Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Cruising the Panamerican

Day 114 (February 5, 2013)
Huasco, Chile to Los Villos, Chile
Day's Ride: 321 Miles

Getting out of my super stealthy campsite proved to be a bit of a challenge. I had to pivot my bike 180 degrees on the kickstand before clearing out my line and attempting to ride out.

Luckily I made it out without issue and was able to get back on the road. The salt roads were mostly played out by this point, so I stuck to the Panamerican Highway and cruised.

Chile is very modern and nice. It's like being in Europe or the States. They even have four lane divided highways, which is always nice when you just want to make some miles.

Another mark of modernity is the fact that they have Wal-Mart (called "Lider" down here for some reason).......

I actually went in to look for AAA Lithium batteries for my SPOT and was immediately overwhelmed by "the people of Wal-Mart". Seriously, Wal-Mart down here is no different than it is back in the states, complete with the odd and sometimes downright strange clientèle. Unfortunately, "Lider" didn't have my batteries, but after a little searching, I found a store nearby that carried them

These things are damn hard to find. I haven't seen any since I left Mexico. Granted, I haven't been looking overly hard, but still it seems like you should be able to just walk into a major store and grab a few packs, especially someplace modern like Panama City, Medellin, or Chile. Instead, I had to hector and badger multiple people until I finally found someone to lead me to a tiny, dusty display case tucked away behind the customer service desk. I ended up paying 20,000 pesos for 10 AAA batteries; that works out to about $42! If you're planning on doing this trip with a SPOT, save yourself some trouble (and money) and just buy 20 of these things before you leave the states.

After finally escaping the clutches of the Wal-Mart I hit the road again heading south. As I moved further out of the Atacama, the vegetation began to increase and I found myself thinking that I was back in Southern California on I-5 between Orange County and San Diego.

I kept my eyes peeled for a good place to pitch my tent, but realized that things were a little more populated and developed this far south. I eventually came across a campground and pulled in to see how much it would cost. The old man running the joint wanted 20,000 pesos ($42)! That was a little outrageous and I told him so. I told him that I could camp at a campground in the states for less than that (KOA) and it would have wifi, hot showers, and a swimming pool! He wasn't budging on the price, so I started to put my helmet back on to leave when a younger guy walked up and started talking to me in English.

Turns out that he was the owner's son and was willing to deal. He said I could camp for 15,000 pesos and I told him I would just take my chances on the beach for that much money. He finally asked me how much I was willing to pay and I told him 10,000 pesos. I should have gone a little lower, but I was tired and didn't really feel like arguing to much. He agreed to 10,000 and I was all set.

The campsite was nice, but for 10,000 pesos, I probably should have gotten a little more. Oh well, live and learn.

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