So it ends... Our lovely home for the last 6 months finally gave up her ghost on a pass near Volcon Licancabur about 80 km from the Argentine border. We had pulled over to check on some folks who had overheated (easy to do, the road had no switchbacks to mellow the incline, just a straight shot up over 5000ft), and agreed to take the woman and children up to the top of the pass to ease the strain on the little Renault they had jammed with 7 people. Almost immediately we had issues- power was cutting in and out, it felt like someone had put a banana in our tail pipe! We struggled for over an hour to get up over the pass to no avail. Claudette has eaten passes like this for breakfast over the last two months in the Andes- even at several thousand feet higher, so we knew we had a problem. We turned the van around, but due to the giant ski slope of a road, and having the power cutting out (power brakes), we knew we were in a pickle...
Now Linds and I had plenty of time to discuss our future while on the road and it was kinda assumed that at our most southern point, as the trip was winding down I would ask her to marry me. I certainly had not prepared for that a few days ago when the van broke, but as it looked like we might not be getting too much further south the moment was at hand! She said yes (!!!) and as we kneeled there hugging and wiping our eyes, our attention was drawn to the only other car we had seen in the last hour or so coming down toward us. Thumbs went out and we loaded up our gear into the cab of an 18 wheeler for the two hour ride back into San Pedro de Atacama.
The last few days have been nuts. We have learned from some online friends, panamnotes.com and bodeswell.com, who are traveling in Chile and Argentina to our south that gasoline has been very hard to come by. Sounds crazy, but both groups have had to wait over a week in spots while gas was being trucked in and rationed off. We both knew that having to be back in the states in less than a month for work and to reclaim our dogs, a lengthy and costly repair on a rig that was not coming back with us was ill advised. Plus we're a little homesick. Linds and I reflected on the last six months over a few boxes of vino and decided to cut our losses, sell the van for what we could and shoot back to the states.
|Over 150 days and 16,000 miles...|
|our hostel at the end of the road|
|the road that ate our lunch...from 7900ft to over 13000ft in nearly a strait line|
|salt canyon in the Atacama Desert, the driest in the world|
|Arica, in northern Chile.|
|Some beach time after a border stop|
|final plate of ceviche|
|working my first car deal in over six months! looking forward to many more|