Sunday, April 19, 2015

Paso Jama and goodbye Argentina

12 April - Sunday. I left Salta at around 8am and got out of town easily enough and made reasonable progress to Jujuy where I filled up with gas, coffee and media luna's. I took the obligatory photo at Pumamarca and headed into the hills. It wasn't long before I was at 2,500 metres and putting on a jersey and installing the jacket liner. I met lots of bikers heading in the opposite direction but only one group of Harley riders passed as I was kitting up for the cold. The road climbed and climbed up a switchback until at 4,700 metres I rode into the clouds. What with stopping all the time I ended up passing a Pullman bus a number of times and was to meet it again at the border. It had some of the kids from the hostel aboard who were also heading to San Pedro de Atacama.
It was an excellent ride over the Argentinian altiplano and across the salt lake. It wasn't until I got to the rest stop in the middle of the lake that I realised that I had been here before. Last time I was going in the opposite direction. There is actually another pass I could have taken but it was mostly ripio and since I had a long day ahead of me I went the easiest route over Paso Jama. At the border I filled up with gas, more coffee and media luna's and swapped what was left of my Argentinian money with a Portuguese couple on a pair of BMW's. Neither of us were returning to the exited country. The border post is new and both Argentinian and Chilean authorities are co-located so in once sense it was easy except I was behind that damned bus so had to wait in line with a bunch of spotty yoofs.
The 150km to Atacama was across the Chilean altiplano and went on for almost the whole distance. At 4,800 metres it started to snow and was freezing plus a savage wind had appeared. Gas consumption was down to 16 k/l. Just as I thought this torture was never going to end the road took a nose dive straight down the side of the mountain and into Atacama. So suddenly I was out of the gloom into sunlight and a town in the blowing dust. There could never be a greater contract.
My concern over finding accommodation was ill-founded since there were places to stay everywhere. In the end I accepted the proposition of a woman who accosted me in the street to stay at here employers place. So here I am at 25,000 pesos a night for four nights, breakfast and parking included. Only issue is that I am back to the "no toilet paper down the toilet please". There is a bucket provided. This is a time when shared toilet facilities might be a blessing.
The obligatory shot at Pumamarca

A bikers delight.

Altiplano salt flats in Argentina

Llama's - cute little beggars

Paso Jama

Altiplano at around 4,800 metres



San Pedro de Atacama


Town centre and its cafe culture

Used since the 18th century. Now getting a face lift.

San Pedro de Atacama

Adobe and dirt streets

Chiloe - my accommodation

No comments: