tale is, in fact, the opposite of dark and sinister. Are you surprised!? Are you surprised I am not writing a horror story about sweaters!? Er, I've almost talked myself out of writing this post because it's starting to seem TOO silly, if that's even possible. (IT IS. IT IS POSSIBLE). I have now chatted about exactly three things and none of them have much to do with the point of this post at all. Are any of you even still reading??? Should I continue??? For the sake of those actually travelling to Chile,B I AM going to continue. Take that, internet friends. I arrived in ValparaC-so, Chile at the tail end of Canadian summer, which anyone who knows anything at all, knows is the tail end of fall and the start of winter in good ol' South America. But did that mean I had packed accordingly? Clearly not. Because even those among us who consider ourselvesB relatively competent geographically sometimes forget what ten degrees with a wind chill off the ocean can feel like. Which is to say, cold. South AmericaB gets COLD you guys. I know this isn't news to some of you. I wish to heaven it had not been news to me. What was I thinking!? *shakes fist at younger self* So after freezing my uninformed and silly butt off for a few weeks, I started asking friends where to get the cute woolly sweaters I was seeing them walk around town in, looking adorable.B They were not dying of frostbite despite a total lack of indoor heating. They were surviving, nay, dare I even say - thriving! Turns out this little section of Chile has a wonderful, a cosy, a woolly, a magically snuggly little secret.
Also known as (well actually, called in real life and not in my head) Valle Hermoso (Beautiful Valley). Slightly less ring to that than Sweater Valley in my opinion, but unfortunately they did not call and ask me before naming the town. *sniff* So I gathered up a few friends, other freezing foreigners (or FFs), and off we went. It was simple enough to get there. We hopped a local bus from the station in downtown Valparaiso and then had to grab a short taxi ride and we were there in about 3 hours. If I could remember where we got off the bus I would tell you. There are vague recollections of a dirt road. I highly suggest you ask someone. Chileans are very knowledgeable about these things and will generally not lead you astray. The entire main street is a line of shops along both sides, and all they sell, all you see for a mile, is sweaters. No lie. Ok small lie. They also sell some toques, scarves, and mittens! Most handmade (some not), but every imaginable colour and many different styles (though very few that could be considered B(fashionableB( in the strictest sense. But I'm a big belieBer that style is really what you make itB (IB4m all about making connections to the time and place for you guys)). And most of them were being made right before our eyes - like this guy making ponchos on the old school loom - as well as plenty of women standing in doorways knitting their wares. And the best part?B Nothing was over $20.B Yay for being warm! It perhaps seems less exciting than it should due to my overall lack of photographic proof (what were you thinking, younger me!?). But I recall a day of laughter and general enjoyment in a tucked away valley. Could have been the company (they were pretty fun FFs) but I think it was also the joy of discovering a little corner of Chile that's less travelled and getting some sweet swag at the end of it all.
Should I Go?
Now, if unlike me, you arrive to Chile and ARE well prepared, should you bother heading to this strange little town? In my opinion, yes, yes you should. It's such a cool look into aB traditional part of Chile, it's interesting just to see all the sweaters hanging from every door, window, and rack, and it's a great way to support the local economy and people.B Plus the bus ride there will offer you great views of sand dunes, lush greenery, and scenic farm life in Chile. Get out there and explore! Chile has so much more to offer than just it's big cities or that showy Patagonia. ;-) And stay tuned for more on this gorgeous country (and I promise, I have better photos of my other adventures there!).