Lately

I think I’m probably pretty average when it comes to my subscription to superstition and new ageyness; I try pull myself back from notions of fate and to not read too much into coincidence.   I do have one weekly, delightful chink in this armor of practicality: Rob Brezsny’s Freewill Astrology.  I love my Tuesday night private indulgance in this one little paragraph wherein I’m free to squint into the few words for some self recognition.  If nothing can be found, at the very least it’s usually funny to read.  Here’s this weeks’ package (to be unwrapped):

The odometer will turn over soon, metaphorically speaking. The big supply of the stuff you stocked up on a while back is about to run out. The lessons you began studying a year ago have been completed, at least for now, and you’re not yet ready for the next round of teachings. These are just some of the indicators that suggest you should set aside time for reflection and evaluation. The world may come pounding at your door, demanding that you make a dramatic declaration or take decisive action, but in my opinion you should stall. You need to steep in this pregnant pause.

Every now and again, I read words that stop me just a little bit.  It has been almost exactly a year since I decided to pack up my life in Chicago and head for the hills. I don’t know that I can say that time is pounding at my door, but certainly there is an urgency or an expectancy lingering in the hall.

I dropped my dad off at the airport on Tuesday.  Now, Wednesday evening, he has finished his first days as an employee in Santiago.  The clock, however distant its’ measure, has been started on our new adventure.  For those of you that don’t know:  my father has accepted a position in Chile, and in about two months, I’ll be riding on his coattails to Santiago.  To me, it is still a story I tell people that I can’t quite believe.  Really, the most significant development of the week is that we’ve sold our bikes.  It’s been strange to do and sad to realize, but we can’t import used vehicles on more permanent terms into Chile.   We’ve been oddly fortunate, though, to find a father and daughter who want to take them – it seems so perfect, really.  She’s only just gotten her license and no doubt is living the same craziness and excitement I was just a short year ago.  He’s been riding for much longer and agrees that there is something fortuitous to passing bikes from one father daughter team to another.  Coincidence or fate… hmm.  Hard call.  But I like it.  I am sad to let go of Nancy: she’s been a true friend and carried me through an amazing time.  I am so pleased that she’ll be the new love of someone else.  And, truth be told, I’m already dreaming of my next bike, my next adventure…. For now the challenge lies in finding adventure in the everyday here in Santa fe.   Tick tock.

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And then a bit more…

When I told you I was leaving Chicago to ride a motorcycle with my father to Argentina, didn’t we all stand around and look at it as if it would be so long and so far from where we stood just then? Didn’t we think it was so much time and so many happenings away?

One of my favorite books (you won’t be surprised to hear, I think) is Madeleine L’ Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time.  In it is the idea of a tesseract- the author describes a right and left hand holding a string taut between them.  She writes that an ant would be able to cross the span by traversing the length of the string, but that there is a faster way: bring the two hands together and fold the distance.  A wrinkle across the distance of time. On the verge of returning, i can feel right and left drawing closer to one another.

My father and our friend Danell left for New Mexico yesterday afternoon – they should be home and resting around now.  It is an uneasy feeling to be on different continents after so much time and yet I know that for both us our return is an odd thing.  We’ve been making attempts to fade in to the background of Argentina – a passive and indiscernible protest of change.  Likely, there will be a kind of relief on the other end that I can’t quite see yet.

Buenos Aires is an incredible city.  If you get the chance, you really should come here.  Broad, open boulevards, twisting trees lining up along the streets, beautifully painted French colonial houses, parks, and outdoor cafes full of heady and dramatic conversation.  It is something made up of parts and yet fully its own thing.  You find yourself biting the lure of the sing-songish porteno accent, the tango, and the artsy-gritty feel that the city lays out for its tourists.  My father and I have long since left our appetite for churches and historical sights behind.  Mostly, we’ve spent our days wandering.  I can’t say that it’s the best or better way to come to know a city, but it is certainly an enjoyable one.  We’ve also hit the tourist markets: San Telmo for antiques, La Boca for tourist schlock, and Palermo Soho for boho chic.  We’ve taken in a tango show and a musical history of the arrival of the horse in argentine history. Best of all we’ve been in the company of friends traveling great distances to see us.  And. We. Have. Eaten.  So much beef, I don’t think I can appropriately describe.  Wine is as cheap as a trip to Starbucks, so there’s been plenty of that also.  It has been a final two weeks of indulgence.  Another protest, I’m sure, to our imminent return to normalcy.

I head to Albuquerque on Monday.  We still have to retrieve the bikes from Denver, the closest spot we could get them to New Mexico.  I had entertained notions of shipping to LA, but the reality of worn tires necessitated a closer option.  I still have a notion of heading west for a few weeks, but it requires some financial assessing.  I hope to keep writing to you here and sharing the experience of “what now?” –it is the next adventure.  I’m taking suggestions.

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Poco a Poco: Iguazu to Buenos Aires

This won’t be the last post, but the end of the road is in sight.

We left Puerto Iguazu with storm clouds blanketing this whole part of the continent.  Locally, the piece of Argentina that extends up toward the junction with Brazil and Paraguay is referred to as Mesopotamia, as it is bounded by rivers that define the national boundaries.  Water was rolling in from the South Atlantic in boiling torrents of rain that fills those rivers, and we got up close and personal with a whole lot of it.  Our “rain gear” was almost a joke – this was something well beyond mere “rain”.  Soaked and chilled, we finally broke out near the end of the day and stopped at a great little posada (B&B-like small hotel) in the small town of Gobernador Virasoro.  This is the region where Argentina grows the tea they are all so fond of, and the beautifully manicured fields surrounded us.

The next day, we split the distance to Buenos Aires and stopped at the town of Federacion, which is a tourist destination popular with the hot spring/bath crowd.  We really were just making miles to get to BA, but did take the time to stroll the town and get a feel for the place.  Pleasant on the river and filled with a crowd edging toward the elder set, walking from the baths to hotels in their fluffy white robes.  But again, a nice place to stay the night, and we were well positioned for the run to Buenos Aires the next day.

A short note about the road we were on:  this is the infamous “Ruta 14” that is really the only good choice for the destination we had, and it is well known as a place where the police are…economically motivated.  There are plenty of stories to be found on the internet about motorists (and motorcyclists) who’ve contributed to the well-being of these gentlemen.  And there are a LOT of police on Ruta 14.  Only once did we have the pleasure of their company.

We were waved over at a “control” point staffed by the three gents in the photo.  Two came over to talk to us and the boss stayed back at their car haggling with some other poor soul whom they had ensnared.  He honestly, no kidding, had a calculator on the trunk of his car to do the math.  Too funny.

Our two gents were the warm up, and they deferred all real negotiation to their boss, who would be with us “soon”.  They talked about how dangerous the road was, how we must have been speeding, and how the fine could be as much as 2000 pesos ($500).  But we kinda spoiled their their gig when we came off our bikes with friendly smiles and handshakes, and Heather asking if she could get a group photo of us all (that REALLY made ‘em skittish), and then the waiting game ensued.  We hung around maybe fifteen minutes while their boss dealt with a very animated “client” who was apparently not having it.  And we were taking photos, playing the happy tourists…so when he finally got to us, I think they had all decided we weren’t the right game for their hunt.  We got nothing more than a “be careful” admonition and we were on our way, none the worse for wear, and very glad we had NOT let the tales of bad cops on Ruta 14 keep us from seeing Iguazu Falls.  It is a shame, but I’m certain there are riders who give the Falls a pass just because of these knuckleheads.

Our arrival into Buenos Aires was a sweet ride.  The fields and pastures continue very near the city, and the trees are full of birds.  I’m pretty sure I caught a glimpse of two capybaras lazing in a marsh on the side of the road.  Lots of cattle and horses.

As we neared the city, two lanes turned to four and the traffic picked up.  Then several long and very tall bridges over broad, brown rivers dropped us onto an expressway that gained more traffic and more lanes and, in short order, we were in the midst of it all, shooting across Buenos Aires on a major freeway through the city.  A quick stop to check the maps in our iPhones, and we rode directly to the little house in the Palermo barrio where our friends from the US had arrived earlier in the day.  It all seemed a bit surreal after such an amazing journey of deserts, jungles and mountains, far-flung border crossings and adventures, good cops, great cops and bad cops, hotels, hostels, posadas and many new friends.  To roll up in this busy little street in Argentina, and get big hugs from old friends so far from our start was very, very cool.  Quick showers and a toast to our success and we were all off to discover Buenos Aires…but I think that’s a separate story…

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Woohoo!

We made it! Despite a whole squadron of Police on the infamous route 14, we arrived safe and sound in Buenos Aires. Details to follow…but somehow this mural, just down the street, seemed appropriate.

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Mendoza to Iguazu…Falling for Argentina

Cabernet on the Vine

So, as of last writing, there we were in Mendoza, Argentina.  Mendoza turned out to be quite a nice town, a tourist destination, and a city proud of its trees and numerous plazas.  The town of Maipu that some may have heard of (or read on a wine bottle) is a sorta kinda suburb of Mendoza, made famous by the many vineyards there.  We opted for a bicycle tour of the wine road, and traded our BMWs for beat up little yellow bikes – maybe not such a good deal.  But if you’re touring vineyards, a safer alternative, since the end of each tour is always the tasting!

So off we went on wobbly wheels, and our first stop was a museum/active vintner not far from the start.  We had a nice tour and got the skinny on how they do their magic, with the added plus that it is the harvest here, and the wine making gear is running full steam.

Highlight of the day was lunch at a restaurant in the midst of thousands of acres of vineyards, and it was one of the memorable meals of the trip.  Lunch (an inadequate word for the meal we shared) included a touch of education in that we learned of the Torrontes grape, an Argentine favorite, that produces a delightful white wine, not too sweet, with nice pear and citrus smells.  Yummy.

Mendoza was also where we hardened the decision not to attempt Patagonia on this trip.  It’s just a bit late in the season and would be cool-to-cold, and time is growing short.  Now THAT’S a phrase we hated to see enter our conversation, but it’s true.  We’re starting to see the end over the horizon, and have to either face it or toss all thoughts of responsibility and become permanent vagabonds.

We determined that where we really needed to go was Iguazu Falls.  Many had told us that it was an absolute must, and it involved rolling north to warmer temps, so that is exactly what we determined to do.  It would be a hike, but with a world-class prize at the end.

Miles of Miles (BIG Country!)

Leaving Mendoza heading east was like crossing rural Indiana…repeatedly.  When the vineyards ran out, the scenery turned to enormous farms and ranches that stretched on for miles and miles and miles.  By day’s end, we had reached San Luis, where we spent the night and planned our next day’s run to Cordoba.

The ride from San Luis to Cordoba was a sweet one that might have been even sweeter if it was just a little earlier in the year, and warmer.  After passing through rolling hills and many small towns, it was up and over the Cordillera, topping out at over 7,000 feet.  The thermometer on my bike dove down to 39 degrees F, and stayed there for miles.  It was beautiful, curvy, rocky and fascinating…but cold!  A complication hit when Heather’s bike developed an intermittent quirk – her motor would stall at the same moment her tachometer would indicate (falsely) that it was over-revving.  Weird and totally inconvenient.

We nursed it on in to Cordoba, checked into a hotel, found parking and dinner and called it a day.  The next morning, we met the nice folks at BMW Cordoba, and at first, of course, the problem wouldn’t reoccur.  But a persistent mechanic went over the bike and found the problem – and a very simple one it was.  Prolonged vibration had loosened the connection to her battery, and merely tightening it back cured the ill.  Her bike was simply shutting itself off for brief moments, like a flickering light.  After a thorough going over, her bike was pronounced healed and we were on our way.  These guys are terrific, and if anybody reads this who is passing through Cordoba, be sure and drop by.

Sunrise, Rio Parana, Corrientes

From Cordoba, the next stop was in Parana, on the east bank of the river of the same name.  We passed through more hundreds of miles of lush farmland along the way, with lots of fat cattle.  Parana was where we would break north and head back into humid, more tropical country.  We followed the Parana to Corrientes and spent the night in one of the worst hotels of the trip.  Too bad, really, as Corrientes, a port city on the river, looked to be an interesting town.  But the Falls was our destination and we wouldn’t be slowed…

Off and at it in the morning, we had about 390 miles to make Puerto Iguazu.  This was/is a really nice ride, and I’m glad we made it in the fall of the year – the road passed through increasingly rolling hills and thick, increasingly tropical forest as we headed up into the strange little geographical oddity that is the “Missiones” region of Argentina.  Take a look at a map – it is a thin strip of land extending up between Brazil and Paraguay, and looks like a mapmaker’s mistake.

We rolled into Puerto Iguazu right on schedule, and found our current digs – a great little hotel called the “Jardin de Iguazu”.   It is only 4 months old and extremely well maintained, which means all the towels are new, the rooms are perfect – everything is tip-top!  And the staff are equally fresh and friendly.  We would absolutely recommend this one to anyone headed this way.  After a great dinner, we hit the sack with plans to go and see the falls in the morning.

And see the falls we did!  When we recount the many memorable places and things we have seen on this trip, this is definitely one of the most remarkable, and should mark a place on everyone’s “things to see before I croak” list.  Legend has it that Eleanor Roosevelt, when shown the falls here, said that Niagara was a “dripping faucet” after Iguazu.  It is absolutely tremendous and we now understand fully why people come here from all over the world.  Well worth the days spent riding to get here.  No question.

We started our tour by taking the bus to the park, which is a few miles outside the town.  It filled a good, full day to walk the many catwalks and bridges they’ve installed to get folks up close and personal with the many different falls that comprise Iguazu, for Iguazu isn’t really just one fall, but a wall of waterfalls that stretches across several miles.  Without question, the most exhilarating part was the boat-ride that takes you right up into the crashing waters.  It’s a full soaking event, and worth the considerable hike down to the river where the boats launch.  We both commented how much James and Becky would love it.

The park is home to LOTS of critters, including literally millions of butterflies, some the size of small birds.  We saw dozens of Coatis – the South and Central American cousin to the raccoon, tame as cats.  Lots of signs warn the visitors not to feed the Coatis – but the Coatis seem to have quite another view.  One particularly bold youngster started nosing through a ladies purse that had been enticing him with potato chips, to the crowd’s delight, when he suddenly grabbed her bag of potato chips and bolted.  I guess he didn’t read the signs that say human food is bad for him, and nobody was ready to try and get that bag back…

Delinquent Coati

Day two in Iguazu was a bit of a hoot – but not the hoot we planned.  We started the day with a quick trip to Brazil, and yes, we can technically say we made it into Brazil…but when we got to the customs booth, the polite lady wanted to know where our visas were.  Visas??  Nobody said we needed visas…so our cab driver took us back across the river to the Brazilian consulate where we learned, from a cranky little man who spoke very little but pointed at signs with great enthusiasm, that a visa cost 546 pesos (the same $135 we charge Brazilians for visas), and that they were only available in the morning…as in TOMORROW morning.  We had a good laugh and decided Brazil wasn’t in the cards.

Instead, we remained in Argentina and visited a large refuge that takes in mammals and birds that are wounded or can’t be kept by others.  They rehabilitate all they can, release those that are able to return to the jungle, and keep those they can’t.  It was a very nice guided tour, and a pleasant way to spend the afternoon.

Our second debacle was an intended river cruise, which our hotel recommended.  The Rio Iguazu and Rio Parana join at the edge of this town, just past the falls.  We went to the dock and found that…the boat was down for repairs and the cruise would have to wait until tomorrow…when there’s rain in the forecast.  But it was a beautiful view down at the dock, looking across to Brazil across one river and Paraguay across the other.

So there’s the update for now – we’ll stay here another day, and then break for Buenos Aires, to meet up with friends and start to conjure a way to get ourselves, our bikes and our gear back to the US.  I write that with somewhat mixed feelings, I’ll admit.  It will be absolutely terrific to see the folks that are coming down to BA, and BA should be amazing.  However, contemplating the end of this remarkable journey is not such a happy thought.  Perhaps, like the teaser ending on any good adventure film, the next post should be the prelude to the sequel…after all, there’s still Patagonia to explore…and more of Costa Rica…

Yea…Southern Chile…Patagonia…hmmm…Costa Rica…hmmm…so many places…

Saludos to all, we are still well and still happy, and hope you are as well!

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Live from Argentina

Time. The time grows between our posts, it grows at our destinations. How much of it we have left to travel fades.  Its curious to think that normally a two week period to travel is a great luxury; for me, suddenly, it looks like sand escaping the upper cup of the hourglass.  Nevertheless, we are doing our best to use it well.  We’ve decided to try to add Uruguay to our list and, if we can make it, up to see Iguazu Falls.  We arrived in Mendoza, Argentina last night after staying in Santiago for five days.  We hadn’t anticipated staying that long, but we had a really wonderful experience there that made it difficult to leave voluntarily.

The route to Santiago was three long days’ drive from San Pedro de Atacama.  I should say before I move south, that San Pedro was an incredible experience.  We took the bags off of our bikes for a day and rode around the amazing landscape and traveled through the Valle de la Luna where you could walk through walls mostly composed of salt crystals and hear them expanding in the heat.  If you didn’t know what it was, you’d expect the walls to crash down around you; fortunately we’d been warned. The town itself was almost exclusively tourist driven, but the food was great and the night skies were gorgeous: we were truly in the middle of nowhere.  Driving out through the desert, its hard to imagine how people survive that climate.  Occasionally, we would pass by remnants of towns or work sites, its hard to say- everything dissolves back into earth in a way that its hard to know what is old and what is ancient.   And then there might be a geoglyph or two, or a giant hand statue.  Somehow, when there’s nothing around, anything is possible.

We arrived in Santiago and got lost as soon as we could.  We had made a reservation and had an address but little sense of where we were.  After a few detours we made our way to the Providencia neighborhood where we greeted and welcomed to the petit hotel L’Ambassade (www.ambassade.cl).  This hotel would become our home while we stayed in the city, its proprietors our good friends.  It’s owned and operated by three siblings: Maria Jose, Pia, and Adolphe Parolin.  They took us in and adopted us and even spent their days off with us.  I’ll admit that they helped me put Santiago high on the list of places I might like to live.  The city itself reminded me a lot of Chicago, actually – lots of trees, broad streets, less high rises and more 3-4 flats.  We took the bikes to the dealer and had them serviced – new front brakes for me and a decision not to change the tires (yay! tires would’ve been crazy expensive) and fresh oil all around.  We had a few days to see a few things, but mostly we wandered.  An old friend met up with us for dinner we talked more about the city and how its developing and the quality of life there.  hmmm….

Some of the stories we’ve heard  about the earthquake have been jarring.  Most people, despite their material losses, overwhelmingly described their gratitude at having the health and safety of their friends and family.  It is a thing I cannot imagine and am glad to not have experienced.  There were signs here and there: downed pedestrian bridges, crumbled facades, twisted balconies.  Everyone mentioned it in some way or another- it is a bruise on the consciousness of the city.  Though my friend Nils expressed his feeling that it has brought a welcome sense of togetherness to the country.

So now we are in Mendoza.  The ride here was beautiful and surprisingly, driving into Mendoza at night felt like we might’ve been somewhere in the US.  Slowly, as we draw closer to our return, the end point looks more like the beginning. Time compresses.  And tomorrow, we trade in our motorcycles for bicycles and head for the vineyards of Maipu.  Not a bad way to spend a day.

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Leaving Bolivia, Northern Chile

Mountains to desert, the coast to the Atacama…the changes in just a few short days have been astounding.

La Paz:  Busy, chaotic, you gotta be born there to truly understand the streets…but since it was also a “going back” place, like Panama, it felt comfortable and was a good rest stop.

A few words of description might be useful.  La Paz is a city you can divide in three parts – arriving from Peru and Titicaca, the road crosses the Altiplano (high plain) at something between 13 and 14,000 feet.  It’s chilly and sometimes borders on harsh.  The road arrives through the “el Alto”, the sprawling and growing poor side of town.  Navigate el Alto and you next spill down the steep sides of the bowl that contains the center of the city.  Lastly, it drops another step to the Zona Sur, where the more affluent neighborhoods reside.  Each drop includes a temperature increase and more oxygen.  Annual income and altitude tend to be inversely related here – the lower the altitude, the better the likelihood of expendable income.

We arrived in La Paz after several days of making considerable miles, including the best and worst riding days so far.  With no appreciable stop since Lima other than a day in Cusco, we were due a rest.  Heather, doing her usual great job of researching hotels, had found a great little “apart-hotel” hidden away in a hillside neighborhood of older homes in the lower part of the center of the city.  It was impossible to find in the spaghetti map of this old city, so we finally paid a cab driver a buck to lead us to it.  A La Maison is one we can highly recommend to anyone else passing this way – just don’t try to find it on your own.

It was terrific seeing La Paz as a tourist, and my calves should recover soon – Heather is quite a walker and keeping up with her on the steep streets of La Paz was a challenge.  I had brief thoughts of tripping her and causing just enough injury to slow her down a little, but decided against it.  Would probably end up tripping myself in the bargain…

The Gang at Embassy La Paz

A highlight of our time here was reconnecting with the crew from the office in the Embassy where I worked while we lived in La Paz.  It was a real treat to be welcomed back after such a long absence, and we reminisced about past adventures.  These folks are easily some of the most capable and dedicated professionals I had the pleasure of managing in all our years overseas.  They’ve seen big changes recently with the new government.  Evo Morales, the current President, is not a fan of the US Government, so the Embassy population is down considerably.

Leaving La Paz, we got an unexpected sendoff when an old friend, John Elliot rolled up on his bike to show us the shortest way out.  We had spent the previous evening with him and his family at their home.  His short cut probably trimmed an hour off the time required to escape the city, and it was a very pleasant surprise.

We rolled south, again on the Altiplano, dodging rain storms.  A last fill up in Putamayo and we broke west for Chile.  The scenery quickly turned spectacular as we climbed to well over 15,000 feet at the border.  Herds of llamas were abundant, some looked to be as many as a hundred or more, and I’ll never stop chuckling when I see a llama crossing warning sign.  Don’t quite know why it’s so funny.  The mountains (volcanoes) in this region are eternally snow-capped, and top out well over 20,000 feet.  Breathtaking.

The border crossing gets a mention – this was the fastest and easiest border so far.  Drop off the customs docs and get an immigration stamp in Boliva, and ten kilometers later, you’re crossing into Chile!  A couple of Bolivian soldiers who looked to be teenagers made a half-hearted and clumsy attempt at asking for money, but they were still way too wet behind the ears to pull it off.  At the Chilean side, the officials actually HELPED us fill our forms, smiled, were friendly, and counted the flags on our side cases in awe (Chile makes our twelfth country so far).  It was great.  And the backdrop of snow-covered, conical volcanoes was stunning.

We rolled on toward the coast and made Arica that night.  We found Arica to be a completely forgettable town.  If you’re making the trip and can pass it by, do so.

Up and out in the morning, we made for Iquique.  Again, the scenery was spectacular.  The entire coast from northern Peru south through northern Chile is all a vast desert. In Peru, it was enormous sand dunes.  Chile so far is enormous dirt/rock mountains and incredibly deep valleys stretching for hundreds of miles – it all looks like a location shoot from star wars.

There is really no town between Arica and Iquique (and no gas station), so we were pleased to happen across a short string of shops and little cafes at about the midpoint.  There was a BMW motorbike parked in front of one, and we stopped in for water and a snack and met a really nice couple rolling north.  We swapped info about bikes and roads, and wished them well.  They were Chileans headed for Cusco, so we gave them the contact info for Jeff at Norton’s Rat.  I’m sure they’ll get the same warm welcome we did.

Iquique was a moderate ride, and we checked in late in the afternoon at the “Backpacker’s Hostal”.  We both really liked Iquique, which is a combo port city and beach resort.  The visual contrast there is amazing, with the backdrop of enormous and barren desert mountains skirting gorgeous Pacific beaches.  We quickly shucked our riding gear and set out to see a bit of the city.  Highlights included the park along the beach, and the crab empanadas at Hula Hula – a little beer and snacks stand near where the fishing boats are moored.  Also the pelicans and sea lions that hang out at the fishing docks, looking for a handout.  They all put on quite a show.

And now, yesterday, we’ve moved on again – to San Pedro de Atacama, back east toward the Bolivian/Argentine border.  It is said to be the driest desert in the world and well worth the visit.  Gun barrel straight roads for miles and miles, with absolutely no evidence of any living thing, other than the abandoned (and one active) nitrate extraction sites.  Even these are far between.  It is beautiful in a curious way, if nothing else just for the enormity of it all.  In hundreds miles, I saw one bird – and it was dead.  Road kill.  Not a weed, not a tree — nothing but sand, rock and dirt.

As we moved east, we began to climb a bit, and at one point, we passed what we were told is the largest open pit copper mine in the world.  In Calama, the nearest town, we stopped to find an ATM, and the nicest couple stopped in their car to see if we were lost.  We weren’t really lost (yet), but they made sure by leading us to an ATM, and then leading us to the edge of town to the road we needed.  Super nice, these Chileans!

We set out for our last 60 miles across more desolation, and then all at once, after cresting at about 3,000 meters, the road dropped through a remarkable canyon into a delightful little adobe village, with a population of about 2,000.  We’ve only just arrived last night, so know little other than that San Pedro is an adventure destination for foreigners and Chileans alike, and we know that it has great restaurants.  Today, we expect to strip the bags off the bikes and go for a wander.  There are said to be salt pools for swimming and canyons for viewing, and all that will have to wait for the next post.  For now, breakfast awaits and Heather’s still snoozing, so I’d better wake her before she misses out!

Best to all – and take good care.  We’re fine, the bikes are running great (with a bit more oxygen now that we’re lower), and all is well.

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