November 23, 2004 - Moquegua 77k, 48m**

We are getting the hang of the coastal desert, high plains desert with canyons intermixed thing. We could have shaved a couple hundred miles off our trip by staying on the Pan American Highway instead of going down to the beach desert road when we can. But we prefer the beach road and on some bad advice tried to take it today. We rode north along the coast out of Ilo, Chile, onto some bad paved road, through a very dirty industrial area, to hell.

This metal smelting plat is the largest single point source of pollution I have ever seen. The billowing clouds of smoke are visible for miles. Worse yet, when we reached it the road went to hard, rocky, rutted dirt. Luckily we had Eduardo and the Fiat once again. We backtracked through Ilo to the turn off road up a canyon to the PanAm highway.

The PanAm here east of Ilo is no longer on a plan. It runs up and down through rocky foothills. After miles of this, in the distance we saw a green canyon.

This one was different – stunning after spending 10 days almost continuously in desert climates. Three rivers from the Andes converge here and Moquegua enough water to do almost everything. It’s lush. They grow dozens of crops and raise all kinds of animals. This has been a prime site for Andean Indians for thousands of years, and they have a great little museum in town (no pictures) that explains the history, cultures and lifestyles. Highly recommended. They built their city on the hillside and left the valley for farming.

We enjoyed getting out of the desert into what seemed to be a normal town (60,000 people). Rather than show you more pictures of roads and bikes, here are some sights from our ride into Moquequa: riding into town. Let’s start with the gas station, a guy herding his goats, and a lady coming home from market.

The native, rural people wear colourful clothes. The Biondi pisco (liquor made from grapes) bodega and the view of their vineyard.

Everything that is irrigated is green. Everything that is not is desert. This is the first place we have been at in 10 days that doesn’t smell like ocean and/or desert. We didn’t realize how much we missed normal green stuff until we got here. Here is a donkey waiting for a load, and a couple walking to town. He has his wheelbarrow. She has the baby.

Here are two views of Moguegua. The first is from my window at the El Mirador Hotel looking up at the heart of Moquegua and the second is from the top of the hill behind the town looking back a the hotel

We walked around the narrow streets of town, saw the cathedral and went to the museum. We tried to go back for dinner, but Moquegua was celebrating its 360th birthday party that night, and most of the roads were blocked off, so we just had dinner at our hotel. We close with the humming bird photo.

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