We apparently need to rebuild part of the engine. We’re burning oil and it looks like we need new pistons and rings. It hasn’t been that long since our last piston ring failure – not too sure what to say about that. But, the Andes are tough on an old VW.
Jason talked to Luis, who talked to a friend, Mickey, who offered up some space in his shop for us to do the work ourselves. But, as things tend to go, we wouldn’t be able to get the parts for several more days – with no exact date. And, Mickey had other obligations that would prevent him from keeping his shop open all the time. There was just no telling how long we could be stuck here if we ripped the engine apart. So, we opted for loading up with oil and taking off and hoping for the best. We’ll keep an eye on it.
On our ride here, we were surprised at the sharp difference in landscapes – from desert to cloud forest to fertile valley. In the city, the streets are lined with loaded orange trees. Outside of town, there were entire trucks filled with lemons.
On our drive out of town, we were in rural villages set in sugar cane fields, with donkeys pulling carts. Another half hour and we were climbing back up the mountains. In fact, some para-gliders stopped us for a ride back up the mountain to go get their car. Bode is adamant about going paragliding and Jason thinks he’s ready. I’m not sure of the recommended age for a tandem flight, but it’s probably not 6.
The road was full of hairpin turns back and forth up one side of the mountain. Up in the cloud forest, there were mosses and orchids and again, completely different scenery.
Up top, we had to stop for a quick snowball fight. The other side of the mountain had ranches and then turned back to desert. Giant cacti and shrub, and a desert fox or two.
The road down the mountain was absolutely amazing. This route gives La Ruta de Muerte a run for it’s money. Incredible scenery and a spectacularly winding descent.
We had a bizarre run-in at a police checkpoint at the provincial border. We think the cop was either just a goofball or bored and wanted to chat, but the conversation did get weird. Among the questions has asked were if we were brother and sister (yeah, that’s our kid). He even asked our religion. We decided we’d be Catholic for a few minutes and this appeased him enough to let us pass.
Just before dark we pulled into a free municipal park in Andalgala right on the river. It was beautiful from a distance, but it was completely covered in garbage. It was a bit surprising, seeing that we had just commented on how the litter situation had drastically improved since getting to Argentina.