|Distance||86.37 kms||53.44 miles|
|Climbed||424 meters||1,391 feet|
|Ride time (hours)||6.06||-|
|Avg speed||14.2 kph||-|
|Distance||4,547.86 kms||2,826.00 miles|
|Climbed||45,299 meters||148,619 feet|
|Ride time (hours)||344.08||-|
Thursday, January 31st, 2013
I woke up early feeling surprisingly good. I figured I would be a wreck after the effort of the last few days. I shaved and got ready to leave, then talked for a while longer with the French guy from Besançon. Both he and his girlfriend went for a swim in the pool first thing in the morning. I was impressed. We talked for a while about Quebec, he had worked in Montreal on several occasions. He even has a cousin that married a québecoise from Lac St Jean... I said my goodbyes and went to the main square for a coffee. I figured I would take it easy today and just head down to La Serena.
The ride is mostly descent, I had the wind in my face again but not nearly as strong as yesterday. The ride was uneventful. I stopped at a place for a few empanadas. When I ask what's in the empanadas in Chile they look at me like I have two heads before saying: meat! I guess the empanadas in Chile always contain the same mix of meat, onions, and olives. They aren't bad but they aren't that good either. I prefer the selection in Argentina: they have ham and cheese, just cheese, meat, and a few other varieties. So I'll stop asking what's in empanadas while in Chile...
La Serena is a good sized city. I followed the main road through town and bumped into what I needed: a Sodimac (like a Home Depot) where I picked up a bottle of fuel for the stove, and a bank to get cash. I rode down to the beach just to see it. While I was looking at the water a couple of girls came up to me and asked if they could interview me for a tourism project they are working on. They filmed me with their iPhone while they asked me questions about where I was from, what I was doing, what I thought of the tourism offices in Chile and what I used them for, etc... Their project is to make tourist information available for download to smart phones so that people don't have to go to an office and talk to a person; they can just get it automatically on their smartphone. All well and good, but I told them I prefer the office as I don't like smartphones and am travelling pretty much disconnected except for when I get WiFi somewhere on my laptop.
I had planned on staying in La Serena but I didn't like the vibe that much. It reminds me of Viña del Mar: a big city that turns into a jet-set touristy beach spot in the summer. I headed north out of town along the coast. The landscape quickly turned to desert with very little development. This road, ruta 5, is the only connection between northern and central Chile so it is chock full of trucks. I was glued to the mirror the whole time. I climbed up over a few big hills and after about 15 kilometers I had had enough and decided to camp when I saw a dirt road heading down towards the water. At first I thought there was no one down there, but as I descended I could see one shack that had people in it. I was too far away for them to see me so I kept on until I found a great spot overlooking the water. I cooked dinner and decided to skip setting up the tent, betting that the fog wouldn't roll in tonight. At dusk a herd of goats came my way heading towards the shack. They stood there looking at me for a few minutes then went around me. 15 minutes later a bunch of horses came from the same direction. When they saw me they stopped and waited for a good half-hour before they got up the courage to go around me as well.
The stars were beautiful, and as luck would have it the fog never rolled in; I had a comfortable night's sleep.