Sunday, September 16, 2012

15c0912 BLOK


15c0912 BLOK (up to Chucuicamata, La Mina de Grande)
People are so wonderful to me wherever I go in the world, all the countries, cultures, people pretty much the same.
Today, outside the Calama Mall, retrieving Mr. Fetes, a Chileno man accosted me with a barrage of effusiveness that overwhelmed me.  He even hugged me when departing.  I never knew exactly what he was saying in Spanish, but the feeling… You can tell… He was approving of everything I did (traveling on a bicycle) while guilty about his own laziness (overweight).   And this wasn't the first time in Chile.   Generally speaking, Chilenos have been good to me, supportive in demonstrative ways.  On the other hand, the 'rip off' in on in Chile (like China).   They don't mind taking as much as they can get from gringos!
In Chile, I know almost for sure I'm the only one over 70-years of age that's 'out here.'  And being 'blessed,' by the man described… It confirms our 'mission' at least in terms of cycling!  We're simply 'out here' to demonstrate to older people (riding around in air-conditioned boxes on wheels) that it's possible!  Look at me!
So, get off your asses, turn the TV off!  Pull those earplugs out, and ride a bicycle in the countryside!  Listen to Nature!  All the plants and animals are trying to communicate something to us!  That we better stop our profligate ways, and adjust to a different way of living or we're going to be in deep 'do-do!'  
Ride a bicycle!  Burn fat, not oil!
Speaking of such, we 'cranked up to 'Chucuicamata' (the Codelco copper mine complex) yesterday afternoon.  This after getting all the tubes inspected, patched, including a new one.  So, now I have a total of 6 good tubes.   I was lucky to find this, the only good bicycle shop, in all of Calama.  And Open, no less!
Mina de Grande is 16KM up highway B-24 (the highway north connecting to #5, to Iquique and Arica).  This highway good, with a 2mt. wide 'shoulder'/bicycle path. Plus, I had the wind helping.  Finally, a view of the wide opening into infinity Atacama Desert to the east.  The snow-capped volcanoes of Bolivia in the distance.
This was a Saturday the beginning of their National Birthday Holiday, so not much going on at the mine.  In fact, everything closed, a ghost town of no casualties (the sign advertises).  I took pictures, of course, now uploaded to www.cyclingpeace.org/gallery/
'In Chucuicamata,' a vast industrial area of buildings, equipment, yet mostly deserted this day.  Foolishly, I had no water with me and was thirsty.  I thought a store would be open, but no.  Then up at the Main Gate, and bus depot I got lucky.  There were two sidewalk vendors selling beverages, snacks, cigarettes of course. I purchased a 1.5L bottle of Watt's pineapple juice, the last one.  This cost $3.50U.S., but I would have purchased it if it cost $10U.S.  I was in need.
On a regular work day, 8,000 people are here toiling away, more like a military installation than something private.  I don't know how long they've been taking copper ore out of these hills, but in exchange they're created a 'mountain range!'  The whole thing reminded me of similar in China, where there's nothing for kilometers, then suddenly a huge factory complex.  I remember in one little town, a factory building 2KM in length, but I never knew why or for what?  Then on another trip with Zha'yier, we came across a huge steel mill belching molten fire out in the middle of nowhere.  
With the wind building I started coasting down the hills, with only one up.  But when you have to crank downhill you know the wind is strong (in your face). 
Great views of Calama going down, a mass of buildings in the distance, an oasis on some water (as all these communities are).  No water, no city.
Another wonderful day in Calama, where the people are at least real!
When back, I noticed Antonio (who I thought was the owner), was back putting up his red, white and blue, one-star, Chilean flags.  They seem to be every patriotic in Chile! 
In the U.S., the 4th of July, one big party (with few flags).

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