So the first step in fixing a problem is admitting you have one...so here goes- we're super bad at updating our blog. That's our bad, it's totally on us, and has nothing to do with you. Can we start over? Thanks. Glad that ugliness is behind us, let's never fight again.
Last you heard from us, we were departing the great vast northness of north Chile and heading to Putre, and then south. It's hard to catch up on so much, but let's give it a go yeah? Yeah? YEAH!
We departed Arica with little fanfair, but would a little good-bye parade be that hard to organize, you guys? Enhancement opportunities for mayors and heads of state in other cities/countries we'll eventually be departing from in the future. We pointed 'ol Masi, still running like a dream by the way, straight at Putre situated 14,000 feet above sea level and started the climb. When I tell you that climbing from 60 feet below sea level up to 14,000 in just three-four hours is a bad idea, please listen to me. Maybe you don't know, but our slovenly western bodies have no clue what's occurring at that altitude, and the following tale will illustrate that. But first, the road there.
To get that high, that fast, you really need to climb- which in an old VW kombi means second gear most of the time. Switch backs, gorgeous views, overtaking slow trucks and being overtaken by faster ones really spices up the trip. During one crucial switchback turn, meaning making a turn 180 degrees, a recently overturned truck carrying FRIGGIN SAND basically buried the turn in a couple feet of sand which had not yet been cleaned up. If you've been following our story or know our vehicle, you will know that Masi doesn't deal well with the stuff. Fortunately, I'm an awesome driver and had no choice but to drive and fish tail our way through the granular muck, so we gunned it through, high-fived and continued upward. We took frequent stops to let Masi cool off, to chew coca leaves (helps but only when you're chewing it), and take photos. Along the way we even met a Chilean guy biking the entire country, north to south in Patagonia and had a great chat for 30 minutes, gave him some water and made a new friend. Check out his facebook page at Ignacio Viajero if you're interested in his trip or think we're a couple of no-good liars.
After a beautiful, if very steep drive, we arrived in the sleepy mountain of Putre to find some good eats and pick out a camping spot. We ate a decent meal, bought Shannon a rocking alpaca sweater (for like $10 USD, word to yo moms on the bargains Putre), and then drove back into some passes to camp out overlooking the mountains at massive altitude. The plan was to wake early, check out the highest lake in the world, then drive back down and continue south. The sunset was amazing, the moon rising like a rock star over mountain ranges above us was surreal, and really the only bad part was when we both woke up in the middle of the night with Shannon vomiting and me feeling like my brain was trying to exit through my eyeballs due to altitude sickness. So yeah, after Shannon's fourth or fifth time vomiting, and both us feeling like death, I made the decision to GTFO and drive back down a wicked steep mountain pass in the dark at 4 or 5am. Also, given that Masi didn't want to start the evening before and I had to roll her down a hill and jumpstart her, we were both scared she'd be too cold to get us to safety. Fortunately, Masi is awesome and fired up right away. The next three hours were white knuckle driving with me mostly in neutral as we coasted down steep passes to conserve fuel. The overturned sand truck mess was still not cleaned up, and even massive trucks were not getting up anymore and blocking the pass, so we waited to turn to attempt it. Again, me = awesome driver, and I nailed it first time.
After coming down from our altitude nightmare, we decided to splurge and get a nice hotel right on the beach and get some sleep after going well over 30 hours without any. We napped, ordered room service, and planned out our next moves. Great hotel, PanAmerica Arica Hotel, and they had some boss ass cocoa flakes at the buffet for breakfast, so I was pretty amped. From there we took off to the city where everyone knows your name....Iquique! Halfway point, good place to meet a Chilean copper miner, and also get a desperately needed oil change.
NEXT BLOG: we get an oil change, slept in a golf course, then blew out a tire, jack, and stayed in the "worst city in the world". STAY TUNED YOU GUYS.