This was only the third occasion since January 2010 that I took to the road on wheels. After going through the somewhat byzantine process of hiring a car in La Serena we took to the hills with a somewhat schizophrenic sat nav system that didn’t seem to know where it was supposed to know to go to. I turned it off after a few hours when I found out the road system was pretty rudimentary and well sign posted and if we wanted to get a contrary opinion on where to go we could always turn it on for a few minutes.
We headed towards our destination, a little sleepy town called Vicuna. From here we would base ourselves for the next few days whilst we explored the Elqui Valley. We stayed in the Hostal Aldea de Elqui on Avenue Gabriel Mistral which is an old adobe building not far from the main square, the Playa de Armes, every Chilean town has one. The hostal is a very relaxed affair run by an Argentine called Ricardo who took a shine to me, in a brotherly fashion. Big airy rooms with comfy beds dressed in traditional linens, an open kitchen and a pool out the back. A place that brings out the best in its guests as well, we had great fun here.We had a great session with Ricardo’s family and friends and some guests from Canada and France. A topic of conversation that cropped up was the one of mother in laws. It’s so funny that no matter where you come from they always get treated the same way. Ricardo was telling us his is called La Brocha, the witch, we got a good laugh out of that, especially when his wife agreed.