From Arica to Santiago overland (1.300 miles)

Tuesday 11 AM

Leaving Arica down south there are two big caynons: Chaca and Camarones, this picture was captured driving down Cuesta de Camarones with 21 Km long and more than 1.000 mts in the highest point. Workers are here putting out some rolling stones from the road, from a recent earthquake

The truck trows the big stones down the cliff (hope nobody are bellow!) the road is a narrow two lane with lot of bends along the 21km downhill
Then climbing the same caynon there are a big dune in the middle, it is a nice place, sort of a sand ocean, but I am inside the truck so we have no time to stop and photograph. It is a long way ahead.

Thursday 10 AM

We stayed in Iquique one nigth and early in the morning we continue our trip, here in Quillagua checkpoint there are a custom (first region is free zone) and stray dogs helps to custom officers checking every vehicle.

Passing Rio Loa sea water turns a nice turqueoise colour, but we are in a hurry, no time to stop and photograph Tunel Galleguillos is the only tunnel in north until we reach near Santiago : From Arica to Tocopilla there are the most dangerous drive conditions; high climbs, bumpy and bended road with a narrow lane, but we are accustomed because we had drived many times here before.

Thursday 12 AM

Finally near noon we reach Tocopilla, a small mining town with a big power plant for electricity

At first sigth Tocopilla appears horrible, but it has certain charm if you stay there for a while, in saturday nigths is a hot place, fiestas everywere
We only pass trough the town, at the exit the huge power lines to feed the world largest cooper mine: Chuquicamata, some hundred mile to the cordillera Our trip continues by the coast passing ruins of ancient towns and old cementeries
This big house from the twenties, may be an ancient whale factory or a nitrate office More electricity for the big minings, this time from Mejillones power plant, here the road improves and the lane is wider
At this point we exactly cross the Tropico de Capricornio (I remembered Henry Miller) some dunes and behind the Cerro Moreno, hiding by clouds. Here is also located the international Airport Cerro Moreno for the city of Antofagasta We continue driving for a while, finally we reach to

Thursday 1 PM

Antofagasta! the biggest minning city of Chile

A mining train crosses the street from port to the mines
In front of MacDonalds Antofagasta, time for lunch I wanna my happy box!!!
From Antofagasta, near the sea, the road enters inland to Desierto de Atacama, in La Negra there are a big cement plant And few km ahead another big facility for melting metals
Desierto is my natural enviroment, so I will drive this part of the road Meantime my nervous copilot grab from panel, fearing a crash!
My chap want to sleep for a while, but is too bored for me, so I don´t stop talking, and talking and singing and making any kind of noise. If I am awake, everyone is awake.

Thursday 4 PM

This is Aguas Verdes, one of the most isolated points in Chile, in middle of nowere, only a gas station and a Carabineros quarter, you can draw a circle 250km around and there are absolutly no human being, except travellers. Sun shines but the wind blows pretty chilly

Thursday 6 PM

And run, run, run, we remain crossing the driest place in the earth, it seems will never ends

Thursday 9 PM

Only one more bend and we will arrive to Chañaral

In Chañaral, another mining town we fill the gas tank again. Very tired at this point

Thursday 10:15 PM

At last we reach Copiapo! we will pass the nigth here in a good hotel; after dinning I go directly near the stove. I´m not accustomed to cold, in my city sun shines everyday!

Friday 8 AM

Too early with sun but cold at the door of my room, a lite breackfast and on the road again!

Copiapó is rich in iron mines, so there are lot of dark hills
Since this point roads improve a lot, heading south, always south Here we are waiting in a mining railroad cross
In Vallenar we stop again to refill the tank gas

Our next stop will be La Serena 400 km ahead

Serena, here we go!!!

See my pal driving, he pretends to be a seasoned chaufeurr, but is TOO FAR for that, he MUST see me and learn a lot We are going down trough the long Cuesta Buenos Aires (about 20 km)
full of clouds, we are in winter season but in north weather is still mild Desert begin to turn green, first at spots only
At last, after many hours of desierto we approach to the sea again

Friday 1:30 PM

We reached La Serena and in a nice trattoria I enjoyed a big antipasto and pizza

La Serena is a pretty town in colonial style, except for the ugly Avenida del Mar, sort of poor man´s Cancún Coquimbo is another town near La Serena, on the run again, heading down south
Coquimbo suburbs And go, go, go, this time by the coastline
Suddenly begins to rain It is a big cultural shock for me, in Arica NEVER rains!
Not even know how turn on the windshield And after the rain, sun shines again

Friday 6 PM

Between Tongoy and Los Vilos in chilean slang means "so-so", well this place is exactly entre Tongoy y Los Vilos

Entering to Los Vilos Detour to Catapilco

Friday 8 PM

Nigth is coming and we go, and go, and go

In Tunel El Melón near to Santiago

Friday 10:30 PM

At last in Santiago, in my hotel I intended to sleep, but NO! my pal and ex-partner in the Uni shorty Medalla comes for me to celebrate my arriving

Friday 11:30 PM

In a nice bar near"Altar de la Patria" we party and drink with shorty and his coworkers

All of them are electronic engineers, like me, and work in Entel, the main Teleco company in Chile Shorty was friend of the owner of bar! credit for all over the nigth!!!

Saturday 02:30

Bended and drunk as a seaman, take this picc before come back to my hotel

Saturday 12:30

Santiago in the day after, dammed cold and HORRIBLE hangover

Most of Santiago neighborhood are identical as when I lived there, when I was kid.

My other days in Santiago:

The saturday nigth I go for the cuban scene dinning in the nice cuban restaurant DEMARIS (ropa vieja is a dish I strongly reccomend) and then to the so cuban and crazy ILE HABANA, sorry, no pics available, ¡viva Cuba chico!

And in Sunday at 7:30 PM I was taken the fligth returning to Arica, a crazy trip for just two days...