I was born and raised near Parral, 220 miles south of Santiago, towards the mountains. I grew up surrounded by hills, rivers and mountains. I was a mule driver for many years, so I spent a lot of my time in the mountains, living off what nature gave me, fishing in the river, roasting fresh fish over a campfire, drinking water directly from the springs and eating fruit taken from the trees. I had a very outdoor life.
I spent the first 25 years of my life in that environment. I have always felt a special connection to the mountains, so when I decided to move to the city of Santiago, it was something I knew I would miss. In Santiago things were totally different from what I knew. I found a city where there were a lot of people, too much noise and cars. For me all that was new.
But the great advantage of living in Chile is that the mountains are present throughout the country. So, very soon I found my refuge in the mountains near the city. Two hours from Santiago there is a place that takes me back to my years in Parral, a place with hot springs, crystal clear rivers and fresh air: the natural hot springs of Valle de Colina, a place that has no facilities where you can only camp.
I go there three or four times a year, usually with family and friends. We put up our tents, go hiking, we bathe in the hot springs, and drink water from the river. And at night we have a bbq and drink wine to warm ourselves from the cold. The weather is totally unpredictable, sometimes it’s sunny, then cloudy, then windy and rain and then sunshine again. The truth is that time flies, nobody misses their computers or phones or the noise of the city.
Despite having lived 25 years in the city, I feel that I have not lost the connection to the mountains, I am still a lover of the mountains and it is the place that I never get tired of visiting.
BY CEFERINO FUENTES