As we drove back to the main road we saw a living thing among all the rocks, cactuses and dustiness. It was noone else but the old man we had given a lift to! He had been waiting there for his bus for more than an hour now, so we were happy we could in the end give him a lift to the nearest town. He got in the front seat and we drove in silence for a while, all of us in a deeply reflective mood.
At some point I had the feeling something was not quite right with the car, as if something had happened to the tire below me. The road was full of rocks and holes, so even though the thought bothered me I didn’t say anything, thinking it was just the way it feels driving on such a road. At some point I saw Silviu acting very confused as well, so we finally stopped the car only to discover the left back tire was flat in every sense of the word…
We had been the only ones on the road ever since the lagoon, but the moment we stopped we noticed not one, but two other vehicles stopping with us. One of them was the bus our Argentinian grandpa was waiting for, and it stopped right in front of us, and the other one was a van that stopped behind us. Both drivers got out of their vehicles, took over our car and it’s tools and within 5 minutes gave it back to us fully functional. Silviu was helping them out while the rest of us were still very puzzled not only that we got the flat tire, but that of all the places, it happened exactly then and there when the other 2 vehicles were around us…
We thanked the two drivers from our heart (after getting over the shock that the bus driver had let all the passengers wait while helping us out) and we started again, driving much slower than before and being sunk in even deeper thoughts. By the time we got back to the paved road we knew we were not going to make it in time for most of the things we had planned to see. We chose three – the ruins, the colored mountains and the thermals, and since the first two were outdoors we had to make sure we got there before sunset. Well, in our rush we ended up passing by the ruins without realising, and got to the mountains 10 minutes before the sun completely disappeared behind the big rocks. Unfortunately even the 10 minutes didn’t help at all, as the mountains were completely in the shade and the colors were not standing out in any way. Oh well… next time :). We at least managed to stop for a few minutes at the place marking the Tropic of the Capricorn and think about hemispheres and how many times we’ve crossed from one to the other in the past few months.
We kept driving and dreaming of the thermals as the perfect ending to a day when nothing had gone according to plan. We knew it was in Jujuy, so we got there all ready to dive in around 8pm, but just to discover the thermals were another 30km away…and since we were unable to find out whether they would still be open at that time, we had to let that one go as well. We got back to the hostel in Salta amazed at how nothing we had planned for the day actually came true… yet we had such a fulfilling, fantastic and full of learning day. And I’m sure God had a pretty good laugh too!!
The biggest learning? Life is one big road trip, and it’s up to us to see it and make the best of it. What a fabulous way to end our 2 months adventure in Argentina…:). And good preparation for Paraguay!!
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