Sunrise comes late this time of year here in Northern Chile. I’m up and moving with it still a little chilly before the dry air has a chance to warm up. I push my bike out of the hostel lobby onto the street. And begin my daily inspections of checking the oil level and tire pressure. While lubricating the chain I notice it’s getting a little loose, I’ll have to adjust it at the end of todays ride. I turn the engine over and it roars to life, something I’m always thrilled to hear every morning, as if one day it will just decide enough is enough. As it slowly warms up I take this time to decide how much layering I’ll need for the ride. I rarely guess correctly and inevitably end up stopping on the side of the road to add or remove clothing. I then head back to my room and pack up my things, intricately placing everything in its correct place in the duffel bag like a game of Tetris. Strap the bag onto the bike, turn on my new playlist then go to work.
The ride from Arica to Iquique is 192 miles of smooth, straight highway cutting through the Atacama desert. With the coast on my right and lifeless desert to my left and no stopping points along the way, this makes for fast but boring riding. Plenty of time for me to think because there’s so little time already for that. But yesterday I had a tough decision to make. I decided with the guidance from fellow overland travelers and the weather forecast to forgo Bolivia in exchange for more time in Patagonia. It was not easy for me to pass up such a place, but since I have now booked my flights home I have a deadline to meet. Anyways, I’ve had enough of the high elevation and rain storms, which continue to flood the roads of Bolivia. So, for the time being, I will enjoy this dry heat.
Hit some beaches and explore the Atacama before getting into the colder weather.