Pretty much in the middle of nowhere,the petroglyphs and abundance of “piedras Tacitas”, or “little tea cup” stones at Valle Del Encanto in Ovalle, Chile were absolutely breathtaking. They are nestled in a cactus filled,chinchilla infested valley deep off the beaten path in the Coquimbo region of Chile, north of it’s capital Santiago. I decided to take the very long and curvy scenic route from Valparaíso which turned a 3 1/2 hr journey into a whole day of riding on “Zia”, my trusty KLR685 dualsport. After feeling that I was as minuscule as a termite from being dwarfed by the landscape provided by the magnificent Andes mountain range, I made my way into the site twisting through switchbacks, passing through the Haunting city named after Salem called Salamanca. At one point I was seriously worried that I wasn’t seeing any Gas stations. Luckily I found a small rinky dink store about 30 clicks south of the site and I filled up again and headed towards Ovalle. Amazingly it cost around 4 American dollars to enter and 3 more dollars to camp at the site! So I couldn’t believe it and couldn’t resist.The caretaker was a real comedian and we went into his tiny makeshift office to set up the negotiation. He told me that there were several venomous insects that I should be on the look out for, like scorpions and shit like that. I paid him and he pointed me in the general area and said have at it. I was locked in the site and had full access all night and the next day if I wanted. There was no one else there after he ended his shift. I saw a good vantage point and I set up camp on a high hill overlooking the site.

IMG_9707The huge boulders with hidden messages written by the ancients were there in the distance,just seemingly begging for my attention. Darkness was nearing in so I decided to concentrate on setting up camp. I found out rather quickly that it was a bad choice but worth it to place my tent in the high winds on top of the huge hill. That night I was bullied for 3 hrs by a falcon or hawk of some sort while stargazing and battling winds that nearly destroyed my tent.The night sky was truly amazing.I looked up and could imagine the hand of Galactus from Marvel reaching out to try and nab the Silver Surfer.It occurred to me that this was likely a big part of many Native “Americans” lifestyles and a serious and reverent form of entertainment.The sky was incredible to say the least. There wasn’t a light or presence of humans for what looked like a 50 mile radius. This made the stars illuminate in an indescribable manner. I felt very isolated for the first time in my life but what an experience! The next morning I packed up the bike and road down the very steep hill to the actual site where there are little white arrows in every direction, pointing out various petroglyphs and rock formations.

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Cultures like the Molle who created these glyphs and spent countless hours drilling into stones were heavily influenced by the stars and their alignment in the night sky. It meant harvest time, or warm weather. Religious and spiritual meanings were also connected to these large “Tacita” stones. Archaeological data tells us that these holes were used for grinding wheat, corn and other various plants that may have been brought to the site, which may be true.The locals in various parts of Chile will say that they made some sort of hallucinogenic tea for religious and spiritual ceremonies. The inept and mentally deficient naive imbeciles who call themselves “pseudo” scientists will claim there was some ancient forgotten form of lasers that melted these holes a kin to piece of lava melting a styrofoam cup.

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Looking at stones up close it’s hard to believe that they could be used for grinding corn and wheat, as they are often spaced too close for such an action. “Aldo” from “Mundo Nuevo”, a small village near Quillimari and who has an impressive collection of “piedras hordadas”, which require a similar amount of effort, will tell you that he actually makes his own stones and claims it takes him around two to three months of constant grinding and beating. Some of the petroglyphs and Tacita stones look as if they are a mirror to the stars as well, indicating that they were knowledgeable in the area of astronomy. The site at Valle Del Encanto suggests that the Molle only thrived in areas between the Coquimbo area and Illapel, yet I have found “piedras Tacitas” in the North near Antofagasta  and countless others in areas South of Ovalle. There are over 172 archaeological sites just in the Valparaíso region alone, 26 of those turned out to have Tacita stones, which contradicts any claim that the Molle were the only ones working stone between Coquimbo and Illapel. There are other nearby sights in the Valparaíso area with petroglyphs made by the Diaguita but are the Molle responsible for these stones as well? Or was this knowledge spread throughout the Andes?The Molle thrived between (200-700)AD. The site at Valle Del Encanto is around 4000 years old.The Diaguita were thought to have derived from “Las Animas Complex” who was thought to have originated from “El Molle Complex who come from the “Norte Chico” culture, but that’s a different story. The Diaguitas were dispersed into the East and West sides of the Andes going further South into Chile due to Inca expansion South of Peru until Santiago,Chile where they met resistance from the Mapuche. Anyways is likely that the Diaguita are responsible for the Tacita stones South of Illapel passing along the knowledge from The Molle to various tribes such as the Mapuche and other Araucanian peoples.

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It’s highly probable that these stones were used by many cultures and were a major deal to those from Norte Chico in Chile.There’s nothing else like Valle Del Encanto, at least for me. A must see if you are ever in the area.The caretaker will tell you that you can see all that the place has to offer in less than 30 mins but that’s nearly impossible. I spent 6 strenuous hrs climbing mountain terrain finding glyphs that were unmarked and taking a few breaks in the shade down below under Weeping Willow trees, while cooling off in the small stream that was once a huge river.

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