Wednesday, December 12, 2012


We had asked Pedro before we left how good the roads were from Ollyangue to Calama.  His answer is one we now get as a pat answer for any road in South America, “the road is good!”  Actually, the road was awful, again miles and miles of wash boards and dust.  We also ran into our familiar friend, the perfunctory stop for road construction.
Road Construction Stop
Waiting for the blasting to end.

Finally we reached pavement and the jarring stopped about 30 miles outside Calama.  I made the comment as we rode into Calama, that it could be any town in west Texas.  Windy, dusty but good gas stations, a mall, numerous stores and all the roads were paved.  There were lots of nice hotels as well.

But we were in for a shock, unlike many west Texas towns, Calama is EXPENSIVE!  The first hotel we stopped at wanted $220 US a night for a room with two beds.  After searching for 2 plus hours we eventually settled on a Hostel (which was more like a hotel) for $187 US, ouch!

During the ride to Calama, my speedometer went out, which is not too bad.  But also so did my cruise.  We were getting ready to do a long stretch of highway, so I ended up tearing out my electrical for the cruise/speedometer to find that a wire had vibrated to the point of breaking.  After a quick strip and fix, it was working again.

That night Chuck and I walked the streets of Calama and found another marching band playing for a dance troop that seemed to be dancing as a benefit, although we could not figure out what for.  It was colorful and I found myself tapping my toe and smiling while the young, middle age and old men and women danced in the plaza.  

Dinner was pretty basic although Chuck did seem to have a problem with his order of papa fritas (French fries).  It took almost a full hour to get them, even though he asked about their status several times.  Some fairly gruff looking biker types came in and because they ordered papa fritas; as well, he eventually got his fries.  J

La Serena
The next day, we were up early and rode through the Atacama desert.  It was about 500 miles, and was I glad to have my cruise control working.  There was nothing but rocks, road, sand and wind.  Not even a lot of traffic.  We eventually made La Serena and again this turned out to be very nice, mostly touristy.  The hostel that Chuck found was very nice and if we weren’t in such a hurry to get to Santiago to get the bikes serviced, it may have been a great place to spend a little time.

We asked for a recommendation for dinner and the proprietor in broken English said three blocks up and to the left, I forget the name.  We followed directions and … nothing!  So I asked.  The soldier in Spanish sorta indicated we had missed it back a block, so we went back, not just one but two.  Then I asked a guy with a guitar who looked like he just got through playing somewhere.  He said, in broken English, oh, you missed it, go back a block.  So we did ... again … nothing, nada, zip!

Eventually we found a café on the side of the road, had dinner and a beer; while watching everyone leave the walking mall.

We were up early again the next morning and off to Santiago.

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