Sunday, November 06, 2011

Argentina - Misadventures on the Road to Cachi - January 2011

With new friends from the Backpacker Soul hostel, Claire from England (Clarabella) and Jonas from Holland (BB), our journey took us on a loop from Salta to Cafayate to Cachi and back to Salta.

The 4'hour drive to Cafayate was beautiful, passing through red-rock quebradas (canyons) and stopping to hike around. Devils´Throat was an exciting stop, it was huge and the angles played tricks on your mind. The scenery was breathtaking, such gorgeous vistas!!!

Cafayate, Argentina, a picturesque town surrounded by vineyards, was delightful. We took a tour of a vineyard, sampled wine (my friends appreciated my glass!), had dinner in the square.

It was a busy evening, with families walking around, jugglers and other performers in the streets, people riding bikes, it was the first time I´d ever seen bicycles built for THREE! Ha! Of course, in a place where a bicycle built for one has 3+ people on it, you can imagine how many can fit on one designed for 3! Haha!

The next day, we headed out again, enroute to Cachi. The road was unpaved, but in remarkable good shape for what we were expecting. I did most of the driving, as I was the only one with my driver´s license on me. We passed through gorgeous quebradas of different scenery, in some places we felt we were on the moon or in fairy tales!

Upon arrival into Cachi, we had a nice time walking around and had lunch at this little hole in the wall that had the best carne empanadas! Delish! Cachi is a lovely little town, with cobblestone streets and kind people. It was as we were leaving town, when things started to get interesting...

Note: When we got the rental, it was only 3/4 full, and the gal said if we fill up in Cachi, we would be at 3/4 tank on arrival in Salta.
That would have worked out well, except there was NO GAS in Cachi. Literally. The gas station was OUT OF GAS! The next station was not for about 75 kilometers! With 1/4 of a tank, we crossed our fingers and hoped it would get us to the next station.

As we drove from Cachi towards Parque Nacional Los Cardones, we started to get nervous. It was all uphill!! It took 1/4 of a tank to get us to the entrance of the park, and we still had about 50 kilometers to go!!! According to the guidebooks and rental car company and road signs, the drive through the park is a treacherous, windy unpaved road. To add to that, the conditions were terrible - it was raining and so foggy that we couldn´t see more than ten feet in front of us. We pulled over, knowing that there was no way we were going to make it to Salta. It was not a good situation.

Across the highway was a ranger station. Jonas went to check it out, and Clara and I stayed in the car and said a few prayers. The ranger didn´t have the kind of gas we needed, but he gave us a hose to siphen gas if we could get someone to pull over.

EVERYONE who came by pulled over to see if they could help!!!! It was so nice! Even a tour bus pulled over! Ha! Unfortunately, they all had diesel cars and trucks! They all left us with concerned looks and a ´buena suerte´ and we waited anxiously for the next car...

Finally, this sweet couple pulled over, and they had the right kind of gas! Hooray! Jonas, BB, took one for the team and started to siphen the gas. It only worked for about 1/2 liter. The couple said it was uphill for just a few kilometers up the road and then it was downhill the rest of the way. They had us go in front of them and they followed in case we ran out of gas completely and needed a lift.

Jonas, now named BBSuperman, took the wheel. We literally COASTED for 42 kilometers down a very windy mountain through the rain and fog, followed by our angels. The 1/2 liter of gas we siphened really came in handy the last 6 k's to the gas station!

At the station, we met up with many of the people who had pulled over to see if we needed help. It was like a huge party at the gas station, everyone cheering that we made it! It was great!!!! We were relieved and grateful to have made it safely, and to have been blessed to have such wonderful people willing to help out in a sketchy situation.

It was a great roadtrip, an amazing adventure, a true bonding experience...After the Misadventures on the Road To Cachi, Clarabella, BB, and Cocobean decided to continue their travels together - on to Bolivia! But that, my friends, is another story...


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