The next morning, I stop one last time by Valle de la Luna, at piedra Coyote to take the “must take” photo! May I bring to your attention that taking such a shot by yourself is a bit more… Challenging… Since it’s a bit more complicated, I think to myself I should take a photo of Minnie there instead of me. But she is so afraid, she runs to hide under the truck! It’s been a loooong time since I laughed that hard !….
Northern Chile is almost exclusively desert, save for a few oasis.
Literally thousands of kilometers of desert to drive through at 80 – 90 km/h while entertaining… Minnie. You guessed it? I’m lonely. Time is long and the scenery is average. In short, I’m bored.
Fortunately, I have short and mid-term goals.
I would like to meet Juan, a nephew of my uncle Luciano, himself from Chile. Juan is a truck driver and works for a lithium mine… I think…
My timing is good and I land into the small, sleepy little town where he stays during his 10 day work sequences just as he finishes his 12 hour shift. We meet and visit for a while over a good dinner, courtesy of Juan himself. Unfortunately, he has to retire early as he needs to be at work tomorrow by… 4 am. Maybe we’ll meet again in Santiago where he lives.
Thanks Juan, good to meet you!
Next stop: Antofagasta.
THE big attraction of Anto is called “La Portada”.
On the other side of the peninsula… Not too bad either… But no one looks this way, hypnotized as they are by the Portada…
And here’s what struck me the most about Antofagasta. The McDonalds’. It’s been a while since I seen one! How unfortunate! I just had lunch at La Portada… Really out of luck these days…
Here, on the outskirts of town, I see a lot of those tents / shelters. These folks are not on vacation and camping at the beach. They live there.
Countries go by, poor people remain.
The road is long in the desert.
And often times, it goes inland where there’s not much to see or do and that can get really boring… And put you to sleep.
Next stop, totally improvised: Playa negra.
Our own little private beach. Just for Minnie and me.
Nice, isn’t it?
Never trust looks. It’s so easy to take the right pictures.
Here’s a different point of view of this same beach. Something publicity flyers won’t show you.
Never trust pictures, not even my pictures!
I kinda dig the muffler shot tho…
Another day, another beach. This one in Taltal, a bit cleaner but covered in pieces of glass…
But Minnie doesn’t care.
Pan de azucar national park is the next destination on the list. And here’s the road to get there…
…Getting out of here!
Looks like biblical rains fell in the area a little while ago, literally washing away this road segment.
Fortunately, there’s another road to the park, this one intact. But, as far as 20 kms before the park entrance, I can already see signs clearly stating pets are not allowed in the park.
Well, tough luck for them, here’s another beautiful beach just for us. And free too!
Aaaah… Nothing like a nice hot shower on the beach!
Yeah, all this is all very nice and everything, the road, the cool beaches, the nice photos and all, but me, I’m bored to hell. Don’t feel like checking out any of that. There’s just nothing that impresses me, that inspires me anymore. It’s all just boring. I mean, I know folks who travel alone for years and are comfortable with that. Like my buddy Jil. But Jil is used to doing that. He’s been travelling alone for almost 10 years.
Me, I won’t be doing it for 10 years. For sure.
I’m lonely and bored. Days are long, evenings are worst. Fortunately, I have Minnie with me. Always there for me.
Here we are in the Elqui river valley. Probably the prettiest and largest oasis of this immense desert.
I acknowledge my good fortune nonetheless. It is spectacular! Here grows the majority of grapes used to make Chilean pisco.
Don’t tell anybody I told you this but… Peruvian pisco is better…Sshhhhhhtttt….
Here we can see they grow the precious grapes where they can. And that’s as far high as they can up the side of those mountains. Because they need to take advantage of the areas’ perfect climate as much as they can.
Back down closer to the ocean; aweful!
In Coquimbo, near La Serena (which is a nice little town, by the way), they have let the people build houses on this peninsula until the hills were literally covered with buildings. It looks horrible.
When I get to Valparaiso, near Santiago the capital, I’m going to meet with Catherine (Frances niece), Gonzalo, her Chilean husband and their two kids at Gonzalos’ parents place.
But, on the way to Valpo, I have quite the surprise. I get a totally unexpected email. It’s Liu. Of the two girls I met in San Pedro de Atacama, she was the quiet one. She lives in Santiago, knows the Valparaiso area pretty well and offers to meet me there and take me on a tour around town.
” ??????? ”
”Euuuuhhhh, yyyyeah… I, I , I suppose we could do that… Mmmm…Why not? Yeah, good idea…Yeah. Thanks!”
To be continued in the next installment…