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The next morning I was able to get my credit card back once the bank opened so all was good. Unfortunately, this again put me many hours behind everyone. So again I needed to haul ass to catch up.

I caught up with the support vehicles heading down the coast to Antofogasta, the end of the current day’s leg of the race.

At one point everyone had to stop for gas. Again a mob scene. No surprise the support vehicles are just enormous. I was able to get some gas and escape, but not before posing for a few more photos.

I made it to Antofagasta late as expected and only saw late arrival racers.

The next day was a rest day for the Dakar. So I went to the fairgrounds hoping to convince them that I’m Dakar’s biggest fan and rode all the way from California just to be here. The people manning the gate were friendly enough, but no luck. Bribe didn’t work either. Damn.

One of the many cool things about this race was that racers would take their vehicles in to town for supplies and gas. They would finish the race, and than go in to town to pickup a six-pack (I assume, that’s what Id do). So there was activity all over Antofagasta. People hung out on street corners and over passes just to take snap shots. Again had my picture taken a bunch of times just riding about.

The energy level here was palpable. Everything about Dakar was so cool. How can I be a part of this? Hell, Ill change tires for free just to get in to the paddock. I talked with a few people outside the fenced area who were helping out or actually in the race. I asked them to tell me everything, but they were more inquisitive about my trip. Who cares about me, let’s talk Dakar.

I took a bunch of pics and they can be found here if interested.

Dakar 2010

This is an amazing race, but following it is easier said than done. It is definitely a made for TV event. There is a huge mob following along and therefore it’s best to have lodging and everything else thought out well in advance. (It took forever to find a room in Antofagasta) So I decided to break off my pursuit and see more of Chile. Someday I’ll be back.

H


Dakar! This has got to be the most awesome race I’ve ever seen. Everything about it radiates coolness. Even the support vehicles kick ass.

But I get ahead. First I had to iron butt it to Iquique, Chile. I think this was my longest riding day ever. Roughly 500 miles. But much of the road looked like this.

So hauling ass was no problem. Miles and miles of nothingness.

Even the best laid out plans must be derailed by unforeseen circumstances. Murphy’s law. First was the Peruvian/Chile border. The customs agents were on strike and made everyone wait for a few hours. Lot of pissed off people waiting in the sun.

Three hours later I was through. Other than the strike, one of the fastest border crossings ever. Twenty minutes or so.

So I continue down the road of nothingness.

Finally some canyons and something to break up the endless void.

And finally I made it to Iquique. The Dakar fairgrounds were a bit farther south down the road so first on the agenda was to find a cash machine and get some Chilean dough. But Murphy was not done with me. I find an ATM, and the machine swallows my card without giving me a dime. What the hell? The bank is closed, and nothing can be done. Everyone tells me Ill have to wait until morning. Ok, screw it, Ill just I head over to the Dakar fair grounds and hopefully see some of the late arrival racers.

Nothing could prepare me for what would happen next. The moment I stopped my bike I was surrounded by fans taking my picture. I told them, I’m not in the race. I’m just a spectator like you. Response: “I don’t care, hold my baby next to your bike.” I can’t say how many pictures I had taken of myself with fans. It was non-stop. At one point I had to escape so I walked away. Immediately people started climbing on Ruby and posing for pictures. I watched nervously from afar.

I did get to see some of the late racers arriving. They had to go down this really steep sand dune to get to the day’s finish. Simply nuts.

Ruby and some other bikers that arrived remained the center of attention. Babies were propped up on the seat. I was pulled in to group photos. I guess this is what celebrities must go through. What an experience. Fortunately, Ruby and I got out unscathed.

I ended up simply pitching a tent and spending the night here.

Tomorrow Ill follow the support vehicles to Antofagasta, the next stop.

H


I have a decision to make, continue on in to Bolivia or head south in to Chile. Bolivia was definitely on the agenda for a visit. The problem is my rear tire is completely spent and getting another in Bolivia does not seem likely. It turned out I could get a tire (although wrong size) shipped to me in Arequipa, Peru. So go to Arequipa, get the tire and than go back to Bolivia? That seemed like a good plan until I discovered that I could make the Dakar in Iqugue, Chile. Man, what an opportunity. Ok, Bolivia can wait, Im heading in to Chile to see the Dakar. I just can’t pass that up.

So me, Felipe and Carolina headed to Arequipa. The road took us much higher in elevation than we were prepared for. The road was gorgeous but soon came the cold.

And than came the hail. Nothing like riding on ice. No pics of riding on the hail ice covering the road. I was scared to death to stop or do anything other than get the hell out of there.

Some jerk in an SUV decided to pass me. His wake produced a wave of ice that blasted me almost knocking me off the bike. After he passed, he lost control and started fishing tailing. Unable to recover he did a 180 right in front of me and landed in the ditch along the shoulder of the road. Fricken moron.

We did eventually make it to Arequipa unscathed, but what a day.

H


Woke up early to get a full day tour one of the most sacred lakes in the Inca civilization. First on the agenda was a visit to the floating islands:

There was definitely something cool about these floating islands, but the way it was presented made one feel a bit ill. It was too staged, too fake, too touristy, I didn’t know what to make of it. The natives sang to us, invited us in to their homes, posed for photos, let us wear their clothes, and than would peddle their wares in an extremely staged price negotiating process. It just seemed too transparent. Im all about helping out the locals, but this was a bit over the top.

Demonstration on how they build the islands.

Notice how these blocks float.

This kid hung out with us on the boat and crawled over everyone:

Next it was on to a real island. The boat traveled at no more than 2 knots so it took forever to get anywhere. It turned out that the full day trip consisted of 6 hours of travel time (easily could have been done in 1 hour with a fast boat). Wasn’t so bad though. Good conversation made the time go by pretty quick.

You could really feel the altitude of this lake.

They fed us lunch and than it was back to Puno.

I believe the whole trip was only $15 so it was well worth it. Easily could have been done in half the day, but where did I need to be?

H


Back on the road to Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world. Now if this lake isn’t on the top of your list of must visit places you are seriously messed up. I’m just brimming with excitement.

And there it is, the highest navigable lake in the world. Simply fascinating!

Aaaah what the hell, tomorrow Ill take a tour.

H

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