Rudy’s headache went away during the night. Jamaliah’s got worse, however Rudy could not sleep at all.
In the morning the lake was covered with fog and the flamingos were difficult to see. It was cold but we still did not use the diesel heater. If it would have worked at 4230 m remains to be seen. We continued our lovely drive around the salt lake in between the high mountains. Beautiful views around. Some more stops were made for flamingo shooting and to capture the mountains.
The road had deep ridges at some points. Unfortunately we dropped the front right wheel in one of them and heard a loud bang. On inspection the connection of the torsion bar had broken off again! This disrupted the plans to go over the border to Bolivia. La Paz was 400 km away and Arica on the Chilean coast was 250 km away. So we choose Arica. The first 50 km was still the dirt road we were on. We slowly drove on and tried to avoid where possible the washouts. At one point the bridge was washed away and we had to cross a fast flowing stream. The flow was too fast to ask Jamaliah to check how deep it was. Before deciding our next option, we took the opportunity to clean the wc tank. Just when we opted to try a bypass track, a Land Cruiser crossed from the other side. Only then we saw how deep the river is. We dared to take the plunge and came out on the other side without problems. Here Passepartout’s upgrades proved their use again i.e. the 4×4, the div lock, the raised air intake, the screwed on number plate.
We arrived on the tarmac near the border crossing at 4500m and started our way down the road to Arica. The RN11 is the main connection from Bolivia to the ocean. It is therefore full of trucks moving slowly down the mountain. The first 20 km was very rough since the road was under construction and we had to drive in a single lane (of trucks). We have not been driving fast in our travel but here we were stopped by the police. He showed us on his laser gun that we were driving 75km/h instead of the allowed 60km at town area. This was in a beautiful green valley between two huge sand dunes. However he was kind enough to overlook this and let us go.
At 18:00 we drove along the coast south to Arica. Because it was Sunday it was too late for the garage and the laundry. Instead we made a tourist stop at the El Morro of Arica. Here the defending Peruvian army and navy were defeated in 1881 and Chile took over the lucrative coastal desert where Saltpeter was mined and where later copper deposits were found. Bolivia was the main loser of the war and became land locked with only road and train access over Chilean territory to the pacific harbors.
We had a nice and quiet camping spot next to the cemetery in town. The next day Rudy found a mechanic who builds racing buggies and hence was capable of welding the broken parts together again. At 11:00 we were on the way again but now searching for a Laundromat. The first one was in a pedestrian area and the second one on the road out of town. Unfortunately none of them were open so with a large bag of laundry we started our climb again up to Bolivia. In order to acclimatize again, Jamaliah wanted to stop in Putre (3500 m). Here we found a lady who could do our washing and we found a nice parking place along the central square (Plaza de Armas) with free Gov WiFi access (30 min at a time). If all goes well I will post this before we go to sleep. So this is the last update from Chile. Tomorrow it will be Bolivia.