The Promised Land
The Atacama Desert

October 9 & 10, 2017

Planted firmly in Chile we started cycling through a beautiful volcano route that continued to amaze us

What happened…

Andrew writes: Another day of cycling on the moon. We tried to leave Ollague early in the morning, but with the time change (another hour ahead), we didn’t end up leaving until 10am or so. Still, it was a pleasant enough ride for about two hours when we stopped for lunch on the side of the road. There wasn’t a lot of traffic, and the asphalt was in mint condition. We passed by a few smaller salt flats, and the reds, yellows, browns and whites of the landscape are so beautiful to gaze upon. Maybe not so much like riding on the moon, perhaps Mars?

After lunch though the wind picked up, as it seems to do around these parts, and we fought through a headwind for much of the afternoon which wasn’t a lot of fun. I had pinpointed a “town” on my map that I thought might offer some shelter, or a store, or both. Instead it was a small Borax mining camp, and although we might have asked to camp behind the church, instead we found a nice secluded, sheltered camping spot just past town about half-way up a hill. We might have gone further, except Amanda got a flat tire halfway up the hill, which she had been pushing up anyways because the wind was so strong. Ugh. What a way to end the day!

I was really looking forward to a 100km downhill today, the stuff that dreams are made of. We were flying, all morning long, until right about lunchtime when the wind kicked in. We thought we could tough it out, even saying no to a passing truck driver who offered us a lift. Whoops! By the end of the day, we had reached Chiu Chiu and we were out of energy, food, money, and will to live. We scrounged up enough money to buy a few pieces of bread and then decided to try our hand at hitchhiking on the outskirts of town. Several of the locals had the same idea and it took awhile before a passing truck (of French cycle tourists) stopped and took us into Calama. We hit up a bank, and then settled into an hospedaje for a few days of R&R.

Amanda writes: Volcanoes and salt deserts. The views were amazing and so different from anything we have ridden so far. The first day we passed dried up lakes that were now deserts and a couple of them still held a glimpse of water. Other lakes were peppered with flamingoes. Apparently they mate in these parts. It was bizarre to see such a dry barren land with some animals. The terrain wasn’t that hard over the two days but the wind sure was a bugger.

As Andrew mentioned after 95 km of cycling, the additional 30 km to Calama just didn’t seem possible. The winds were so strong. We found a nice hotel in Chiu Chiu but they didn’t take credit card and our dilemma of no bank machines to get Chilean pesos was still haunting us. And so we decided that if we couldn’t get a ride we would pitch our tent and try riding the 30 km in the morning on empty stomaches. While it wasn’t ideal, it wasn’t life threatening. We both have enough meat on our bones to survive. And fortunately it didn’t come to that and with the help of some French tourists, we were off to Calama.

You may recall Andrew and I have been having challenges for months now, but I’ve always held faith that we would come out on the other side, because we always do. We’ve been out of sync for so long that I had started to wonder if we would ever find our way back to each other. These last few days for some reason our spirits have lifted and I’ve felt a shift. While it’s far from perfect I feel like things are swinging back to the right direction. I just hope it continues to swing so we can get back to the foundation of our marriage and have some fun.

The aerial view of our rides:

Today’s Photographs

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The Promised Land
The Atacama Desert