We woke up in the morning with lotsa excitement once more, and fully prepared for what the next two days would bring.
The first surprise came with our black Gol we were waiting for in the morning. The surprise was our black Gol was… white! It had changed color over night and had acquired a few scratches and bumps too, now all covered in gypsum. The guy who brought it mumbled something about this being the only available one blah blah, and because we knew we didn’t have time to argue we just went along with it and accepted the white baby instead. We were all geared up with picnic food, candies and of course our mate (we had even bought a special thermos just for the trip) so we jumped in, buckled up and hit the pedal.
The next surprise of the day was that our little white car’s tank was almost empty (as opposed to our little black cars’ tank which had been full), so we had to find our way to a gas station before finding our way out of town. We got into the first one we saw and we were surprised and amused when the guy said “I can only give you for 100 pesos, we don’t have much left”, but we didn’t think much of it. “We’ll just get another 100 in the next town” we said to each other, then started rolling. Little did we know…
We had an incredible ride for the first few hours on a road that goes through a rain forest and there are very few vehicles around, as the buses and most cars just take the highway to get to the next city. We were pretty much the only ones on the road, latin music blasting from our speakers, wind blowing in our hair (or was it the aircon maybe?), light in our eyes and sparkles in our voices. Munching away on our carrots, we felt like the healthiest and happiest backpackers in the world!!
All the windings of the road did get to me at some point though…
Me: I’d really appreciate if I didn’t throw up on this trip.
Jess: I’d appreciate too if you didn’t throw up in this trip.
Boca: I’ll just settle for surviving this trip.
Silviu: Yes, that’s what I’m talking about! Low expectations are they key!!
After having a good laugh we felt happy we decided on low expectations, because if we had any we had expected the rain forest we were going through to actually look like one.
Boca: So which bit did they say was going to be the rain forest?
Jess (looking at the map): Hmmm… this one we’re on right now actually.
Me: Maybe the rain forest is only in the forest, not on the road.
Boca: Or maybe it’s only a rain forest when it rains…
Jess: Yeah, otherwise it’s just a g..damn forest!
We eventually got to the next city and our priority was filling up our tank as we had been told we’d not be able to find any gas North of that point. The first gas station we went to didn’t have any of the type we needed. When the guy said: “You won’t find any in this city, it’s been scarce for a week”, we started to suspect something was terribly wrong. What do you mean gas is scarce? What had happened in the world and we were so unaware of?? (That’s one thing when traveling, we mostly get our world news from the other travelers… and that’s really not a whole lot of news…) We refused to believe the horror of what he was telling us, so we went to another gas station where they told us all the same. Then another, and by this time the black thought of our road trip being ruined was beginning to take seed in our minds.
‘So where can we find some then??’ I asked the boy at the third gas station with what must have been a pretty desperate look on my face. He just shrugged his shoulders. I couldn’t believe that was his reply, but before I had a change to pour out my wrath ‘What do you mean you don’t know??? Why do you work here then?? Why do you live in this city?? Why were you born on this planet then??” another driver who was near us overheard me and intervened: “Miss, you won’t find this type of gas here in the city, but there’s a petrol station 10km back towards Salta and they had it there in the morning. Let me give them a call to see if they still do’. A..a…a…and the gates of Heaven had been opened! There was a God in the end, and he had sent his angel over to help (maybe he was the angel of the boy in the gas station though, sent to save him of my deadly speech :D). He made the call and wouldn’t you know it, the other people still had our gas!!
We turned around immediately and raced back towards Salta, just to realise 15km later we had taken the wrong road back. All the policemen we encountered on the way were super helpful people though, so in the end we managed to find some gas at another gas station and we could finally breathe again and be back on our way North.
Once our car’s fuel was taken care of, we realised we needed some fuel for ourselves as well – our stomachs had started to send us signals it was time for picnic. We parked on the side of the road and found the perfect spot, among little hills and big cactuses. While coming out of the car with our bags of food Boca asked: “So… do we have a table cloth?” Jess’s reply was immediate “Of course, what are we, animals??”. Of course we didnt have one, and we didn’t have a proper knife or any cups for our drinking yogurt either, but we had a magnificent lunch nevertheless, going back to basics, going back to nature. As the lizards are our witnesses!
We drove on with our stomachs full and our hearts even fuller and we eventually made it to the 7 Colors Mountain, the symbol of that part of the country. We had a very nice stroll around and managed to get separated, so we spend way longer there than we had planned to. That put us on an around the clock race up to the Salinas Grandes, one of the largest salt flats in the world, to make it there before sunset.
We raced and we did get there just in time to see the sun still up and take a few pictures, then 15 minutes later see it hide under the far away salt and let complete darkness set in together with a bone chilling cold we could not stand for more than 2 minutes. We jumped back in the car and drove the next 3 hours in the dark, up to Humahuaca where we had planned to overnight.
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