In this next baby-sized chapter of El Huevito’s adventures, we decided it best to head north, towards the sun and the warmth – given how rain douses family holiday-making with a perfunctory sizzle. So away from the damp and humid Lake District we fled, to Valparaíso on the Chilean coast, via a twelve hour bus ride that required a) stubborn haggling to secure passage for our booty of bikes and trailer and b) the challenge of coaxing Sage through the night drive without one of his infamous meltdowns – I might have mentioned before that this boy has lungs.
Thankfully, animals and objects all survived, largely unscathed, to be summonly ejected into Valparaíso’s bus station in the early hours. It was our first experience of urban riding, South American-style. Where we’d meandered through a quiet, traffic free Lake District, here we tussled with cars, dodged kamikaze buses, and hopped jagged curbs, the trailer dancing graciously but unintentionally on one wheel at times.
Our first stop was La Bicyclette, a delightful guesthouse adorned with pictures of bicycles and nothing else, and run by the ever smiling Giles – a Frenchman of course. Giles bobbed about enthusiastically around us, helping carry our gear, engaging with Sage, and offering advice. “No problem!” he soothed again and again, showing us to a bright and spacious room, its windows opening out onto a colourful street scene below.
And given the San-Franciscan-like contours of the Valparaíso, bundled together in the tightest of weaves, it seemed prudent to place bikes to one side to explore this lopsided city. Instead, we enjoyed a couple of days roaming its streets by foot, hiking up its vertical stairwells, and then watching as Sage ran, wobbly-legged, down the steepest of its inclines. Emitting peels of baby laughter, he gathered a drunken-like momentum with each step, tottering ever so close to the tall kerbs that matched him for height. We chased after him with nervous exhaustion, until we could take it no longer and scooped him up in our arms.
A mishmash of architectural styles, Valparaíso is a city I visited on my first visit to South America, back in 1993. In the ensuing, post dictatorship years, it’s become a city graced with a thriving, bohemian art scene, via the murals that abound: figures, shapes, words, symbols and messages harking back to the past, and pointing towards issues of the future.
The bundle of energy that he is, Sage likes to be walking most of the time. But when his little legs tire, we crack out the Boba Air. Nancy’s worked her way through all the baby carriers on the market, and for travelling, this one’s her baby carrier of choice. It’s light, packs down super small, and it’s comfy enough for short distance roaming: perfect for hands-free, walkabouts on a bike tour.
If you would like to keep up with where I am between blog entries, I try and keep my While Out Riding Facebook page regularly updated – along with posting extra photos and gear ponderings. You can find it here, where plenty more El Huevito photos are to be found.