Tuesday, 23.02.2010: hell or purgatory?

23 Feb
Today I started with the rest of yesterday: 1) I had made to much spaghetti (or better: my stomach refused as much food as the other days) and 2) I had to fix one of the fixation made of tissue band between tent and nail. I guess I have slammed a stone and the steel nail while the band was in between. So I fixed with the set I’ ve got once from a hotel, some of the glue for seeling matress and as I didn’t want to wait until it was dry, I used some tape around it.
The breakfast was while enjoying the vulcan San Pedro and San Pablo, which has a strange “eye” fromation.
The titel is quite a provocation and is what I felt for the next part of the day. The major time wind was from front. The challenge were the long parts of sand forcing me to push the bicycle. Sometime I had to push 10 meters and cycle 20. At the end I was only pushing because I was fed up of getting on and off the bike. And it became worse: what I expect to be a village was “nothing”. In other words, the whole region is the water collecting area for Calama and Antofagasta, as I wrote in previous blog. That region has several pipelines which has dried out the two lakes Beside the fact that I was expecting “life” with a pueblo, it is a ugly region, where old rusty pipes are just put beside new one. It just looks like a old open air factory.
After lots of pushing (where non 4×4 cars would have problems with the sand), I arrived on a better part, mostly covered by a white powder which I guess is calc(?) (Kalk). Beside everything is getting white, it is much “harder” than sand and is better to cycle.
At the end of the valley is a full contrast to the previous scenery a little river with vegetation. Following the road on the GPS towards San Pedro (not de Atacama). The other road was leading more to the south which was meaning loosing as well more altitude as necessary. After a few hundred meters, I mother and her daugther were standing at the side of the road. I was more preoccupied by their dog… I wanted to be sure to be on the right way and started the discussion. The mother was quite astonished and asked were the motor is. I told her my legs were my two motors…. 😉
From there, the road followed a pipeline downhill towards San Pedro where I searched for an Almacen – a little store and electricity to recharge my power battery. In the middle of the descent I finally had cellular coverage and could receive and send some news. I was back in civilisation.
From a worker camp (living in metall tanks like we know in Europe), I learnt that there is a little “shop” were once can buy stuff. It is located just left beside the “main building” with a new and large roof. Just before I was leaving, an old man came with some herbs. He was the tennant of the shop. He told me that he is the only permanent habitant of San Pedro, the others living in Calama during the week. I could buy some conserves, cocacola and hygienic paper… The electricity would may be come in the night. But I would find anything in Ascotan.
So I left towards north and enjoying the better road and backwind. It was obvious for me, that from now to Ollagüe, I had cellular connection. Quite soon, I had to change my opinion. As I didn’t wanted to start tomorrow with only cylcing up and the wind was helping me, I took my chance and cycled futher, first through the dried valley (but with three water pipeline). After few kilometers I passed the small or mini volcan Puruña, which is exactly on lline with its bigger brothers volcan San Pablo and San Pedro. I was thanked with a beautiful sunset, but had no coverage anymore. So I choosed a place behind a rock and built up the tent in the strong wind. After spaghetti con pescados (fish, out of the bin) my stomach was full and needed to sleep.
Gud n8!