We were sad to leave Vallenar. Our host and her daughter (Jennifer) at the Hotel Takia were very kind and hospitable.
Vallenar is not a town you would probably choose to visit, but it will be one of the highlights of this trip. And after such an interesting time in Vallenar, we left hoping for an uneventful day of riding; and that is what we got.
The ride gets more beautiful as each day passes. For the next three days we will be riding through the Atacama desert. The landscape constantly changes, making the scenery more interesting with each passing mile. Within an hour, the view can change from rugged gorges to scattered lava rock and then to salt flats. There is nothing green or living. We noticed when we arrived in Anafagasta there were no bugs on our windshields. As clean as when we left that morning.
At our first stop for fuel we met six guys from Argentina who were returning from Columbia, where they had purchased six Harley Davidson’s and were taking them back to Argentina.
The bikes were old (but very classic). What will take us only a week to cover had taken them 40 days to ride. They were in great spirits and excited to be HOG (Harley-Davidson Owners Group) members.
The highlight of today came after 8 hours of driving 75+ MPH across the desert. In the distance you could see the “Hand of God”, or as some call it, the “Hand in the Desert”.
We had to navigate rocks and rough gravel to make our way over to the hill it is perched on. We took pictures and rested awhile. It is an awesome sight to see.
We arrived in Anafagasta late in the the day. A festival was being held near the shore in the center of the city. Anafagasta is a port city. There are no real beaches, mostly lava rock lines the shore. It is a beautiful city with plenty of nice hotels to choose from.
The city reminded me of the west Italian coast. The houses sit across hillsides. They are colorful and inviting. This was the first city where we have seen large shopping centers.
We had not eaten much today and were very hungry. Can you tell from this picture where Gary wanted to eat? When you are a long way from home there is something special about those golden arches. (McDonalds was a mad house. There were no lines. People pressing against each other to get to the counter. It took thirty minutes to place our order.)