", closer to the sky"...
It's said on a sticker that you can find on craft fairs all through the Valley. It could be because of the magnetic vibrations that the scientists say the place has; because of the peace and calm on the air; or because of the spirit of the people that had run away from the big cities and had adopted natural life, even building their own homes. It's special, and it must be, to be the birthplace of our Literature Nobel Prize, Gabriela Mistral, who rests on the top of a hill on Montegrande, watching the view she always loved. Her beautiful Valley.
Going out from La Serena, after passing the Airport, the landscape changes. It's green, mountain, country and fresh air. Besides the road, there are little villages as Algarrobito, Altovalsol, Las Rojas and El Molle. Most of them built in adobe, with dusty roads and old churches. It's worth to go visit and talk to the people that nicely waves at you. They are good people, simple, warm and do like tourists. Nothing better than listen to some of their stories to realize how life really is there. Touching. Charming. Makes you want to stay.
Little town In El Molle Hotel, the restaurant is a la carte, but they also have two special menus. First one includes aperitif, kneaded bread, pebre (small chopped tomato and onions, chili and herbs sauce) a soda, beer or 1/2 wine bottle, salads and main dish of salmon grille, Valley trout, or steak with potatoes, rice or creamed corn; your choice of dessert, coffee or herbal tea, and soft drink on the house, for US$25.
The other one, country style, starts with a empanada (sort of meat pie) and a glass of wine and fruits, a mixed grill main dish. Meat, chicken, pork chops with rice and salads. Really big, you can even share it. Can't be absent the kneaded bread and pebre and papayas with ice cream for dessert. Coffee and soft drink on the house, for US$22.
Going up through the same road , Vicuña, 66 km. from La Serena. With approximately. 8.000 people, founded in 1.821, has the charm of a little big city. Vicuña's Hotel, located in 101 Sargento Aldea St., has all the services tourists need. Pool, tennis courts, kids playground and three dining rooms, one of them located outside, under a wooden roof. Double rooms are US$95 with breakfast. The regular house menu costs US$13-14 and if you want only to use the pool, it's US$7 for adults and US$4 for kids.
Valley Other places that are worth visiting in Vicuña, are the "Solar de los Madariaga", located in 683 Gabriela Mistral St. Built in 1875, still has the original decoration, photographs and a wooden wool. Gabriela Mistral's Museum and her humble home besides the Museum, has some personal objects, publications, awards and a library with her master pieces. It's impressive that a woman with so humble roots, born in a world's forgotten town, became to be the great poetess that we know. You can also visit Pisco Capel's plant, taking the free tour, where they show you all the transformation process from grapes to pisco. Interesting. At the end of the tour, taste pisco or sweet wine. You can buy souvenirs, and every pisco and wine at a convenient price.