Posts Tagged ‘Chile’


The dog stopped barking when he saw me, ran up to me, and gave me a big lick on the leg. He then sat on my lap, trying to lick my face as I relaxed under the trees looking out at the 40 year old eucalyptus tree.

Comunidad Gren

Comunidad Gren

All this green had popped up out of an absolute barren moonscape. Not a blade of grass and then, suddenly, trees and signs of life on the side of the road. Comunidad Gen. An old lady came out of a hut under the trees. She talked and talked in Spanish – happy to see someone. Noone ever comes during the week. Have I seen the chickens, goats, rabbits and ducks? The water for all this is transported from the coast. She has been here from the beginning, and planted that eucalyptus tree 40 years ago. She was proud of the project and happy with life.

Comunidad Gren

Comunidad Gren

It was hot today and the sun was just so strong. Not a cloud in the sky. Nothing but blue sky and bright sand. I would stop under the shade of road signs to put more sunscreen on and had lunch in the shade behind a truck weigh station building.

Near Comunidad Gren

Near Comunidad Gren

Near Comunidad Gren

Near Comunidad Gren

I passed the Tropic of Capricorn as I was blown forward by a strong tailwind.

Tropic of Capricorn

Tropic of Capricorn

I’m in Baquedano – a mining town. It has a bit of a wild west frontier feeling. It’s the last stop before I leave the main road and head towards the small town of Peine – 208km away.

Baquedano

Baquedano

Baquedano

Baquedano

Baquedano

Baquedano


‘Give me a tip. 20,000 or 40,000 – it’s up to you.’ ($A40 or $A80). What could I do? He had my bike.

How did this happen?

‘Antofagasta?’
‘Yes,’ I replied, bike and luggage in hand at Santiago airport, freshly out from customs, just through the sliding door.
‘You’re going to be late!’
That’s when the whirlwind started.
He whisked me away, up lifts, across hallways, jumping queues.
My bag was dropped off at the check-in and the bike was whisked away to oversized luggage by his colleagues while we ran to security.
He also took me past the ATM. I wanted to go to one anyway.

So, my bike with his colleagues somewhere back there and security ahead, he asked for a tip. And not a small one. I only had large denomination notes and he knew it. He had been helpful. He was an airport official. But asking for the tip made me wonder if my bike was going to arrive in Antofagasta at all.

I used my newly refreshed Spanish at the gate to check that the luggage was, indeed, on the plane.

Nothing bad had happened. Lesson learned. Be careful.

The bike arrived in one piece and survived me putting it together.

My evening and next day in Antofagasta was spent sitting on the balcony, getting provisions for crossing the Atacama Desert and watching kids dance in large square.

View from my balcony

View from my balcony

A nice lawn for urination

A nice lawn for urination

The dancing kids

The dancing kids

It seemed that the dancers were all teenage girls, some non-binary kids and effeminate guys. Quite an interesting mix.

Tomorrow the bike trip starts – up and out of Antofagasta and into the Atacama Desert.