The Journal  

5 February 2006


Author: Jeremiah

Photographer: Holly


Arica , Chile

January 22-23

We left La Paz early on a Sunday morning not sure of how far we would get. The Guzzi started reluctantly and I kept on the gas as we maneuvered out of the city streets to the highway. At stoplights and toll booths I turned the engine off to avoid having the spark plugs foul again. Despite being cold and overcast, the motorcycle ran fine as long as I kept on the throttle and we made it to the open road that crosses the Bolivian altiplano to the Chilean border.

Sixty miles south of La Paz at Patacamaya we turned off the main road, heading west to Chile . As the road continued to climb higher signs of civilization became sparser as we passed by ancient ruins that sat like giant, crumbling ant hills in the open pampas and the occasional shepherd.


Even with the sun shining the air was still very cold at the high altitude we were traveling at.

When the fuel light came on the GPS didn't show any towns within the thirty mile range of the gas we had left. I pulled off were the road forked at a truck stop restaurant and asked for gas. Again we were greeted with an amber colored mystery liquid that smelled like gasoline as I poured it into the tank from a five gallon bucket while the attendant held a cut-off Coke bottle as a funnel.


Upon leaving La Paz we needed to fuel up before crossing the border so at a roadside restaurant we asked for gasoline which someone almost always seemed to have a can out back of their house.

The road towards the border passed through Bolivia 's Parque Nacional Sajama and past the nation's highest peaks. In an hour we reached the Peruvian immigration station, five kilometers from the border. Traffic was sparse and lines were short and in ten minutes we were on our way. The GPS read 15,550 feet as we passed the sign that announced that we were in Chile , our highest altitude of the journey. A further 10 kilometers and we were at the Chilean border station, in the shadow of the Parinacota volcano.


The roads toward the border were flat and straight with brilliant blue skies.

From the border the Chilean road ran past spectacular mountains and high lakes, the road running through thr land and hills between the peaks and open steppes of Chile 's Parque Nacional Lauca.


The snow-capped dormant volcano Parinacota standing at almost 21,000 feet called for a photo op after we crossed into Chile.

We were still 60 miles from our destination of Arica when the fuel light came on. Once again the road was deserted, the occasional truck stop or mining town devoid of gas pumps. A stop at another road side café yielded five liters of gas siphoned out of a water jug for $8 U.S. dollars.


We left the cold pampas for the sweltering desert which was broken up by the occasional green oasis created by a stream that would manifest itself in a valley.

The road towards the coast skirted arid ridges with a ribbon thin green valley that runs between them. When we stopped for gas the second time, I noticed the Guzzi was idling fine and starting easy like it used to. I assume that Shelby Canard was right that the fuel injection wasn't mapped for the higher altitudes and was making the engine run rich at low speeds. Beside a series of hiccups after we left the border, which I attributed to low quality gas, the Guzzi had ran fine throughout the entire La Paz to Arica trip.

An increasingly green valley, dotted with cornfields and cow pastures, welcomed us to the Chilean coast. Our destination for the night, Arica , is a little beach resort without a beach. The area where the town meets the ocean is a fishing port, with the best swimming spots several kilometers north and south of the town. On A Sunday afternoon the town was full of uniformed Chilean soldiers in desert camo, on leave from the nearby military bases and shorts-wearing Chileans enjoy a street fair by our hotel.


Fresh fish were about to be filleted at the docks in Arica.


Sea lions were perusing the waters for small fish and scraps.


Fisherman shuffle around the docks after a Sunday at sea.

In Arica we quickly found Chile to be an expensive place. It cost us $22 to fill up our tank on the outskirts of town, $25 for our hotel room and $12 for supper.

Unpacking our saddlebags at the hotel we found our full water bottles were crushed like empty soda cans. The bottles had been filled in La Paz , taken over the mountains and then back down to the ocean side and showed what our bodies had gone through in our 16,000 foot descent to the Pacific Ocean.


After arriving at Arica we unpacked the Guzzi and found that our water bottles suffered from the drastic elevation change.



All photographs © Holly Marcus / Page design by Robin Marcus