19 April, 2012

Thwarted by Geography

We got up at 0600, well before first light and got ready to look for the signal and the bird. Broke camp and headed down the dust track from the night before thinking we could possibly get closer to his location.

Our handheld GPS units showed that he was under 5 miles away just to the NE. Our road went that direction and so we followed it but with no results, only static on the receiver.

We realized that a long ridge was between us and that we would have to get on top of it if we were to get a shot at him.

        Felipe Was Somewhere Over That Distant Ridge

I tried driving out towards the slope up to the ridgeline but nearly high centered (in a Ford pick-up!) in the accumulated thick dust. Luckily just got out. I figured it was at least 14" deep.

                      Playing With The Long Shadows Of Dawn

Took a look at driving out on the bike but the surface was littered with thousands of sharp stones of all sizes that could easily puncture my tires. Because of the lack of water here, stones just lay about for thousands of years with no erosion to dull their edges. Many, maybe most, are sharp enough to cut.

So although we were so close, we just could not home in on him this morning.

Spent the day driving north through the central valley of the high desert with the receiver on, hoping we would get a signal and knowing that he had to be paralleling us.

           Needle in the Haystack But Why Not Look?

We reached the cut-off to Iquique, one of the most beautifully situated cities I have ever seen. Totally fell in love with this place. The road in comes over a huge hill suddenly and goes right along a maybe 2,000' foot nearly vertical drop down into the city. The views are phenomenal. And there is the biggest sand dunes I have ever seen in my life just behind town. Must be 1,000' high. Oh yeah. And white sandy beaches.

It is pronounced EEE-KEY-KAY.

Got a hotel to clean up after two nights out in the desert with all that heavy dust and to hit the Internet to wait for the next signal. Although we hope that he will be close, we are now in one of the most remote areas of the Atacama and there really are not an abundance of roads out there anymore.

We may get to Peru tomorrow.

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