Unfortunately, after the intersection, where I had to leave the Route 5 for Calama, the landscape changes: you arrive in a region which was the beginnig of mining in 1910-1940. During that period the production was about 30’000 to 100’000 tons per year of salt, salpeter or metal, depending of the type of mine! I had the feeling to get in a destructed area, like a battlefield. And as there are no vegetation or rain but only the wind that could modify ist appearance it will remain quite a time like that. And you pass by more then one deserted town…freaky!
Finally, I arrived at Sierra Gorda, a village that profite from the mine nearby. I had a dsicussion with Carlos from the local Cabiñeros, which was a welcome pause; for him and me. The mine is so important that they moved the road about 3km to the side over a length of more than 10km! As large as the trucks and other machine they are using there!
By the way: didn’t I tell you, that Chileans are addicted to TV? There was even one at the little abr/shop at the corner…
Just after the mine there is a water tank of about 10’000’000 liter of water that is transported to Calama by pipeline. The “guard” saw me and was encouraging me…I took a break and had a little talk. He had the visit of a french cycling couple that was interviewed by the local TV about 30 days before and now feeling a bit alone. So he invited me to place the tent on the ground, which is protected by a barrier… A little bit noisy due to the road but surely safe! After I had cooked some rice I had to go sleeping… It was a long day, but Polo had much to talk about and could “not” let me go.
Finaly in the bed!