Thursday December 1, Day-19
Iquique to Arica, 344 kms
From Iquique to Arica, pretty much asphalt roads along the Pacific coastline. But first a car racing circuit in one of the slum neighborhood of Iquique. We have noticed that many cities have circuits here in Chile and Argentina and that they are almost always in the poorest neighborhoods with flying plastic bags in the wind and stray dogs roaming freely. At our start we were just able to avoid one of those hungry innocent critters as we were screaming through second gear already at 60km/hr. We did pretty well at 2:35 with the fastest, car our team mate Joost, in car 65 at 2:11. Colin and I have gone to a strategy of preservation and so we don’t push as hard as we used to, in order to avoid mishaps and a few seconds here or there does not make the difference. Also I am on a tire conservation program. It is not a serious matter, we still have almost new tires that are now in the back and 2 sets of front tires with 30% or so.
After the circuit we moved more inland and got a chance to visit a saltpeter village. Where all the buildings and equipment were still standing in the dry blazing desert sun.
Not the greatest tourist attraction, but buses were unloading sweating passengers anyway, who seemed to pay more attention to our cars than the ruins left by gunpowder and fertilizer production.
From here we drive north on very straight roads until reaching the Pacific again. Its hard to imagine how much dry sand there is.
For hours and hours in the searing heat, Someone even made some sculptures in the desert. So we no longer will need to fly over the Nazca lines in a few days.
To finish the day off, one more racing circuit in the outskirts of Arica, almost directly on the border with Peru. Again we did ok somewhere in the top 10 finishers with a few seconds here or there. Below a picture with a good friend of ours, one of the starting marshals, giving me a thumbs up.
The hotel today was one of the low points of the rally. Right on the beach in Arica where they make the Hamptons look like a little sandbox. The usual scene unfolds in the parking lot as you can see from my hotel room. Its getting a bit embarrasing Colin and I do not spend much time in parking lots.
Tomorrow border crossing into Peru on one of the busiest borders we will have crossed. And our last one of this rally.