Since Jamaliah managed to remove the broken spring part, there was not much noise suggesting that something was wrong with the camper. We did bounce a bit more over the humps and holes in the road but for the rest, the drive over the road from Salta south was smooth. The zooming noise of the driveshaft was still there but less noticable when driving above 80 km. On most of the road that was possible so we made great progress. Each day some 400+ km till we reached our Argentinean friend, James (whom we met on our posting in Nigeria/Oman) and his wife Mirta in Las Varillas, some 180 km east of Cordoba. We first drove slowly down the valley from Sucre at 1050 m down into the plains at 160 m. The outside temperature increases and the sky filled up with clouds. The scenery is green. Plantations with wheat, potato’s Alfa, and soybeans are left and right of the road. Some large area’s are not cultivated and the cactus and scrub trees dominated. The first night on the trek south, we stayed at a YPF petrol station. The campsite with a hot spring in the town (Termas rio Honda) was just too expensive. (at least a lot more than is mentioned in iOverlander). That was to be expected because the town was full with hotels etc taking advantage of the nearby natural thermal resource. The second day we stopped at the Jesuit Estancia in Jesus Maria. It was our first Jesuit monastery and left a good impression. It is sober and functional. Very thick walls and arches around the court yard. It also has a nice outside garden and an area for wine making. Opposite the monastery is a small restaurant so Jamaliah finally had her meal out. Unfortunately the menu was more snacks than a meal. The night was spent camping next to the local soccer field. At 4:00 am there were more and more noisy people gathering at the end of the road. Rudy did not like it that much and crawled out of bed and moved the car a few streets away. We always have the driver’s seat free for such night time displacements.
For some reason Rudy thought James lived just south of Cordoba so we could visit the city with his house as base. However when finally plotting the location on the map it was still a 240 km drive. At around 14:00 hrs James opened up the gate of his farm and we drove in. The large single story house is located on the rim of the village with an open view over the fields towards the sunset. He has several horses, sheep and cows grazing around the house and 4 dogs run up to meet you. Mirta went to work in the kitchen and before we could unpack the camper a lunch was ready for us. What a luxury after 94 nights in the camper. James had bought the land and built the house when we were still working together in Nigeria (2000). At that time I had promised to visit him at his hacienda. Their hospitality here is warming. Hopefully I can avoid putting all the kilo’s back on which I just lost on the trip. It is now Sunday. Monday we will go into town and hopefully find a garage to give the camper a good checkup so at least we know which parts to bring back from Europe in October.