Wednesday, 21 November 2012

CHAPTER. . HEADING SOUTH "ON STEROIDS "

FROM ANTOFAGASTA TO CHILLAN. 1800 km in three days !

However dear reader before we start this post I have a correction to make. If you go to my brief profile to the side of this blog you will see that I state Diana will do some of the trip with me and " how much is yet to be determined". Well the "determined " part is right but in a different context. As you have gathered here in Southern Chile Diana is still on the back of the bike ( at least when I last looked!) and is "determined" to get to Ushuaia also. We are a true team.

And I put this as delicately as I can but we might be the oldest couple ever ever to ride "two up" on a motorbike from Prudhoe Bay at the top of Alaska to Ushuaia. In fact I venture to say probably less than a dozen of any age have done the full trip two up on a motorcycle full stop.

Anyway first we have to get there and we are not there yet but it certainly seems as if we are on the last leg of this long journey.

Anyway back to the nitty gritty of the journey over the last three days -

From Antofagasta it is out into the Atacama desert for us again for another glorious ride thru the desert. However one is never far from the presence of mining and there are reminders, past and present, everywhere on the road and to the side of the road.

Arhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!



From Antofagasta it was a 600km day down to Copiapo which is a mining town if there was ever one and an old historic one at that. There was even a mining exhibition and conference on when we were in town. And near the airport at Copiapo was the mine where three years ago the 30 Chilean miners got successfully rescued from after weeks deep underground.

So who was our companion at our dinner table that night but a Chilean mining engineer ! And an interesting one at that.

From Copiapo the next day the famed Atacama starts to peter out and lo and behold some vegetation starts to appear. And we go on to the long duel carriageway ( motorway) that runs for a lenght of about 2000 kms to the south.

A solar powered car being trailered because of no solar



This motorway we were on must have been dedicated to Mr "Al Sur" as there are big signs with his name on all the way down the motorway. We heard later on that this Al Sur is apparently the polar opposite to the other chappie Al Norte!

And thus we rode the second day of this leg into the town of Pichidangui which is a nice fishing/ seaside resort on the coast. As we reflected over a nice bottle of Chilean wine it was yet another very satisfying day in the office!

Mending the nets!



And today,the third day in this Chapter, we rode down to Santiago, through Santiago, and we now find ourselves about 400 km south of Santiago in a town called Chillan which is about the size of Blenheim.

And what a prosperous land south of Santiago. Talk about a land of plenty or a veritable bread basket come Garden of Eden. Green green fields with vineyards, crops, vegetables, fruit trees, you name it. And such a contrast to the barren,barren Atacama to the north.

North of Santiago



South of Santiago



And right down the middle of this garden of Eden goes the 120 km per hour Autopista. It was a beautiful road with very high standard roadside amenities everywhere. All paid for by tolls of course.

And talking of toll roads that got me wondering. Are they Government funded and built toll roads here or are they PPP's ( Private Public Partnerships) that are so much in vogue at present ?

So when the ( female) toll attendant put out her hand for yet more money I mused under my breath -

" For whom doth the belle toll? "

I looked up to see the toll attendant laugh as she took the proffered money. The penny dropped, the answer was obvious -

" she doth toll for glee!"

Anyway that is what 600km of high speed Autopista riding does to you!

And to finish the day off I looked at Google maps on the iPad tonight. We are exactly level ie at the same latitude as Auckland, New Zealand tonight. That is a milestone!




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