57 Days Abroad

Day 35. Antofagasta 17 hours Later


Day 35.

The road north of Santiago to Antofagasta is basically all desert and non-scenic and that’s what we saw for 1,315 kilometers when we weren’t sleeping. The guy I sat next to said it was the biggest dessert in the Americas. At brief points, the Pacific Coast was visible but that was rare. Along the way, we randomly saw a huge hand statue. We were able to snap a quick photo from the road but it would have been nice to get up close to it.

We were nearing 4:45pm and then our bus attendant came in and told us we were approaching Antofagasta and about 10 minutes from the bus terminal. Antofagasta seems like an oasis compared to everything we had just driven through. Using the phone of the brother I was sitting next to, I informed my family in Antofagasta we were close so that we could get picked up. My dad and another friend picked us up and took us to my Uncle Pablo’s place.

My three cousins and aunt were at the house and my uncle came home after his work. It was nice seeing them because it’s been sometime. The house is spacious and has a great view of the ocean from the terrace. We got cleaned up and had a bite to eat. They had their meeting tonight so we got to catch that. It was really nice to meet the friends. Spur of the moment, Tallon says to me, “It would be cool to play soccer here,” and I turned to the kids and asked if they play fútbol. Of course they did and then they asked us if we wanted to play tomorrow. And of course we did so we got a game planned for tomorrow. After the meeting, we walked to an Italian restaurant and had a good dinner. We went home and then I knocked out a few hours of needed work before going to bed (past 4am).

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3 Comments

    Photo: piscochile

    It looks like the extremity of a giant man, buried by a monumental sandstorm. In the wasteland of Chile’s Atacama Desert, 75 km to the south of the city of Antofagasta, a strange and unexpected sight confronts the eye: four fingers, a thumb and part of a palm, emerging from the sand. Set against the azure sky, this surreal giant hand is of course not made of flesh but stone. Called “Mano de Desierto”, or “Hand of the Desert”, it is a piece of art that grabs those who see it like no other.

    Photo: Alain Derksen

    The work of Chilean sculptor Mario Irarrázabal, the massive sculpture rises 36 feet in the air atop a base made of iron and cement. The piece was constructed at an elevation of 3608 feet above sea level on the virtually rainless plateau of the Atacama Desert – the driest in the world. Yet despite its isolated and arid location, vehicles regularly pull up and people pile out to take in the desert artwork – a must stop for those travelling along the Panamerican Highway since its inauguration in 1992.

    Photo: The Photographer Berlin

    After studying philosophy and art at the University of Notre Dame, IN, and theology at the Università Gregoriana Pontificia in Rome, artist Mario Irarrázabal trained under the German sculptor Otto Waldemar. He first exhibited his work in Chile in 1970, using the human figure to express themes such as injustice, loneliness, sorrow and torture. The exaggerated proportions like those evident in the “Hand of the Desert” are seen to emphasise human vulnerability and helplessness.

    Photo: cruz fr

    You might think such an exceptional sculpture was one of a kind, but hands are a recurring subject in Irarrázabal’s work. “Monumento al Ahogado”, the “Monument to the Drowned”, is an earlier and more well-known sculpture completed by the artist in 1982 consisting of five fingers partially submerged by sand on a beach in Punta del Este, a popular resort town in Uruguay. Similar sculptures were also created by Irarrázabal in Madrid in 1987 and Venice in 1995.

    Photo: cruz fr

    Yet despite these other works, the hand rising from the Atacama Desert retains its own mystique, perhaps because of the barren landscape on which it stands. Graffiti sometimes besmirches the colossal structure so it must occasionally be cleaned, but otherwise “Mano de Desierto” is well-preserved and will likely stay that way for years to come. Who knows? This uncanny monument to the human form may well remain long after we are gone from this world.

    Photo: Marcos Escalier

  • Photo: piscochile

    It looks like the extremity of a giant man, buried by a monumental sandstorm. In the wasteland of Chile’s Atacama Desert, 75 km to the south of the city of Antofagasta, a strange and unexpected sight confronts the eye: four fingers, a thumb and part of a palm, emerging from the sand. Set against the azure sky, this surreal giant hand is of course not made of flesh but stone. Called “Mano de Desierto”, or “Hand of the Desert”, it is a piece of art that grabs those who see it like no other.

    Photo: Alain Derksen

    The work of Chilean sculptor Mario Irarrázabal, the massive sculpture rises 36 feet in the air atop a base made of iron and cement. The piece was constructed at an elevation of 3608 feet above sea level on the virtually rainless plateau of the Atacama Desert – the driest in the world. Yet despite its isolated and arid location, vehicles regularly pull up and people pile out to take in the desert artwork – a must stop for those travelling along the Panamerican Highway since its inauguration in 1992.

    Photo: The Photographer Berlin

    After studying philosophy and art at the University of Notre Dame, IN, and theology at the Università Gregoriana Pontificia in Rome, artist Mario Irarrázabal trained under the German sculptor Otto Waldemar. He first exhibited his work in Chile in 1970, using the human figure to express themes such as injustice, loneliness, sorrow and torture. The exaggerated proportions like those evident in the “Hand of the Desert” are seen to emphasise human vulnerability and helplessness.

    Photo: cruz fr

    You might think such an exceptional sculpture was one of a kind, but hands are a recurring subject in Irarrázabal’s work. “Monumento al Ahogado”, the “Monument to the Drowned”, is an earlier and more well-known sculpture completed by the artist in 1982 consisting of five fingers partially submerged by sand on a beach in Punta del Este, a popular resort town in Uruguay. Similar sculptures were also created by Irarrázabal in Madrid in 1987 and Venice in 1995.

    Photo: cruz fr

    Yet despite these other works, the hand rising from the Atacama Desert retains its own mystique, perhaps because of the barren landscape on which it stands. Graffiti sometimes besmirches the colossal structure so it must occasionally be cleaned, but otherwise “Mano de Desierto” is well-preserved and will likely stay that way for years to come. Who knows? This uncanny monument to the human form may well remain long after we are gone from this world.

    Photo: Marcos Escalier

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