Monday, March 3, 2014

February 28, 2014, Chanaral, Chile to Santiago, Chile (March 1)

The drive from La Serena was mostly on a 4 lane divided highway with a speed limit of 120 km/h, it was again very cool and even with Diana wearing 4 layers and myself 3 we had to stop for a coffee break within an hour of starting our day. The highways in Chile are terrific, smooth asphalt, great signage, and for the most part polite drivers. The highway from Calama to Santiago is non stop semi trucks hauling supplies and equipment to the mines in northern Chile. The one thing that stood out for us over the past three days of driving (1,600 km) is how many deaths occur on the highway as indicated by the road side shrines. These shrines can be from the size of chair to as large as a double garage, usually have a picture of the deceased, a cross, parts of a vehicle, ie wheel, fender etc, beer bottles and flags with messages written on them. We've seen shrines with plastic lawn chairs and even sofa's and chairs, all in the middle of the dessert. Yesterday we even saw trees planted next to a shrine with drip irrigation to keep them alive as NOTHING is growing naturally in the Atacama.

 Northern Chile is a country with no shortage of wind, the Pacific winds are blowing steady along the coast. (this area near the ocean had small bushes growing on the hills)
 The drive along the coast was wonderful.
Many times on this trip we have commented between the two of us that considering the traffic chaos there are very few accidents and the ones we have seen are usually minor. That is until today when we saw a bus laying on it's roof at the bottom of a 30 meter deep ditch. About 1/2 an hour later we saw two wreckers headed in the direction of the crash. Then, an hour later we come across another accident involving a semi that crashed into the ditch spilling its load. The drive along this highway is monotonous and all three days I felt sleepy after 4 hours of looking at nothing but sand, rocks and mountains void of any vegetation. BUT, it's far better than Bolivia.

Small lots about a kilometer from the Pacific Ocean are for sale at 1 to 4 million peso's ($2,000 to $8,000 CDN)
We arrive on the outskirts of Santiago about 1 pm and immediately make our way to BMW to purchase a few parts. The address we had from the internet is incorrect so we pull into a gas station. Another motorcyclist notices our BC license plate and comes over to talk to us. It turns out Steve is from Montreal, now resides in Santiago and is self employed in the mining sector. Steve offers to lead us to the BMW dealer which is only 5 minutes away. The parts department closed a few minutes before we arrived and even though the staff are still there we are told to return on Monday for two signal light bulbs (we haven't had rear signals since Bolivia and are sure to get stopped in Argentina if they aren't working). While at the BMW dealer we also met Jamie who set us up with maps of southern Chile and information on Santiago.
 Having lunch with Steve Boucher in Santiago, Chile.
Steve filled us with all kinds of information about Santiago so the next 3 days should be exciting as we explore the city of about 6 million people.
Steve with his Triumph Tiger.

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