For a week we planned and prepared for the Lagoonas route, gathering information from the tour companies around town, most of which thought we were crazy. We eventually happened upon Andrez, a motorcycle tour guide who, at the price of a coffee, told us everything we needed to know. The route was frequented mostly by 4×4 tours that left from San Pedro and took 3 days through the route to Uyuni, our intended destination. The 4×4’s travelled at much greater speeds than it was possible for us and so going with them was out of the question however, Andrez advised that they would carry fuel for us for a small fee, something that would no doubt be invaluable out there. Going on more of Andrez’s advice we returned to Calama twice to arrange for spare parts and tools, I paid a visit to a welders yard to fabricate some new panniers and soon we were looking almost professional.

A welder hard at work fabricating my new paniers

Pimp my 125

Dutch Chris, A girl that Frank and I had met way back in Southern Argentina arrived in San Pedro while we were there and it was a pleasure to have a third person in our midst, it gave us an excuse to do some things non preparatory related and with an estranged Brazilian girl named Talita also joining us, we rode out to some nearby salt lagoons for a relaxing time floating around in the salty water. The off road route out to the lagoons was a real challenge, especially with a Brazilian clinging to the back of my bike and I quickly discovered that patches of soft sand would be our biggest foe, throwing the back wheel out as if I possessed no control over my motorcycle.

Chris and Frank on some more agreeable terrain

stopping for a dip

At the lagoons things took a surreal turn as Talita, the free spirit that she was, ditched her oppressive clothes and sought out the freedom of nudity before Chris, Frank and I, her surprised audience who happily permitted her freedom beneath hidden childish grins. It was a day not to forget.

In my defense, she asked us to take photos.

One of the two pools known as Los Ojos

We had convinced, some would say coerced, Dutch Chris into taking a 4×4 tour along the route we were following and subsequently carry a bag of non-essential items that belonged to us leaving us space for water, fuel and warm blankets for the chilly heights of the altiplano. It was a weight off our minds as well as our bikes and for that we would owe Chris a debt of gratitude.

Riding back from Calama

Our final night in San Pedro became our final chance to star gaze at the wealth of beauty that illuminated its skies each night. I had never seen the stars like this, in there millions and strung along the milky way from horizon to horizon like a highway in the sky. Far from the towns lights shooting stars streaked across the sky like fireflies. In that moment we felt truly tiny beneath such majesty, a feeling that would stick with us as we ventured into the vast unforgiving desert and high into the Andes.

The milky way seen from San Pedro