I had no idea what to expect this day, and what was in store for me was one of the most emotional challenging days of my life. I'd packed Ghost with the bags and equipment late the night before, he was ready to travel. I woke up to my alarm after a short sleep. I set off in the dark, 5:30am. As I climbed the hills heading back into the desert and away from the coast, I looked over the sleeping beach town and it's scattered lights, pondering life in this hidden town, and life in general. Back in the desert, very slowly the sky started to show light. Whilst pleading with the sun to rise up and show it's big yellow beautiful face, I stopped four times to due to the aching pain the cold air was causing my hands. Finally the sun came up and I felt relief immediately, possibly cause by placebo. I began climbing up through the Andes, a spectacular ride. An hour later and the sun was truly beaming. I considered taking some layers off as I really started to warm up, however the suns effect was evened out by the cold air as Ghost and I ascended through some of the most amazing roads I've ever been on. A couple of hours later, I arrived at the Bolivian border. I was happy as the office was quiet, and in no time I'd be commencing my ride though Bolivia into Sucre to meet up with my Good friend Tina. Unfortunately, not everything went to plan on this day. I was refused entry at the border as I am a tourist with a Chilean vehicle, and I do not have residence in Chile. Apparently alot of stolen vehicles enter Bolivia to be sold, and this law had come in to help prevent this from happening.
Of course I would not except no for an answer immediately, and so some time was wasted speaking with officials. After consideration, I decided my only option was to ride back to Iquique, and spend more time with my lawyer friend trying to work out another option. Simple enough task, however I had already used my spare petrol container. This was a problem as I had only enough gas in the tank for 100 k´s, and there was 250´s riding back to ´my´hostel. The service station at the border had run out of petrol and the worker there seemed to have absolutely no interest in my dilemma. Over the next three hours of asking, pleading, begging anyone I could find for help, I began to panick slightly as not a person seemed to care. I knew it was a race against time. The afternoon had arrived, and riding through the Andes at 4500m above sea level would not be a pleasant or safe experience.
Finally, I was able to buy a few litres from a lovely young lady who had a 20 litre can at her house across the road. Delighted as I was, I gave her triple of what she had paid. At last I could ride back and have some rest and work out what to do next. But no...
Back at my bike, I realized my gloves had been stolen from my helmet. An old couple were sitting near my stuff, and I knew they must had seen something. Already frustrated and overwhelmed with the happenings of the day, I approached the old couple and once again found myself trying to sort out another difficult situation. I was persistent as riding through the Andes without bike gloves was not an option. As a crowd gathered, some of which seemed amused at the gringos bad luck, some which truly wanted to help, I pursued with explaining my situation in my improving Spanish. The old woman pointed and made noises as a man in a construction uniform walked past. I approached him and I would say that my anger and frustation was quite clear to all at this point. I am still amazed that my gloves were return. Finally, I would ride!
I sped back through the Andes knowing that I must make it before the cold. After an hour or so of descending, the weather became very pleasant, and I really started enjoying the view and even stopped for a few photos.
With 150k´s left to ride, I was exhausted emotionally and physically, and dreaming of lying in bed back at the hostel. I was also laughing to myself about what a day it had been.
With 50 k´s left, I really started to question what I was thinking taking on this adventure when Ghosty started coughing and spluttering. I knew immediately that we were out of petrol. I hoped and hoped and ran him dry to his limit, but this only got us another 2 k´s.
What to do? In the desert, no petrol, night arriving. I pushed ghost behind a rail as to hide him as best I could. I unpacked my bag and camping gear, walked to a visible spot and stuck my thumb out at the traffic heading toward Iquique. My first bit of good luck for the day, within five minutes, I was sitting in the front seat explaing my story my saviour. After hearing about my day, he reached in the back and pulled out a sandwich and can of Fanta and insisted that they were mine. I must have really looked down and out, as he even offered to have his brother drive me back to my bike after dropping me off at the service station 45 k´s away from my bike. I ensured him that he'd done enough for me, and after filling up my spare container, another gentleman said it was no problem to drive me up to my bike as it was on his way.
As we set off from the service station, I realized there was another problem arising. It was now pitch black, and I had hidden my bike. I was extremely lucky that this man was so generous, driving me back and forth in his comfortable Cadillac looking for Ghost. We must have been in the car for over an hour together, stopping at various places, walking around. I looking desperately for my buddy.
I was almost ready to give up hope, when I recognized a point on the side of the road. We stopped, I was right. I couldn´t have been more thankful to that man, and as he drove off, I ran towards Ghost yelling his name. I would say I was slightly delusional at this point, however my exhaustion had been replaced, and I was revived by a burst of adrenalin because of the fact I had found my mate. I checked over him, and through the saddle bags, and everything was in order. I was extremely greatful for the head torch I had purchased at the markets a few days before, as it allowed me to pack up Shad in the darkness. Once he was all packed up, I gave him a much needed drink of petrol.
Just to top my day off, the last 50 k´s I was to ride home in the strongest fog I've ever encountered in my life. It was not possible to see more than about 20m ahead, which meant a very slow and careful last leg of my bizzare day.
Later that night was probably the most I've ever enjoyed lying in bed.