Monday, May 14, 2012

Going after the Pisco, the trip to Valle de Elqui

After tasting the Pisco leche (milk taste of Pisco) in Melipilla, we wanted to see the production of Pisco and the only place doing that in Chile is the Valle de Elqui. After overnight bus from Santiago we reached La Serena at 5am in the morning. We were lucky to catch the 6:30am mini-bus going to Pisco Equi, the touristy town of Pisco in the Valle de Elqui.

Along the valley up we saw many fields in the valley and both hillsides, at first we did not know what they were for. Once got off the bus we continued going up. Maria found some "tuna" (some fruit of cactus) and risked her skin being stung.

Rest in a close restaurant to enjoy our take-over bread baked in Diego’s oven. Then we separated, Maria walking on the road back to the town and I walking at the bottom of the valley down to the town, with assumption that the latter works. We kept contact with walkie-talkie along the way.

On my part it was not easy, I had to climb some fence and get some attentions of the guarding dogs. The fields were closely packed together with no track in between, showing that there was not much interaction between nearby fields. With jumping and climbing, even climbing to the rock of the opposite side of the valley, I finally reached a private campsite and got out of it to the town main road, meeting my wife again.

After some ice-cream (certainly with Pisco sour taste), we paid for a tour of a famous Pisco vineyard “Mistral”. We finally knew that the Pisco was actually a mistaken product of wine making. When the Spanish colonist come to grow grapes for red wine, they found the product so sweet, because of the dry weather and long sunlight period in the valley. Not many distillation was done and the sweet wine of Pisco was invented. The guide with limited English showed us the setup and historic material in the production. The tour ended with a film show. Then we tasted two full glasses of Pisco, one with 40% purity, and another stored in burnt oak barrel. There was also a free drink of Pisco sour, and the glass was a gift as souvenir.

My wife was of course drunk again on the way back to La Serena, kept eating the Pisco grape. Thinking about bus from Antofagasta direct to Bolivia, we took the bus to the Pacific ocean port of Chile.

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