The city of Santiago

At last the day had arrived, Franklin and I stood on a Santiago sidewalk beside our 2 shiny machines strapping our large travel bags to the back quickly shedding non essentials as a blind street dweller confusingly guessed what it was we cast his way.

The week prior had seen us buy our bikes from the Chilean Auto trader, Franklins a shiny black Honda 125 with a boxy “tron” kind of look and mine a metallic Blue Suzuki 125 sporting more of a classic curved style. All the painfully necessary paperwork had been made easy with the help of Wara, a girl Frank had met and recruited into our  little quest, she became our Chilean Chaperon and good friend.

Understandably, with his sense of direction somewhat like one of those wind up walk & flip fluffy dogs, Franklin led us out of the city and after an hour or so we found the Pan American and bid farewell to Santiago.

Rough friends outside Santiago

Our trip was underway. Day one of a two month journey that would see us traverse deserts, mountain ranges, jungles and cities. 10,000 Kilometres to Bogota, Colombia and my arse was killing me after just an hour. The road was a three-lane motorway with exits indicating the nearby towns we were passing through. Selecting one at random we left the Pan Am and searched instead for a place to stay in La Ligua yet however we quickly discovered that La Ligua was seldom accustomed to international visitors and lacked in hotels. Vetoing Frank’s idea of camping beside what appeared to be a crack den we then opted for the towns only motel but we were soon to find out that  “Motels” in south America were a whole different ball game as we lay within the privacy of “the Love stop” under a mirrored ceiling upon a very questionable bed spread, dreaming of a comfortable crack den somewhere.

Over the next couple of days the three-lane motorway shrunk to a single lane highway with enormous oncoming trucks thus teaching us a physics lesson as our tiny 125’s were blown around the road, no room for Suzuki’s within their displaced air.

The clouds that lurked around Santiago dispersed and left only untouched blue skies and the sparse vegetation on the surrounding hills were replaced with dusty dunes. The high winds near the capital became small dust devils dancing in the desert, we were entering the Atacama. Finally we arrived at Caltera where Wara was waiting for us, staying with friends in the charming seaside town. It became a perfect place for us to rest for a couple of days and with half of Chile under our belts; lazy days at the beach became a well-deserved treat.

Into the Atacama