Saturday, June 24, 2006
Took the pass across to Chile through a brilliant valley that ends in a 5 mile tunnel, then drops down on a zigzag highway below the snow line to a valley that leads out of the mountains.
Arriving at Vina del Mar I felt like I was back in California! It is good to be at the beach for a change. I am getting tired of the desert. After a day it was south to Valparaiso and a change of sights.
The town is built on seaside hills that are quite steep, and in the early 1900s the Ascenders were put in around town. They make a good way to get up and down. Most of them are around 100 years old and they run at about a 45-degree angle.
Graffiti here also takes on a new art form! This was one of the best I found. On Sundays at many of the view points on the cliffs, budding artist try selling their wares. Some are very colorful.
So are the houses! This makes for a nice change to plain white houses. This is the local style.
Because of winter conditions, I had to use the same pass I came over to to get back to Argentina. Arriving in the town of Los Andes, I stopped at the market. As I turned in I heard a strange noise, but could not see anything. The next stop was the
service station and the noise got worse, so I found a place where I could take a
closer look. The problem was a wheel bearing, so I went back to town and the noise continued to get worse. At a service station I got directions to a parts shop.
The next thing I had to do was to find a press to remove the old wheel bearing and install the new one. Directions lead me across town. This guy got the job done in one hour, but by this time it was dark, so I had to put it all back together in the dark. After this adventure it was off to Mendoza, Argentina. As a safety thing I got a spare wheel bearing, and a week later I needed it. Same problem with the other side.
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
Valley of the Moon
Continued down Route 40 to Chilecito with a stop at the old mining cableway. This is some 36 ks of cable that go up into the mountains and was used to haul men and equipment in and the ore out. I was quite amazed to find that it was a bucket on-and-off system. Considering that it was made around 1903, this was amazing technology!
Route 40 then heads off into the hills and through an amazing canyon, then on to a flat plain for some hours and the Vally of the Moon. Dinosaur fossils were found here in the 1950s.
Argentina! Salta to Cafayate
Argentina! I tried to cross but the road was closed because of some sort of strike. I was thinking that I might have to take some sort of detour (one day's driving) but when I returned in the morning, all was open. I crossed to Argentina and the car was checked top to bottom, had to take everything out while some guy crawled under (no drug dog here.) It took about one hour. Then I was free to wander the countryside. The first things that came to my attention were street and road signs, more than I have seen for some months! I took a day to get down to Salta. I stopped at the first supermarket. I was able to get fresh bread, ham, cheese etc, things that have been hard to get after Colombia (I am in culture shock!) I stayed at the campground in Salta for a few days. As soon as I got there I was asked if I am German. "No." I could not understand till I looked around. There were 8 German camper vans! It seems that it is quite a good deal to ship from Europe to Argentina. With Argentina comes good beefsteaks and lots of them with red wine! I am in heaven!
I left Salta and started down Route 40 to the town of Cafayate. At first the road was flat and uninteresting. Then it dropped into a river valley with the Andes Mountains to the right and red cliffs to the left.
Arrived at Cafayate in the early afternoon and set up to see some vinyards in the morning.