Skip to main content

From Argentina to Chile: Crossing of the Andes

July 2006

Lamas provide wool and meat


We were at a museum, where the entrance fee for foreigners was 10 pesos, for Argentines only 3 pesos. At the ticket booth, we answered in Spanish. The cashier wanted to know where we came from and whether we were already jubilarios (old-age pensioners). Upon our answer that yes, we were retired, we had to pay only 3 pesos for the entry. Well, getting older definitely has its advantages.

To reach Chile, we had to cross the Andes. The altitude of the Argentine border station is at some 4200 m, the road then climbs even higher over kilometers, only to descend on the remaining 50 km of winding road to San Pedro de Atacama (at 2300 m). We spent one week in Humahuaca at 3000 meters and untertook Kawi excursions until altitudes of up to 4300 m. Our body got used to the low oxygen level of the air and we did not experience any major problems during the three nights we slept at an altitude of over 4000 m.

For emergencies, we had brought oxygen bottles from Switzerland (the size of hairspray cans), designed for mountain climbers. In a local pharmacy, we bought medicine against altitude sickness. These tablets were sold by the piece. "Ask our physician or your pharmacist and read the package insert", as the saying goes ... only one does not get the latter when buying the pills by the piece ...

The road from Salta to Jujuy

We decided to take the road from Salta to Jujuy, but not the fast road. Rather soon, this road became narrow, winding and it was difficult to see what was coming ahead. The landscape became tropical, trees with various parasitic plants stood along the sides, it was humid, the vegetation was covered in clouds of fog. All of a sudden, on­coming traffic, too fast - but the driver was lucky. Nevertheless, it was the first time that a local was not happy to see us. No wonder, he got a fright and the following Argentine even threatened to go and get the police. Why? We should not drive such a large truck on such a narrow road, he said. There were road signs signaling a 5 meter width of the road and winding stretches, but there was no weight limit on any of the bridges ... and no turning space either, so that we drove the remaining 25 km, and later even crossed the public service bus. There are obviously different views to the same situation.

In the hot spas de Reyes we talked about everything under the sun with the Argentines, while lying in the swimming pool. That's the best way to learn a language and to get to know the locals.

If we were to charge for all the pictures taken of Action Mobil Robusto, we would most certainly be able to finance a large part of our travel expenses. There were so many people posing in front of Robusto, all smiles as if they were the owner in person.

It was 13 years ago that, on a trip to Libya, we first met Freddy and Rita. It was quite a surprise to see them driving into the camping site of Salta. Long and hard nights followed ...

"Do it yourself" by Brigitte

On a Monday, while Edy was enjoying his siesta, he all of a sudden heard a scream of horror coming from the bathroom. Brigitte hat wanted to cut her hair with the hair trimmer. She used the shortest of the set-up pieces and set the hair length to very short. With these settings she started to cut her hair in the area where most people wear their middle parting. Only when, blocked by too much hair, the device started to stutter, did Brigitte look into the mirror. She was too horrified to even think of shedding some tears. After all, hair grows back, fortunately! The lesson to learn is: Never touch the hair trimming machine on a Monday, hairdressers don't work either on Monday.

After 109 days, 5200 km, 28 camp sites, plenty of wonderful pictures and experiences of Argentina, we have now reached Chile.

At the border, we were welcomed very friendly by the officials - which augurs well.

See you soon!

Edy and Brigitte