December 29, 2012 GMT
Clipped Wings

On Christmas eve we watched our bike fork seal being repaired on the roadside by the only bike 'mechanic' in town, with the aid of a hammer and screwdriver. General opinion was not to attempt the job ourselves, as we did not have the proper tools or workshop environment. We have plenty of screwdrivers, but obviously the big hammer was our missing specialist tool.

Then we saw Father Christmas ride past on his sledge while doing the samba (he speaks Spanish as well).

On Christmas morning one guest cooked pancakes for everyone at breakfast and Santa left a goodie bag for each of us.


We checked the fork seal, it was still oil tight. We had viable transport again.

Plan B about getting a bus into Peru was ditched. We decided that if the bike could not go in, then neither would we. After dossing around on the beach body boarding, over Christmas and boxing day, we packed all our things and told the hostel owner we were leaving. "We'll go north, south, or be back here later".

Arica, looking north towards Peru. Just 20kms away.

Our first stop was the main customs office in town.

My Spanish is good enough now to be able to explain what we wanted to do, get the bike into Peru with the authorisation letter, and ask if it could be done or if they could help.

"No", "you need the person named on the document to be with you". That was it, no more.

He went on to explain that there is an agreement with Bolivia and Argentina to allow passage on notary letters, but not Peru. So many stolen vehicles go there that Peru changed the law.

The upshot was that they would not even let us leave Chile across that border with the bike, as Peru would not accept it.

Game over, our wings have been clipped.

We would not continue any further north. The mistake was all mine 2 months ago, when we could not get the bike documents changed to my name that day; I should have started the longer process, then we could have collected the documents here in Arica. My impatience to get on the road has finally caught us out.

The Colca Canyon in Peru can wait for another day, another trip. Even though it was the main target I listed at the start of the 'plan'.

So it was south across the desert to Iquique,

On the way to Iquique there was a moment of 'deja vu', as the fuel went to reserve and we pulled over in the same place as 2 years earlier to pour the spare fuel in the bike. Arica to Iquique is 330kms, no gas stations in between.

Iquique, another town with beaches and surf, to sit down and think about what to do. Our problem? Chile is the most western and most expensive country in South America on our trip, our budget does not extend to 5 more weeks here.

We could go back to Bolivia, but after a month there, and with the rainy season in full flow but not the petrol, we don't fancy that.

Argentina ? To get to any bits we would like to see involves riding across a lot of flat, hot pampas. We have seen enough of that.

Wild camping is an option to reduce costs, we still have the tent but it's a pity that the sleeping bags and mats are 200k north of Santiago. But we have been assured by 2 cyclists heading north that the beach is warm and the sand is soft for the next 300k south.

Iquique, lodged between the Pacific and the desert.

Chile Pictures - Part2

Posted by Bruce Porter at December 29, 2012 01:05 AM GMT

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