With the pace I am uploading this I think I will lose any hoe of ever getting back to correct mistakes. So please forgive any misspellings.
The day we’ve visited the Desert Hand in Atacama, was the last day we had our Nikon D3000 photo camera in proper working conditions. Sometime after that stop a stone must have hit it in the display, something that we’ve noticed much later during a stop. The bad news was that that the display was cracked and un-usable anymore. The good news was that the camera retained it’s main function: to take pictures. So let’s be happy about that. We will have to make it without the nice shiny colors
What we didn’t know at that time is that this incident was to be only the first of a quite long string of “accidents” happening to our electronics. But for now, the worries were far away, and we were enjoying the fresh cold morning air. The road mingled sinuously between desert rocks and the ocean and everything was so quiet in this morning. Our only companions were the fishing boats, docked in natural harbors.
Before leaving Romania a friend asked us if we could bring him back home pebbles from the more special places we will encounter. Well, since Atacama left us with a quite strong impression, Andreea decided to take a hmm “small” pebble for him. First try… major fail!
OK, shall we try again with something more appropiate. Here we go.
A little bit more South we see police in the street. They wave us down as well. We were not doing anything unlawful so I was thinking Oh, come on guys, we are enjoying Chile, please don’t change that. And just when I was about to forget all my Spanish and all my English and getting ready to have a conversation in Romanian, here are the police guys just telling us that we should be careful as Dakar Rally stage is ending here and there will be a lot of people around. Oh yes?? Bam, suddenly I remember again to speak in Spanish and the sky is bright again. So where is the Dakar? Well on that off-road there. But you cannot go with the motorcycle, the road is closed for public use. OK, but I can walk and take some pictures? Sure, go ahead. Goody!
Unfortunatelywe could not advance too much so only pics after the checkpoint so no pics from the “heat” of the action, just the finale and the relaxed waves of the ones who did managed to finish the stage. That works good enough!
It is hot, it is dusty and it is full of people. In the second one of the motorcycles stops, the rider is surrounded by spectators, all wanting to take a picture with the moto, or to shake his hand or to talk to him. It is really impressive to see the show! And a lot of these guys are local heroes.
We exit back on the main highway and it gets better! Turns out that those who finish the special stage on the insane terrain, get a “bonus” of extra 120 miles on tarmac up to La Serena. That means a lot of race cars, trucks and bikes just sharing the 2 lanes road with us. Uhuuuu!
For the next 2 and a half hours we feel right in the middle of this awesome event. The guys who finished are naturaly in a happy mood so there is a lot of passing by happening, waving around and posing for pictures. We have fun! And we see a lot of “monsters”. From the 2 wheeled ones
Up to some a little bigger… (and with more wheels on them
We are so engorged into the ride that we neglect to fill up when we had the chance. This was because I was only 150 km into the tank and I felt “safe” with so many people around. It didn’t felt like desert anymore. But guess what. IT was! Soon enough we are down to using our extra gas from the plastic recipient. Too soon after that (windy) the light blinks again. The city was still 100 kms away. Great job Alex! How cool it would be to remain without gas in the middle of the Dakar Rally guys! I already see myself waving down some of them for some spare gas. That would have made an interesting story! Luckily in the next village we find a grampa who sells gas from plastic bottles. Naturally, special price for the stranded ones…
And the old guy knows his business. Dakar or no Dakar he doesn’t drop an inch of his price. Fine, give me 5 liters of your finest! Err…
So with our wallet shaken down but with our pride saved, we can rejoin the show
On the sides of the road, lots of people, all trying to find that special spot for that special shot. Some of them have chairs with them, or blankets, they wave flags and smile. They wave to us as well which makes us feel very bad as we feel that unintentionally we are deceiving them. They came here to see the Dakar and we are not part of the Dakar. We are just two travelers. They keep waving us and I feel like stopping and say sorry sorry guys we are not what you think. Of course that is not possible so we just wave back and hope they are not too disappointed when they don’t see any “racing number” on our windshield.
And yet… even when we ride very slow and it is clear that the people realize we are not from Dakar, we are 2 up and with luggage, they still wave to us and take pictures. Even when we stop (finally) at a gas station this happens. So maybe it is just that these people are really passionate about 2 wheels? Good for them.
We reach Serena in the middle of the racers and… 5PM traffic. All on one lane going into the city. Nice. At least we have nice posters!
I know, here on the street these guys might look a little bit silly all dressed up with fancy moto suits riding their colorful machines. But it is enough to see them in action for a few minutes
and you will get the idea, you would understand what is all the hype about. OK, normally I don’t have YT links but this time…
After you see all this, I think you are ready to get out of the door and take the first plane to South America
Hmm wait we are not even back home yet. So let’s enjoy South America!
We make camp further South from La Serena in a small place near the ocean. Tenting near the water was a nice way to spend the last nigyeht close to the Pacific. Next morning we say good bye to its blue waters. It was to be the last time we will see them in this trip. Until next time! Please don’t get too dirty in the mean time!
Next was Santiago which totally surprised us. We usually avoid the big cities but here we plunged in and it turned out to be very good times. We meet wonderful Chilean people which since then become our friends (thank you Sandra, you have a wonderful family!)
We discovered a hot and lazy city, quite empty as a lot of the people were out on holidays – strange sensation walking almost all alone between high concrete buildings, with no cars passing by. Where is the crowded capital?
We also met a very cool Suzuki dealer. He let us work in his courtyard and even provided an oil pan to use without asking for a penny. Thank you! Then we spent a slow day in the city. We strolled the streets and our slow pace seemed very alert compared to others…
In the same day we encoutnered the Dakar again. This time at the last day, finish day! Just in time to see some more race cars. No race emotions today, just the parade today.
The road South will be quiet and filled with tranquility, nice views and nice people. We stay with CouchSurfing hosts (thanks guys) and discover the very pitoresque part of Chile. But we were looking at the map and despite we had covered some serious ground, we were still closer to Santiago than to Ushuaia. It was time to get back to Argentina and meet Patagonia. We were anctious to enter the last stage of the journey South. Sometimes we wish we could fly to be faster. But riding a motorcycle is as good as it gets
Argentina, here we come! Again.