Sand, Hand and a Little Oil


December 18th and 19th, 2011

The desert I had been riding through for what seemed like weeks is called the Atacama, the driest place in the world.

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Rainfall here is one millimeter a year. So, it’s a perfect place to put up a sculpture of a giant hand.

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The sculpture, technically called the Mano el Desierto, was done by a Chilean artist and is supposed to represent loneliness and helplessness. Not what I think of when I see a giant hand, but it is still cool. And covered in graffiti.

Back on the road and riding south the landscape didn’t change much.

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My planned route had me going through the Pan Azucar National Park, but I couldn’t find the road to turn on and ended up in Chanaral.

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I spent some time trying to decide whether to ride back into the park and camp again or find a room, and opted for the room. Even though I had showered before leaving I felt pretty gross, but I guess riding through a desert without mesh gear will do that.

The next morning I noticed something pretty cool –

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Green growing stuff! It felt like it had been a long time, although really it hadn’t been. It cheered me up, and I even saw more as I kept riding south.

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I stopped in a town called Copiapo for lunch, which was in a restaurant next to a gas station. The place was standing room only about 15 minutes after I got there, so I guess they knew Blue was coming. After lunch I checked my tires and oil, and seeing the oil was a little low added a bit. My oil use had gone up in the heat.

Back on the road I headed south again, thinking about the miles and realizing I would be in Santiago before Christmas. Jeremy, from the Isle of Man, had said he was going to be there then and I wondered if I could find him. Then I noticed the bike was running rougher, and when I pulled in the clutch it died. I drifted over to the side of the road, and saw –

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