After weeks of ambivalent talk, hours of scouring TripAdvisor and a final day of real, pen-to-paper planning, Collyn, Johnny and I set off last Monday in a bus heading south. We weren’t certain of our itinerary; we knew we wanted to hike near the Siete Tazas waterfalls and maybe head to the Panguipulli nature reserve, but we decided to plan minimally, and so we boarded a bus to the city of Curicó, five hours from Viña. Miles of dusty road later, we rode twenty more minutes from Curicó to the neighboring town of Molina. There began a whirlwind week of adventures & unexpected friendships with strangers.
We found our hostel after discovering that the one Johnny knew had closed temporarily after suffering a fire last week. Women at the adjacent hair salon directed us to one around the corner, where Cristiano, the owner, welcomed us with joy: we were the first international visitors of the season.
The hostel was lovely & filled with light; our spacious rooms far surpassed the cramped bunks I’d imagined we’d stay for the night. The main house opened onto a patio with a garden, delightful to look at from the little second-floor balcony. It was adorable. I was obsessed.
We spent the evening on the terrace outside with Cristiano and his friend Patricio. They told us about Molina, where they’d both spent their whole lives; about the hostel, which has been open almost a year now; and about their favorite places in Chile. They offered us wine and chocolate-covered almonds and herbal tea brewed from lemon balm grown in the garden. In turn, Cristiano asked us about English phrases–what to say to guests when they’ve just arrived, how to bid them farewell, and what does see you later mean? He even told us we should call him on our way back from the south, so he could cook us a meal himself in exchange for some English practice. (He also owns a restaurant, so this was a pretty tantalizing offer.)
The next day, we had time to kill before boarding a 5:00 bus to Radal, from where we’d head to Siete Tazas. We ate breakfast in the hostel, then visited the Miguel Torres vineyard, about ten minutes away by bus. (Located in the Central Valley, the area around Curicó has many of Chile’s renowned wineries.) Being the savvy budget-travelers we are, we declined the money-costing tour, and opted to wander around the grounds as much as we could before getting kicked out by security.
|each row of grapes had a sign indicating its type of wine! this was so charming to me
After returning to Molina, buying provisions for our camping trip and lunching on cheap empanadas, we repacked our bags, said goodbye to Cristiano and boarded the bus to Radal.