Valle del Elqui

Valle del Elqui

Valle del Elqui

We arrived in La Serena early in the morning after a 7 hour bus ride. The streets were almost entirely deserted, on account of most people not waking until 9 am or even later. Having the run of the city to ourselves was nice, though on the other hand we couldn’t find a single place to eat or even get a drink. Even coffee shops don’t open until 10 am! This was a bit of a shock when I’m used to having 24 hour coffee chains available to serve me whenever I need my caffeine fix. We had originally planned to stay a single day, mostly hanging out at the beach, but we ended spending that night there as well. First order of business before lazing around on the beach was to explore the city. This is Chile’s second oldest city, and is littered with old buildings. As much of a history lover as I am, I thought the city’s style was great.

My other main goal while here was to visit my friend Isabella. Isabella and I had shared a hospital room in Santiago many years ago and became great friends. She was such a warm and wonderful person, and very encouraging to me during my plight. I was very down on myself at the time, but she did everything humanly possible to lift my spirits. Her family too were very supportive of both of us every time they visited, which was nearly every day. Her son Jose in particular visited her every day, and we both looked forward to it. I had only planned to visit her for a few hours, but ended up staying most of the day, which is why I missed my bus out of town that night. I got to meet her other, younger son while I was there as well. He’s now a lawyer, and was in school at the time of our hospital stay and unable to visit. Like his mother and brother, he has a wonderful personality and great sense of humor. Isabella cooked up a feast in preparation for my visit, including homemade cookies, sandwiches, and other goodies. We slowly nibbled on the food, not because it was bad, but because we wanted it to last as long as possible and extend the visit.

Rio Magico

Rio Magico

By the time we left it was late at night, and we went out in search of a place to eat dinner, and after that a hostel to spend the evening at. We didn’t find a pizza place like we were hoping for, but we did enjoy some hamburgers and fries to go with our beers. The hostels were a little pricey and booked fairly solid, as it was Halloween time and there seemed to be planet of visitors to the town. They celebrate Halloween here just as we do, with children going trick or treating door to door, and adults enjoying themselves at bars or gatherings dressed up as well. The costumes are generally lower key and more creative than what you see in America. I had brought some semblance of a costume with me and put it on later that evening. It was a ninja outfit, and I thought I looked pretty cool in it.

With no real options of where to stay, I called Isabella back up, not really wanting to inconvenience her, but desperate to either find a good hostel, or an alternate way of getting to Valle de Elqui tonight. She instead insisted that we stay with them at her place that night. Their house is not very big, and I hated imposing like that, but we had a great time with, feeling very much like a slumber party. We did insist on sleeping on the floor ourselves, as I could never take someone else’s bed and make them sleep on the floor. Besides I’m so used to sleeping on the floor that isn’t an issue for me in any way.

Pisco Elqui

Pisco Elqui

We parted ways the next morning, heading to the bus depot to get the earliest bus to Valle de Elqui.
This area is not well known, but is said to have a high concentration of energy, and many UFO sightings have been reported in this area over the years. We thought it would be a fun and unusual place to check out. The bus ride took about 3 hours, much longer than the actual distance would suggest, as the bus stopped very frequently to pick up and drop off people. It was like a public transportation bus until it finally hit the outskirts of town, at which point we started to make better time.

We took a short tour of the area which was pretty cool, then headed down into the valley to hitchhike, hoping to get picked up by someone along the way. We ended up getting a ride right through the valley nearly to the border of Argentina. The journey from one end of Chile to the other in this region was only about 4 hours, as we started near the coast of the Pacific Ocean and ended near to Argentina in the east. We spent this night in a tiny town, where we got a great view of the stars, and saw several shooting stars. Too often in the city it’s next to impossible to see the stars, which is terrible. It really is a humbling experience staring up at them and trying to take in the vastness of our universe.

This was the end of our trip in Chile. We plan to come back at some point in the future, as I would love to camp at El Rio Magico someday. From this small town we would cross into Argentina and check it out for a few days, then return home for another year.