We have been to two bars here. And back several times. Because they both have what makes a bar: regulars. Bar Ingles is marvellous for the generosity of the free pour and its complete lack of Englishness – red phone box toilet doors and Diana snaps aside.
Two regulars we met playing dice as we left (dice thrown by the barman) revealed that they are there from 2pm every day, run their own industrial engineering company, that Valparaiso survived as long as it did (this explained with leather dice cups) because the Panama Canal couldn’t handle the big container ships, and that we shouldn’t worry about going to Buenos Aires on Saturday because Argentina is very rich.
Neptuno is our favourite. Even though it’s a moment from Plaza Sotomayor, tourists don’t usually make it that far. The revelation that I write telenovelas created a stir.
Kylie Minogue sounds odd in Chilean Spanish, though the music’s the same played from an iPhone. Regulars are the chatty barmaid Joselyn (whose 22-year-old son – we couldn’t believe it, her age or his size – turned up for a beer and told us about his job at La Sebastiana and after hours love of hard rock karaoke). And fur-shouldered Madame Sousatska (Paul’s name) who drinks a delicate beer and has worked in the industry too. At the corner table the guys play chess. If you find Neptuno, my autograph is now behind the bar.