Day 123 - December 3rd

Today was another travel day south. After not being able to find an affordable breakfast anywhere, we bought these chicken and cheese pastries from a corner store. Good enough. Dave also bought a juice, but it only made it about 10m out of the store before he dropped it and broke glass everywhere. Guess it's going to be one of those days.
We left Antofagasta and headed onto the highway. About an hour down the road was our first destination: Mano del Desierto, or Hand of the Desert. 100m off the side of the Panamerican highway is an 11m concrete hand sculpture. It was pretty neat. Made for a good photo op spot and a breakup of the monotony that is the Chilean Panamerican desert.
Speaking of monotony, the next 5 hours or so were entirely spent driving straight highway, except for the occasional gas station or jam and bread stop. Unbelievably thrilling. We both turned on music in our helmets (for the first time since Canada!) to stay awake.
A while later, we arrived in the coastal town of ChaƱaral. The town was so incredibly dumpy looking we couldn't believe it. The highest rated hostel on trip advisor had been demolished to build a highway. The other buildings nearby had been abandoned, with windows smashed, walls crumbling, and pavement torn up. And this wasn't part of construction/demolition... This was just disrepair. It honestly looked like a war zone. Perfect, let's stay here for the night.
We managed to find a hostel, which apparently was combined with a perfume store. But nope, they were closed for the night, and told us to go down the street. The hotel down the road seemed fine, but it stood out like a beacon of hope amongst dozens of crumbling buildings. What do we get ourselves into?
After moving in, we looked for food. It was sometimes difficult to determine what was actually open and what was abandoned, because even the operating businesses were incredibly run down. Then we found what looked like a nice bar. Perfect! Oops, turns out the kitchen doesn't open for 45 minutes... Okay, no problem. We went across the street to the tienda (corner store) and picked up some chocolate bars, brought them back to the bar, and ordered some beers.
After the kitchen opened and we had dinner, we took off to buy some tienda beers and check out more of the town. We wandered into an abandoned stadium, which was super creepy and cool, and then explored a couple other abandoned buildings. Really strange and really cool.
After the tienda beers, we went back to the bar for karaoke night. We didn't take part, but it was a heck of a good time trying to read the words and translate them to English. At one point the girl at the table next to us was singing. I think she spoke English, because as we were translating (poorly and incorrectly of course) she just starts laughing at how dumb we are and has trouble finishing her song. Oops. Maybe it's time to head back to the hotel.

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