woman's world Wed 02 May 2018

Discovering Dakar  TRIP TO SOUTH AMERICA second part

I crossed all of Chile from the Tierra del Fuego to the far north where it borders with Peru and Argentina. From Ushuaia I went north on Ruta 3, I visited the Valdés peninsula up the coast of Argentina. Very long and boring route with strong winds; I was so bored and tired that I risked going into the ditch because I almost fell asleep. Late in the afternoon of that same day, suffering for the long ride, I looked in vain for a place where to stay for the night. The gas stations where I hoped to find shelter sent me on my way, and I had to keep going. I finally received good news; there was a little town at about 30 km from my position where I could find hospitality. It was 9 pm and while I was thinking of heading for the town, a motorcyclist with his wife stopped and invited me to follow him to the headquarters of his motor club in Caletta Olivia. There other bikers warmly welcomed me, and I stayed for two days. Going north through Argentina I went to visit a friend of mine, jockey and motorcyclist, from Buenos Aires; I stayed in his beautiful home in the country, where he was on vacation with his wife and son, for a few days. With him I explored the area riding a horse instead of a bike.

When I left, I headed for Cordoba where I met many Peruvian motorcyclist and Adrian. I had a wonderful evening with them and then I was back on my bike heading north. In Rosario I stayed with Andrea and Claudio for three days; they are old friends, motorcyclists and Dakar fans and we had a lot to share.
From there I headed for Salta and the Paso de Jama. As other times during my trip I had a flat right after passing the border between Chile and Argentina at an elevation of about 4800 meters. I entered a snowstorm and I kept going in the blizzard until I reached the border between Bolivia and Chile, seven kilometers later. The customs officers afraid for me in the bad weather, kindly offered me hospitality for the night in their office. The morning after, warmed and rested, I changed the inner tube and after about 40 kilometers, in San Pedro De Atacama, I found a tire repairer who vulcanized the tire. Finally, I reached Calama, a lovely city by the sea, and was able to buy a new tire from a KTM dealer.
I had a big problem with elevation. I planned to go to Sico Pass, where the highest train in the world, the “train to the clouds”, passes. During the day elevation was bearable but during the night it was agony. This is why Andean people chew coke leaves and this is what I did too, since little bags of it are legally sold around town, but even so, I didn’t fell up to it, so I gave up reaching the pass. It will be my challenge on the next trip.
In Chile I visited the Valley of the Moon, the Atacama Desert and the dry salt lakes. After I posted pictures on Facebook I was contacted by Pinuccio and Doni, two motorcyclists who, on a dated Transalp, had been travelling in South America for 4 years. We decided to meet south of the city of Antofagasta under the Mano del Desierto sculpture.

Continuing along my itinerary, while I was riding through the Chilean city of Copiapó, a wrench abandoned on the pavement punctured my new tire severing it and shearing the inner tube. It was Sunday and there were no less than 42°C. I sought the shade of a tree and, gathering my courage, I removed the tire. A passing motorcyclist, seeing that I was in trouble, kindly offered to help. With his bike, he took me and my tire to the only open tire repairer in the area, an old man who worked in primitive conditions but who carried out an excellent job vulcanizing the tear in the tire and replacing the inner tube. After this repair, which I didn’t fully trust, I went on with my itinerary heading south with one eye to the speedometer trying not to go faster than 100 km/h.
Along the way I stopped because I wanted to take a picture of a herd of little llamas that grazed the banks of a pond, when three motorcyclists with Italian license plates stopped; they were an Italian 61-year old lady with her husband and a friend with whom I shared the container that transported the bikes.
Two or three hundred kilometers south of Valparaiso, I rode through spectacular landscapes; it was the Santa Cruz area along the Ruta dell’Olio, the Ruta del Vino and the Ruta della Frutta. It looked just like Maremma in Tuscany!
Thanks to the pictures I periodically posted on Facebook, I was contacted by an Italian-French journalist, Judith Tommaselli - who covered the Dakar since 1995 – who was driving across Chile solo on her jeep. We decided to meet at a typical village wine festival by the lake. After four marvelous days together, half of which spent by the sea as guests of her friend, a mechanic and the owner of a cabana club, she left for France and I for Valparaiso. I returned to the hostel of Enzo and Martina who were waiting for me to prepare the papers for the bike customs clearance, and there I met Antonio, Giovanni, Pinuccio and Doni who were also ready to ship their bikes.

The only technical inconvenience I had during the trip were the frequent flats. The sharp rocks showed no mercy for my tires.
Fortunately, by using inflator, flat-fix and strips I had with me, I was always able to inflate the tire enough to reach the closest repair shop (usually 30-40 km away) where the tire would be vulcanized. Unfortunately, this type of repair with heat and speed isn’t very reliable.
Until next time!

Text and photos: Silvia Giannetti

Questo sito fa uso di cookie, anche di terze parti, per migliorare la tua esperienza di navigazione. Accettando questa informativa dai il consenso al loro utilizzo. OK Voglio saperne di più