January 23, 2002 GMT
Chile - the desert hand and condor sighting

Dale in Northern Chile by the "Hand in the Desert"

We stopped at the giant hand in the desert, a huge concrete hand, raising straight up about 200 yards off the road. We were taking some pictures and eating a donut, when Frank said, "Well, here comes one of our compadres...on a KLR." It was Mariola Cichon. She was heading for Ushuaia also, then up through Brazil, Uruguay, then over to New Zealand, India, and maybe Africa...


1/20/02 Officially - we’ve been 1 calendar month on the road - 10 countries achieved, 2 to go. We are in Arica, Chile, and it is wonderful weather...shorts and short sleeves. Got up @ 6:00 a.m. and the streets were being swept by hand everywhere, never saw a cleaner town.

Frank and I really enjoyed the ‘walking’ streets (no motor traffic), outdoor vending everywhere, some of the café’s tables and chairs extended into the street, nice feeling,...very modern with Internet cafés in abundance...we got our clothes washed...feels great!

Met Stephen and Victor on bicycles, stopped to talk a little. Stephen was from Mexico, near Puebla, and Victor was from Germany. They had left Ushuaia over 2 months ago. We gave them big fresh plums that they devoured.

Bicyclists headed north towards Prudhoe Bay

As we entered another province of Chile, we were stopped and the 4 plums we had left were to be confiscated, or we could consume them...we consumed them. It’s the first time I can ever remember being forced to eat lunch. Frank said, as we were leaving ‘I wonder if they will want to know where we defecate so they can check for contamination We went about 200 miles out of Arica to the coastal city of Iquique;...beautiful, was like Highway 1 on the California coast. Stopped at a seaside restaurant, had wonderful pascada and café con leche.

About 20 miles south of the city we kept entering what the signs said were ‘Zona de Neblina’ (fog). Traveling on this road was dreamy...massive sand piles, thousands of feet tall.

I’m dreaming about Kath giving me a haircut (with electric shaver) and I’m putting my arms around her. I’m dreaming of having breakfast on our deck, ..it’s summertime. Hmmmm.

I think back about the ‘sideswipe’ incident. And then I start to think about perching on that cliff that rainy dark night...how terrified I was getting, observing the car headlights far below me. The beams would sweep across below me, as vehicles wound along the mountain road below me (gives me the heebie jeebies again!).

Lots of tent campers along the seashore, most of them bunched up...would be groups of 6 or up to 20 tents huddling together...for security, I suppose.

We stopped at the giant hand in the desert, a huge concrete hand, raising straight up about 200 yards off the road. We were taking some pictures and eating a donut, when Frank said, ‘Well, here comes one of our compadres...on a KLR.’ It was Mariola Cichon. She was heading for Ushuaia also, then up through Brazil, Uruguay, then over to New Zealand, India, and maybe Africa.

With Mariola, we traveled about 350 miles today, the last 72k was rock and dirt...rough.

Frank Tabor & Mariola Cichon

Mariola took us to a resort beach area, Pan El Azucar (sugar loaf)...this was gorgeous. We had pascada, rice, salada (tomatoes and onions), and latte.

1/23/02 It’s getting light...about 3:45 Omaha time. Good sleeping...by the sea, with the waves gently hitting the beach. There are 3 of us in separate tents. We’re supposed to have breakfast with Mariola, but I doubt that will happen, because I don’t think the restaurant will be open.

Frank and I are ready to hit the road. My knee kept me awake for a while last night...I’m disappointed that it’s hurting still; it’s been a month and it’s swollen and feverish. I bought some more ‘Cipro’ in Arica, in case the swelling started moving down my leg again. I think we’re about 500 miles north of Santiago. Well, the restaurant was open, great daysayuno.

Note from Mariola:
“It is amazing how we, members of one big family, find each other in the strangest circumstances. I had a great time with you and Frank. Thanks for sharing stories and your time with me. I hope your journey will take you to many wonderful places, without any unpleasant surprises. Wish you the best of luck...and hope to see you on the road!’ Mariola Cichon www.rideoftheheart.com mariolacichon@hotmail.com”

Saw my first condor yesterday...he was soaring toward me and when he turned away from me, I saw his distinctive head...those expansive wings...magnifico!

About 12 or 15 miles N or La Sarena, yesterday, we were inland just a little, but riding a few thousand feet up, and ‘my gosh’ off to our right, on a mountain range between us and the sea...there were white, heavy-looking clouds pouring over the mountain like a waterfall, and coming down the mountainside toward us. What a sight and feeling. Right then, I realized I was getting cold...the temperature was dropping rapidly, about 25 degrees in just 6 to 8 minutes.

We had a nice dinner last night, carne and arroz (beef and rice) with fresh tomatoes and cucumbers. Frank was in more pain than usual...asked if I minded if he rested longer, and to leave later tomorrow (Thursday).

And Thursday is our malaria pill day. We haven’t had the slightest threat by the so-called prevalent maladies and diseases or infections; just lucky, I guess. Traveling through the villages, we look for correos (post offices), none...and no carriers or delivery vehicles.

Well, we did it again...went on reserve, and worried for 30 miles, and out of the desert, a mirage, a gas station...no, it’s a trick...yes!! A gas pump! I’ll be damned!

I am so excited, and we’re here, about to enter Santiago. Like Frank says, we’re about to enter our 3rd and final phase. The ride today, and getting this far, is euphoria for me. I feel energetic and excited to continue to Ushuaia.

Posted by Dale Thornton at January 23, 2002 12:00 AM GMT
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