It’s not every day you arrive some place new and someone offers you a Pisco Sour. While I’m not prone to riding pink elephants – well I am despite my time in Australia – at present this weakness is heightened after my detox months at home. I never joined AA and it wasn’t self-inflicted as I’m not one of those hypocrites that list quitting alcohol on a new-year resolutions list. I am guilty, however, of spending quality time with my grandmother who was brought up in the Franco era – Spain – and views alcohol as the work of the Devil. Yes, I did try to convert her. Yes, I made her the friendliest alcoholic drink ever a.k.a. Mulled Wine. No, I ended up in a confessional – who knew the rosary is such a versatile object?
At this point you might be wondering why I, a grown woman, decided to own up to such an embarrassing fact and allow my grannie to make me go cold turkey… Honestly, I’m wondering that myself… Where was I? Oh yeah, pisco sour in Los Molles. That didn’t go down well.
The person who made that cocktail is my mother’s friend; let’s call him Jack Sparrow. Adventurous, long-haired sixty-year-old – talk about oxymoron – Captain Sparrow is an extremely welcoming, affable and hilarious Chilean who couldn’t wait two minutes to crack a joke. He even has the picture of a pirate on his door. How cool is that? While we were having snacks and pisco sours, he told me he filmed a documentary for NatGeo; obviously impressed, I was surprised when he showed me a homemade video on his phone where he chases a rebellious mare through the fields and ends up falling off his horse; rather than staying put to recover, he sprang up to his feet and resumed chasing the mare. Hilarious! And no, you won’t find it on NatGeo, Chileans just like to play jokes on people.
That is why I was blissfully unaware when the conversation shifted into politics. Even though I’m not one to voice out my political views, which remain a mystery even to family and often to myself, there’s one opinion I never conceal and that is I hate Chávez; down with Maduro. The exception to that rule, however, is when I find myself under the influence of some substance and while I only had one pisco sour, that drink is lethal: one pisco sour, you are tipsy; two drinks, you are dancing on a table; four, you wake up the next day in jail. That is why instead of smiling and nodding like I usually do when someone talks about politics, I became your regular Jeremy Kyle. That night taught me two things: first, given the country’s recent History, Chileans have a strong political opinion and discussions may get pretty heated up so pretend you’re British FFS and talk about the weather; secondly, never underestimate the power of a pisco sour.
You might be wondering why I told you this story and yes, it’s just an excuse to talk about pisco sour, my first alcoholic drink in four months.
Now that we’ve got the alcohol out of the way, perhaps we can talk about the natural beauty of Los Molles. Located two hours and a half away from the capital Santiago, this touristic fishing village offers tourists a large range of activities, ranging from relaxing on the main sandy beach to scuba diving its lapis lazuli waters and exploring the national park along its dramatic cliffs.
When my mother asked her friend to give me a tour prior to consulting me, I became increasingly annoyed as I’m old enough not to need a babysitter. What I didn’t know then was how grateful I’d be to have a local as my guide. His name is Marcos and he’s absolutely brilliant (read that in a British accent). I followed him through a path that lined beautiful country houses, over a fence (yes, I climbed it, no injuries) and all the way through Puquén Park, a wonderful nature preserve with walking trails, unique vegetation and a diverse fauna.
As you walk through the coastline, you can stop at the natural balconies from where you can admire impressive cliffs that stand defiant up against the Pacific Ocean, and observe tiny islets, home to a large number of noisy sea lions. Marcos had his heart set that I should experience everything to the fullest so he would guide me to the edge of every terrace, even if it was off the walking trail. I followed him every time except for once where he stood on a rock on the edge of a precipice. The rock was clearly not attached to anything and barely floated over the other rocks on a 60-degree angle. If that rock loosened up, it’d go straight to the ocean.
Marcos stood on it and encouraged me to follow in his steps. “It doesn’t look stable,” I said which prompted him to wiggle and jiggle the rock from side to side. “Yes, it is,” he said. “Not even the last earthquake could move this rock.” I snorted. “What if it’s been there since the last earthquake?” I asked. He tilted his head and gave up.
Apart from dramatic cliffs, Parque Puquén is famous for its microclimate which allows the area to have, biologically speaking, unique flora and fauna in the region. With its semi-desert ecosystem, the park stands out for being one of the five Mediterranean ecosystems in the world, home to several species of wild flora in the midst of impressive cliffs, natural pools and geological formations.
We ended our tour by visiting the natural ocean geyser El Puquén, one of the major attractions of the park. Depending on the weather, the water vapour can reach a considerable height and the views of the area from there are enthralling.
In the afternoon, I wandered around the beach, had some artisanal ice cream and enjoyed the sunset over the water. Twilight over the beach creates a dreamworld where different tones of blue and silver paint the water, while a large range of pink to red dyes the mountains that reflect on the water that barely washes the sand. On the next day, I walked towards the right side of the beach, along the rocky coastline. When you reach the end, there is a rocky way you can follow from where you can watch how the ocean plays and moulds the rocks. To the right side, a large wave hits and floods a platform of the cliff. Once the water hits the wall and flows back to the ocean, it creates the illusion of ephemeral waterfall, one of the magical tricks of Los Molles.