October 30, Arica, Chile; October 31, Antofagasta
November 1, Chañaral; November 2, La Serena, Chile
We’re not finished with the Peruvian desert yet. Sometimes flat.
And sometimes hilly. It seems to go on forever, and we haven’t even reached the huge Atacama Desert in Chile.
But always sandy and stony.
There are few towns.
Gas stop in Moquegua.
Tacna is close to the border with Chile. One wonders what the sign at the entrance to the city used to say.
It’s a busy junction anyway.
At the border post in the middle of nowhere a few sad palm trees don’t relieve the monotony much.
We reach the Pacific for the fist time in Arica, Chile.
October 31, Antofagasta
The next day we wind in an out of coastal valleys. They are like fjords, but in the desert. At times we climb above the clouds of fog filling the valleys.
Everyone tries to get a decent picture of the fog below us. The cord hanging from Marilyn’s jacket is for her heated clothing. Yes, the Chilean coast was chilly, too. We don’t have any pictures of the heavy fogs we had to ride through—too busy staying on the road, and staying upright.
And we come back down under the cloud at the police traffic checkpoint in Cuya. Madeleine rolls to a stop and announces, “I have a flat tire.”
Mauricio leaps to the rescue, aided and abetted by Denny. Madeleine decides she’d better not offer any advice. They get the huge nail out.
Then they remove the wheel, and have a gentlemen’s consultation. Oh yeah, it’s a tube tire. And the tools are in the truck—which went to Puno. Remember? And did we mention that it took the rest of our luggage?
A bus has rolled up, but the driver shrugs his shoulders.
The policeman is whistling Dixie.
So the gentlemen decide to put the wheel back on. In the meantime Suzanne, in the background, spots a pickup truck coming down the lightly travelled highway with one motorcycle in the back. If it has one motorcycle, then maybe, just maybe . . .
And a very, very kind Chilean gentleman agrees to transport Madeleine’s bike. The policeman assists with the loading—nominally.
Mauricio gives it the final shove.
Madeleine hitches a ride behind Brian again for a couple of hundred kilometres south through the seemingly endless Atacama desert.
To Iquique on the coast, where our gallant rescuer finds a tire repair shop. And the wheel comes off again. Madeleine has had happier moments.
But the tire guy knows what he’s doing.
And we hug the somewhat bleak coast to Antofagasta.
November 1, Chañaral
Antofagasta in the morning.
Outside our hotel. Holiday Inn wasn’t the first choice for ambience, but perfectly serviceable.
About 70 kilometres south of Antofagasta we stop at the huge Hand in the Desert. We were very lucky to find it clean. Apparently it is often covered with graffiti, and has to be repainted each year.
Without other objects in the picture, its size is deceptive.
Mauricio, the full-service guide, is festooned with other people’s cameras.
From the Hand, the landscape looks like this in all directions. The Atacama is one of the two driest deserts in the world. In some meteorological stations in the Atacama no rain has been registered in the 50 years they have been in operation. From north to south the Atacama stretches about a thousand kilometres.
A few oases here and there for a quick refreshment.
And a stop for lunch at Aguas Verdes, Green Waters. What waters? The cook kindly made some chicken soup (not on the menu) to warm us up.
We wait for two dots—Tom and Marilyn—at the Pan de Azúcar turnoff, just north of Chañaral. We decide to ride into town as a group, as it’s better to get lost together.
November 2, La Serena
The beach boulevard in La Serena. We’re about a third of the way down the Chilean coast, getting closer to the capital, Santiago, and the coast is becoming much more upscale.
Our hotel near the lighthouse monument.