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