Well, we made it safely to our intended destination and I’m writing these notes from Hotel Posta del Sol in Maimara, where we also stayed in 2005. The owners tell us that Guillermo has stopped coming. We still like it, as we have no Argentina money and they were happy to accept US Dollars against a good rate.
The day was not without adventure. We wasted the usual half an hour to find the Copec in San Pedro, which appears to have moved and is now in the grounds of a new hotel / cabaña complex.
We made it to the Custom’s Control area and queued behind busses and trucks. The guy stamping our passports was on the phone to his girlfriend and mechanically stamped the papers. But it all went faster than anticipated.
I then retraced the tyre marks that we laid on 19 May 2001, when our clutch burnt out at around 4,000 m and we made the decent to San Pedro (at 2,400) rather faster than we had climbed up, coasting down without the breaking power of the engine. It became clearer how we had survived that ride, as the road was really quite straight and had a few slightly uphill stretches that would have slowed us down.
Still, I was pleased to have survived this journey then and to do it this time in (still) the best behaved pick up I know. Yes, I know, don’t tempt faith!
160 km and some 4 hours later we were taking pictures of Juan next to the signs welcoming him to Argentina. Next we played the queuing game again, but this time, when it came to our turn, the on the ball official spotted that our friend in San Pedro had used the ‘entry to Chile’ stamp, rather than the ‘exit’ stamp, even though he had taken our exit yellow slip. After a few minutes of discussion, with queues building, he decided that the easiest thing was to let us through, but not before warning us that we could have problems coming back into Chile later.
The rest of the day passed without excitement other than seeing impressive views and cacti. When we got back at the hotel, we confirmed our suspicion that in picking the only spot where we could park the car safely, we had repeated the Impressive Trichocereus pasacana stop from 2005. (S1046d). But for convenience, all pictures today are grouped under one stop number – S1046 San Pedro de Atacama to Maimara.
Back in the UK with a need to be more precise it’s tempting to provide more detailed stop data:
S1046a: The border control at San Pedro de Atacama
S1046b: the sign indicating the actual border
S1046c: ‘Pasacana Canyon’, Argentina, beautiful stands of Echinopsis (Trichocereus) atacamensis ssp pasacana
S1046d: Scenery off Ruta 9, south of Maimara