I visited the mausoleum of Gabriella Mistral in the tiny mountain town of Monte Grande yesterday. It was a hot day even in the oasis in the valley bottom where the town is located. You are saved from the heat by the breeze that always seems to be blowing either up or down the deep valley. I spent half a day sitting in the town plaza, which is where you will feel the heartbeat of these villages. Old cowboys wander by dressed very gentlemanly and wearing their wide brimmed hats. There is a sweet, gallant pride in their demeanor, they probably worked these hills either mining or in agriculture since they were young boys and they are greeted with respect and joy by every local they pass. This is a small plaza and as always one side is fronted by an old, old church with a tall wooden steeple that seems like it could tumble over at any time and is a home to pigeons and a landmark from just about anywhere in the valley. I know this because I always walk as far as I can up and down these valleys as possible. There is also usually a cafe or two on another side of the plaza and the Main Street fronting it on another. There are artisans situated in the shade beneath plentiful, wide shade trees and benches in a circle around a babbling fountain and locals and visitors come and go, stopping to enjoy this special place.
I’m on my way south to Santiago, then a 9 hour bus ride to the northern edges of Patagonia. I’ll post pictures when I have WiFi access. You are all beautiful, thanks for following me on this journey.