Day 2 was mostly boring, I went out to a French café with the girls for breakfast but ended up going back to the place I was staying to get my school work done. That night though we went out to the beach to watch the sunset and I got some amazing shots on the GoPro. Better yet, I learned yoga and went swimming in the ocean which somehow warmed up significantly over the last 450km from Viña del Mar. It ended casually, sipping on piscola and reminiscing on our semester experiences, what our travel plans where until we went home for Christmas. I fell asleep on the couch again, though this time realized it was a foldout and actually managed to sleep through the night.
Which leads me to the much more exciting part, day 3.
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We woke up around 7am to go on a boat tour of a couple islands off the shore two hours north. We were promised penguins and dolphins live in action, and honestly I don’t know what is more exciting than that. So, the girls got ready and started to head to the bus while I got my keys to start my days trip.
Wait, my keys.
Where are my keys?
Are they on the table? No. Under the sofa? No. In my bags? Nope not their either…
I frantically searched the apartment for maybe an hour, going through all my luggage and practically cleaning the place for the owner in the process. Nada.
Feeling pretty defeated, I retraced my steps from the night before to the beach, asked the groundskeepers, and of course went through my luggage twice more. At that point I was ready to call a locksmith, hand him my wallet, close my eyes, and wait for everything to be fixed. Short on money, I decided to head back to the beach one last time, if not to find my keys then to drown my terrible luck in manjar and brownie ice cream sold on the boardwalk.
As I was about to turn around and head back to call the locksmith, out of the corner of my eye I see a red glint in the sand. I do a double take and see maybe 2 centimetres of red metal poking out of the sand, and practically dive at it, furiously digging for my only shot at seeing penguins and dolphins in their natural habitat that day. God they’re such majestic creatures. The way they hobble around in huddled masses, protecting their young. Or how the dolphins swim alongside the boat, playfully catching fish tossed in the air, all whilst definitely not judging us humans for capturing the moment with selfie sticks.
But anyways. Right. Keys. See this is how I lost them in the first place, I’m easily distracted…
So there they were, all thanks to the one red key I had on a ring of 4. I triumphantly held them up, make a loud, incomprehensible cheer of relief, and ran back to the apartment.
I was already an hour late, so I wasted no time getting my bike packed and hitting the road. Except for that one selfie over the water. Or the one of me chasing wild donkeys.
Or the one in the middle of a deserted valley. Okay you know what, in hindsight I wasted a lot of time, and I ended up paying for it. After veering off the panamerican highway and rolling down a bumpy gravel road for an hour, I made it to the fishing village to meet the girls anddddd the boat had just pulled off 15 minutes prior.
Barely 3 days in and I already feel like the worlds against me.
Well, not letting myself get down, I put the thought of magnificent penguins and unadulterated dolphin fun aside.
I made small chat with some heavily accented fishermen and got one of them to siphon gas into my bike, fueling me up just enough to get about half way to my final destination of the day, Copiapó.
I headed back in the direction I once came, got back on the panamerican highway, and headed for the beginning of the Atacama desert.
I first passed through the old mountains, the roads carved into the side revealing a plethora of unique, vibrantly coloured rock below. The landscape revealed a rainbow hidden beneath the earth, the cliff faces ranged in all colours from dark red, to hues of purple and blue. Before long the hills faded behind me and I was in the vast wasteland known as the Atacama. Now it’s a beautiful kind of wasteland don’t get me wrong, reminiscent of Mars over anything else. Yet, I’d been here before for 4 days and there’s only so much desert I can handle. My next 3 hours I road through the never ending horizon without the slightest change in grade or velocity. The one pleasant surprise I found along the way was a bloom of desert flowers. Being the driest place on the entire planet, blooms like this occur maybe once every 7 years and I was lucky enough to pass right through it. I pulled off to the side of the road, found an opening in the barbed wire fence lining the highway, and took a joy ride through the meadow.
I think the most profound thing I realized today was how big the world really is. You know how when you think of space and all the stars supposedly out there, then try to fathom it in some comprehensible terms, you’re ultimately left lost and confused? Or how the world seems so much smaller thanks to things like planes and Facebook? Well, besides for walking (which no thanks I’ll let the next guy do that trip), riding a motorcycle for such distances really puts everything back into perspective. You’re out there in the elements intensely focused on everything around you and it just makes you appreciate the magnitude of our planet that much more.
Which brings me to my second realization of the day: wind really sucks when your car doesn’t have a windshield. Or four wheels. And your car is actually a motorcycle without a windshield and on two wheels.
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It knocks you around and fights with you every inch you take forward, every slight acceleration you make to get out of it just that much quicker. Luckily, there was a significant portion of the trip with little to no wind at all, which kept my spirits high and motorcycle rolling.
I finally arrived in Copiapó and realized I hadn’t made any plans for lodging that night. I stopped at a couple of what google maps told me were hostels, but all ended up being expensive hotels, and settled in the 3rd one too exhausted to look any further. So I’m here now, typing this off the 3G on my phone in the middle of the desert, because of course there’s no wifi, and you know what? I’m having an amazing time. All the crap that’s happened today only adds to the experiences and stories I’ll have for later. Now I’m going to Antofagasta and out of this damn desert once and for all..