The First Month
After nearly 4 weeks of riding our group has crossed from the Atlantic to the Pacific. It´s a small accomplishment admittedly, it´s not even the widest part of the continent, yet it´s an accomplishment that we can regard with pride. The days go by quickly on this tour; individual camps and roads blend into a scattered slide-show of foggy memories. But the major landmarks are observed with a sort of reverence, real indicators of the distance that has been covered thus far. Crossing a border and putting a country behind us is always cause for celebration. Our first pass over the Andes was an experience that none on the tour will soon forget. And now that we´ve reached the Pacific it really feels like we´ve made some progress.
The curious shape of Chile follows the natural boundaries of the landscape. It is the Andes that push this narrow sliver of land against the sea. This is an observable fact as we make our way up the coast from Santiago. Soft peaks, laden with cactus and scrub, roll down from our right, level of, then crumble into the ocean on our left. Lizards flick under rocks as we pass, and circling vultures float overhead searching for their next meal. Blooming flowers lend a dash of colour to the land that results in a scene of surprising beauty.
Do not, for a moment, fool yourself into thinking that because we´re traveling along the coast that this is some leisurely beach cruise. Each day holds big changes in elevation; one moment we´re looking down on a dark stirring ocean from a distance, the next we´re catching the unmistakable scent of salt spray in the air. ´´Rolling hills´´ is a frequently used descriptor on these tours, but for this stretch the term, again, feels somewhat inadequate. Yet our hard work is rewarded with camps of epic beauty, on secluded beaches, well out of the realm of the guidebook toting crowd. Our evenings are spent wandering around camp, cameras in hand, attempting to capture the magic of the scene, and hold it with us. Tomorrow holds another camp, another adventure, and soon this place will blend into the mists of our memory.