Dakar Day 8: Antofagasta to Copiapo – Sandy Hand, Sandy Wheels

Jan 10, 2011 by     No Comments    Posted under: Activities, Motorcycle adventures

569km, 76 of it planned to be offroad.

Today was the first day I felt good.  It was like I was broken down yesterday and reborn finally with confidence returned.

First stop was the Hand of Atacama.  The visual of this was one of the drivers behind wanting to come on this mad trip.  As it turned out, the hand isn’t in the middle of a pristine desert like I’d imagined, but just off a highway.  So it wasn’t the deep spiritual experience I’d expected, but was still fun, and allowed for some good photo opportunities.

6 hours of scenery changes followed: more barren flat desert, stunning ocean scenes with offshore winds and good point breaks, high speed straight roads allowing comfortable 140km/hr runs, and later (as always) the brutal wind pushing sand drifts across the road in wisps, reclaiming the road as a wave reclaims a beach.  The road surfaces were as varied as the scenery – smooth road, dirt, cobbled tar.  Thousands of shrines dotted the roadside, ranging from 2 sticks made into a cross to towers of grand remembrance.

As always, well past dark, we arrived in the Chilean mining town of Copiapo, the center of the trapped miners drama last year.  I felt like our room was themed to the disaster, as we were ushered into a windowless bedroom.

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