Rally Dakar and back…

So we left Santiago on Thursday with a group of Chilenean motorbikers. The plan was to get to the Argentinean border before nightfall where the rally dakar participants would enter into Chile the next morning. So far so good – unfortunately, one of the bikes suffered a puncture and we lost more than 1.5hours fixing it, with the result that it got mighty by the time we reached the foot of the Andes. An amazing view! I had tears of joy in my eyes seeing this gigantic mountains almost raising vertically in front of us.

 Riding a motorbike is not much fun, particular in Chile! So we stopped 20km short of our planned destination for the day and stayed the night in an utility hangar that was used to store salt for the winter season. It was a pretty cold and windy night I tell you.

 Anyway, next mornign we went all the way up to the border. The Authorities even set up a separate border check-point for the Dakar. Good for us, so we had a very close look at the participants and all of them had to drive past us!

 We then followed the rally towards Valpairiso, but what we experienced was someting I couldnt have even imagined in my wildest dreams. Both sides of the road were lined with crounds of people – all yelling, singing and swinging Chilenian flags… When we came to Los Andes the traffic grinded to a halt so people came up to us to take pictures of us, tap us on the shoulder and cheering! Ok, I admit it was like cheating, because they thought that we were rally participants, too, but who cares. King for a day! The best rock star feeling ever.

 In Valpariso we stayed in the student flat of one of the bikers – they call him the Black Panther… Remember the toilet from ¨Trainspotting¨? That was exactly how the bathroom looked like!!! Serious! But hey, it was a night´s accomodation for free and I you are on the road that means you can spend your cash on other things – like Pisco Sour! Not sure what it is, but the Chilenians drink it like water. Yummy. Anyway, the town is amazing – a little bit like Wellington – just way much larger. Great seafood and cool architecture.

 Oh, for the wind team at Connell Wagner – I was very surprised that there are not any wind turbines around here! Super windy, nicely coming from the west. Not so much fun on the bike when you riding north or south though! Would make a nice site visit, too 😉

 Our next stop was Illapo – a pretty uneventful place frankly speaking and one of the local told us that the Dakar was the most exciting thing around here since 100 years or so… Hence people going mad and having the biggest fiesta!!! We got up at 5am just to be there in time to see the rally take off. These guys are just crazy! they drive and ride on dirt roads as if it would be a German Motorway. Incredible. Swallowed a lot of dust, but it was so worth it.

 Now I got the first South-American 1000km under my belt. Not as bad as I thought. Well, I am still alive! Only one near miss so far 😉 In comparison the American lady we were riding with came off her bike twice! Poor Anne. Luck that she didnt get hurt. Now lets how that my rear tyre lasts until Bunos Aires! At the moment I am back in Santiago and trying to plan the next step of my trip. I am hoping to stich together another group of riders to go down south with to Patagonia. There are a number of options – rinding with a Canadian, Chilenean or Israely. Will keep you posted…

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