Oh wait. Been done.
Alright, so no one has biked to the moon. But what if I propose to cycle on the moon? Any supporters? At least weigh of the load would not be burdensome! Ok, so moving on..
After the weeks in Bolivia, it was a completely different world in Chile, and after weeks of surviving the rough outdoors, you bet we took a rest in San Pedro. San Pedro is a small town located in the driest desert of the world (second to Antarctica) the Atacama desert. There are areas visited for it’s moon like landscape to see and hike around. But San Pedro itself, let’s be honest, it’s a party town. The folks here rise late, hungover, tour the natural attractions by day, and back to party at night.
I camped at the Sol del Naciemente hostel for a week. The house was full; it was peak season for foreigners and vacationing Chileans. I had a great time here, and meet many cool travelers. Rather than going out to the bars in town, I preferred to be in the main house of the hostel in time when everyone is sharing dinner, beers and laughs.
Some days in the late afternoon when it’s cooler outside, I played outdoors in the desert. I went sand boarding with my friend, Miguel and a few girls from Chile. We cycled a few kilometers out of town into the valley surrounded by dunes and rock, to a huge sand dune. Surfing on sand is much less intimidating than surfing in the ocean, but it’s a lot of work to carry a a board and hike the dune. Another day, Paul and I went to visit the famous Valle de la Luna. Meaning Valley of the Moon, it’s a highlight of the desert, known for it’s beautiful and strange lunar landscape. Some areas had not received rain for hundreds of years. The road we cycled, and the lookout spot, offered amazing views of the valley, beautifully enhanced by sunset. And if you happen to be in Chile, watching the television, look out for me in the commercials for the World Cup support for Chile advertizement. Paul sent me to a commercial filming that took place outside of San Pedro. The filming took place in an old village (name forgotten). My role was to jump around as if the Chilean team made the finals and jumped into the arms of my “partner” and spun around on the stairs of a church (hilarious bit that took 8 shots to get the right look, and we nearly fallen from the steps!)
I felt after some days, it was enough to be in San Pedro. Paul wanted to stay, so we agreed to temporarily split and meet later, in the south.
So began my solo touring. Although, it wasn’t so lonely. I met many people who became my company and were very kind and helped me. This has always been the case. However, many assume being alone is so dangerous. I think too many people emphasize the bad situations in life. Why don’t we expect that people want to help and have good intentions?
In short, my experience. I had a first rough night camping, due to furious desert wind that collapsed my tent and I am short on tent pitch sticks. Same night, the stove struggled to stay on fire, while I cooked pasta. Following Murphy’s law; my camera failed to turn on, and my debit car, only bank card expired and the bike has mechanical problems. These inconveniences all were reasons why I pushed to get to Santiago faster. I did so, by hitchhiking.
Hitchhiking turns out to be so easy in Chile. I hopped into about 7 vehicles for rides as long as 6 hours and short 5 minute transport. San Pedro, I cycled a day to Calama, then got a ride to the coast, began with Antofagasta. I cycled out of of Antofagasta to a junction, and hitched a semi-truck ride near Copiapó. I cycled to Copiapó and stayed a few days. A car ride to La Serena, a beach town. Next day I cycled into the wine Valle of Valle de Elqui, and camped at a gas station after I went to a star observatory. Next morning back to La Serena, and a guy offered help by a ride to a popular hitchhiking gas station, and a place to sleep. From La Serena, a ride to Concon, and I cycled from Con con 30 km east towards Santiago, but with 100 km left of dense traffic and no shoulder, I hitchhiked the last 100 to Santiago. It took less than two weeks to do all this.
Nearly all of the drivers and fellow hitchhikers offered me water, snacks, coffee. Even one driver have me 20 bucks to be sure I could get groceries and he got me a bag of very tasty pastries famous from a small town north on Vina del Mar. Some drivers who I did not get rides from, offered help, like a lady gave me her number to stay with in the south and a great map of Chile. In most places I was welcomed to camp, and by the stations there was a guard, in some areas it was only me and the stars. I left San Pedro with a few dollars in my pocket, and I arrived two weeks later to Santiago with more food than I could finish and more cash. Chileans are awesome!
And now, I am in Santiago. A key was left for me at the apartment front desk by Jamie, my friend Miguel’s brother. Miguel is out of town and Jaime works all day, so I have an apartment on 15th floor to myself, in a trendy neighborhood, located in Santiago center. Sweet! There is a great view of the sunset over the city. And an ex-girlfriend of Miguel left a ton of clothes and girly stuff – I was welcome to have at it. Now, I can relax, and try to make some money selling food, and visit some friends whom i met in San Pedro. What more could I want? I feel like I stepped into my home, as temporary as it is, I am grounded.
And what will happen next?! Will I get my card in the mail (oh I certainly hope so. Thanks Mom for sending it!) And what’s after Santiago? Find out later!