Pushing those pedals through grey sand and rocks for 72 km on a winding and hilly off road, the riders are at one with this stunning Chilean terrain. They do not only see the mountains on their right (east as we go north up the coast) and the Pacific Ocean on their left but they experience them in their full majesty.
Muscles are sore, bodies are tired and yet, glimpsing sight of the camping area thrills.
We have reached a true Ghost Town. El Higuero is where there was once a small miners’ settlement and it was abandoned many years ago. Virtually no one comes here anymore.
That is, except for our adventurous group of cycling explorers!
Isolated from any highways or local traffic, we are in a setting of 8 or 9 ruins dating from around 1870. The stone buildings have no roofs and the wooden and stone crosses marking the graves in the little stone walled cemetery (yes, there is a cemetery in our ghost town…spooky but hey, we’re fearless…) are wind worn but still standing.
As each rider pitched their tent alongside the crumbled walls of the ruins, for some protection from the wind, individuals called out “Hey, I found an old helmet-a miner’s helmet? It is rusty and cracked and very old-who know how many years it’s been here?”
Another picks up some turquoise and blue rocks that are scattered all over the area and we realize together that the greenish-blue is oxidized copper (many copper, silver and gold mines in northern Chile and not far from here) and the blue ones are probably lapis.
We cycle through a rocky desert and turns out we are surrounded by precious metals and stones! The riders’ discipline and persistence brings them rewards and treasures …of many different kinds.
— Ruth Schonblum