Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did.
So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. --- Mark Twain

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Paso de Jama

Day 1128,
121 549 km since the beginning of the journey.
The Route: Susques – Paso de Jama (ie Argentina Chile border) – San Pedro de Atacama (267 km)

Paso de Jama.

Abra de Acay, ie the highest point on the Ruta 40 will currently be unvisited. As the allowed time of staying in Argentina (90 days) will end soon. And besides in such a sparsely populated area one should always have some spare time for getting around. And on nice weather Polvorilla viaduct and its surroundings are worth to spend there at least half a day. So it does not make sense to drive to the spot in a hurry, take some pictures from the car window before a cloud of dust reaches on the ground, and then drive to the direction of Chile anyway. So better calmly proceed toward Chile.

In these large border stations the formalities usually take little time. A car of foreign registration number generally does not cause special excitement. The baggage of a big passanger bus that reached the place in front of me will be checked and x-rayed and of course more time is spent there.

It is convienient that both – the officials of Argentina and the Chilian officials are in the same room. So it all goes very fast – just a look inside the car. I knew that neither fresh fruit nor vegetables were allowed to take to the country and as I had no fridge either – it took less than a minute.

And that's all this time.

The border itself is a a few kilometers further, in the altitude of 4320 meters.

Chile is ahead.

And Argentina is on that side.

Salar de Quisiquiro


Not much traffic but the road barriers have been driven down in many places.

The road is taking higher, and the first gear suits best for getting on. It`s about 15 km per hour, and you could say that's theres no rush, but actually there is not enough oxygen in the air to use the second gear.

Finally the hills are overcome and a long descent from 4800 meters to 2400 meters begins. On a longer and straighter part of the road - a Mercedes with the raised bonnet catches the eye. And next to it the busy driver – with a 5 liter water bottle in his hand. It's not such a common activity by this kind of the car, and just in case I make a stop and ask if everything is still ok.

The first answer is affirmative but then it was said that actually not. This means that all of the water, poured in, will flow out from the bottom and the engine will not start. And it has lasted for an hour. And it is already five, and in case they don`t manage to leave it will be quite cold to spend the night there. And the car has Paraguay number-plate so that they are not locals.

There is not much choice – if their car had had manual transmission I would have towed them to the next populated place but this car has automatic transmission, and there`s more than 40 kilometers of descent ahead , the difference in height is over 2 kilometers. And when the engine is not running, then there is no sense to talk about brakes. I propose to take them to San Pedro de Atacamasse, and then they deal with the problem there. Using tugging. Chile is a developed country, fortunately enough. In the evening, I see them randomly in town, and they confirm that the situation is under control, and the car will be brought from the mountains tomorrow .

San Pedro de Atacama, and llamas and sheep in the streets of the city.



and GPS trail

View Larger Map

Continued ... About the surroundings of San Pedro de Atacama in the following posts.

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