Monday, 20 January 2014

276 More Dakar

Friday 17th January 2014  
Miles Today 0 Total 35,616
Our second day in La Serena was spent basically in hibernation.  We went out for a walk and a bit of food, but we both basically slept most of the day, and caught up with the Dakar when we could.  Coverage is better here in Chile, but still hard to decipher, so we have relied on the internet when we had the chance.

Saturday 18th January 2014  
Miles Today 287 Total 35,903
We set off this morning, after a very disappointing breakfast. If I ever see another bit of ham and cheese on a toasted stale bun, it will be too soon.  We were aiming for catching a spectator stage of the rally, but our first stop was petrol.  Now I have followed rallying before, Colin McRae was my all time hero, and I spent a lot of time traipsing around Wales and Cheshire watching out for him, but this was unbelievable.  On going into the petrol station, the trucks were there.  There were hoards of locals, all hanging around, taking photo's of the vehicles, quads, bikes, cars and lorries, and then us, on our little old Wallace. Kids clamored round, asking to sit on the bike and have their photo taken and then taking ours with Wallace, it was quite surreal,  but absolutely pulled you into the atmosphere.

Clearly we were just tourists close up but the locals didn't care. They just loved it all.

Fill her up son!
 Along the journey, we passed several competitors and these guys are a bit special, they are Mark and Susan Jones and they were on route to their next race stage.  Obviously we were waving and pointing to our union jacks and the number plate, looking like complete stalking idiots, but it was nice to get a wave back from them and an acknowledgement that there were other Brits on the road. They were probably just being nice, but we were very proud of them.  What they didn't know, was that Ray had made a Union Jack Flag up and we had waited until 7pm for them to come in at Iquique.(picture on previous blog).

You can see Susan waving, don't think it is a rude sign.

I'm taking the easy route home.

Our first stop to watch some of the competitors race past. Nani Roma, the eventual car winner.

This young guy was Austrian and sailed home in 12th place, well done.

It was weird following, and overtaking them on the main route.
It was the funniest day today, I  know that the spectators were just waving at everything but I think I had my 15 minutes of fame today.  We were scooting on the road to make it to Valparaiso, so that we could end up at the podium, but everyone was waving at us and cheering, and so quite happily, as I am normally the shy and retiring sort, I was embracing the moment and waving back to everyone, even those who were probably just having a scratch, but it didn't matter, I was empathizing with the competitors, yeah right, I was giving my royal wave, when I noticed, that the spectators, were actually watching just behind me,    Mr quad man was there, getting mobbed at toll booths, in fact, the crowd nearly knocked us off of our bike to get a good picture of him, oh well back to earth with a bump, I like the quiet life.........
The real star of the show.
Having booked into our hostal, it was okay. It was a student residence normally, but apparently, here, certainly in Chile, this is the most expensive time to come.  I don't know how it all works throughout the other South American countries, but here, it is now summertime, and as of mid December, the kids are on their summer holidays, which covers Christmas, but they are off until March. When they go back to school, they only get a couple of breaks throughout the rest of the year, all short, so we have effectively landed in Chile at a very expensive time of year, and found that most of the reasonable priced hotels, certainly by the sea, have been booked for ages.   Again, we should have done more research, but hey all part of life's rich tapestry.
Once we were settled in, we headed straight up town to the celebrations.

The pose we do best.

We couldn't get close to him so this is Mark Coma on video receiving his trophy as winner of the bikes.

Sober Auzzies, not for long though I bet.

We were completely taken in by it all and ended up going to bed about 2.30am.  Great fun.
Sunday 19th January 2014  
Miles Today 151 Total 36,054
Not quite so much fun this morning.  Hostal Hard, honest that was it's name, excelled in the cheese and ham stakes, not.  Coffee was good though.  We are heading south now, we need to get down to the lake district in Patagonia and then Ray wants to sit and watch the glaciers fall into the sea.  We have worked out that we have about 2000 more miles to do, bring it on.
Looking down on Valparaiso.

The greenery started to appear.

My favorite kind of farming. 
Grapes for wine, and olives, (both of which I can consume in copious amounts), seem to be the main stay here, it all looks like a completely different country after the dryness of the Atacama desert.  It truly is an amazing country.  I have been so impressed with Chile. 
We are currently in a small town called San Fernando and are leaving to somewhere South....


  1. I assume you are going all the way to Tierra del Fuego. Stay safe.

  2. Hi George, Oddly enough..No.
    We are not going to TDF for the same reason we did not go to Prudhoe Bay. There is nothing there and it is cold and wet. More importantly, a trip there would only be for bragging rights and we are far too old for that (well me anyway). As you cane see from our later posts, we stopped at Perito Moreno Glacier.