Our hostel in Valparaiso was a beautiful, 110-year-old, two-storey, end-of-terrace house, which had seen better days, with misshapen sash windows, and the odd ominous crack. The establishment was run by an elderly couple, who appeared from the back every time we opened the front door, even though we had our own key. It was going to take armed assailants with machetes to steal our stuff from this place; for which we were most grateful. We were the only guests, so had the biggest, best room - at the front, with wonderful views across the port, where we could watch Chile's navy (or some of it anyway) doing whatever navies do in port.
We had at least four earthquakes the evening/night we were there and although we assured our anxious hosts that being from New Zealand we were unfazed by tremors, they were the biggest shakes we Auckland softies had ever felt.
They obviously weren't the city's first recent shakes, however; walking around the during the day we had seen broken glass on the odd pavement from shattered windows above. But overall the city seemed to have emerged relatively unscathed - a slight surprise considering the precarious way buildings (not all of them in a great state of repair) perch on the side of the precipice-like hills. Our taxi driver to the bus station the following morning assured us that Valparaiso buildings are strong, though residents have been warned to prepare for a big shake coming, he said. It must be a very scary thought for locals, and the selfish part of me was glad to be getting on a plane to Peru.