Valle del Hilo de la Vida, Uruguay

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Alicia and I headed to an area called Valle del Hilo de la Vida, the Valley of the Thread of Life, where there are a series of stone cones. The stone cones may have been created by native people over a thousand years ago, but researchers are not sure exactly why. The valley is thought to be sacred and hold a special energy.

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Before entering the valley, where we would walk to avoid disrupting the historic stone structures, Alicia and I had to first ask permission. Alicia led me to a stream where we dipped our hands in the cool water and then took a sip to see if we would be able to enter. I wasn't sure that drinking from the stream was a good idea for a traveler like me, so let my local guide Alicia do that part. This was sufficient to get us the good energy we needed to hike into the valley.

I have been in many places, where the locals believe that the land is special. In remote Kipahulu on the island of Maui, I waited on horseback as Keoni, my guide, chanted, sang and prayed a traditional oli or call to his ancestors before we were able to enter the upper part of a pristine forest. In Ireland on mythical Omey Island, I gave a an offering of my horse's hair at the holy well. If the locals say it should be done, I am not one to mess with rituals, especially when there are sacred places involved.

We seemed to have passed muster as we hiked into the valley. All around us on the hills, I could see the stone cones. At first you don't really notice them, but once you see one, you pick out more, sort of like those pieces of artwork made of thousands of dots where you have to look closely for the images to appear.

There are around 100 of these stone formations here in Valle del Hilo de la Vida. Alicia and I hiked to a large cone to see how big it was close up. You can see from the photo that it is quite large and that there are these almost stair like stone appendages that jut out around the formation.

It was quite hot out there under the sun with not many trees around, so we hiked back to the welcome center by the entrance. The stone cone site is owned by a husband and wife team whose family makes amazing pizzas in their wood fired ovens. We enjoyed cold water, coke and a myriad of pizzas as we met the family and learned more about what they know about this interesting archeological site. They certainly have a passion for ensuring its preservation and hiking around those stone cones only made me want to know more.

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