Wednesday, 10.03.2010: leaving Aucanquilcha

10 Mar
Now that I’ve reached my goal – I still can’t believe it – it was time to leave and follow the Andes to the north. There was three ways:
-go back to Ollagüe (steep and bad road down, loosing to much height and much more kilometers on a bad road)
-take the road the cabiñeros of Ollagüe told me (more kilometers as well and not seen from the mountain)
-take the road I had seen on google earth which is direct to Yuma, but which the cabiñeros did not recommend because of its sand.

Despite the fact that it was not recommended, I took the third one. And I think it was agood solution. The first kilometers are passing on a future salar (quite hard sand) and then slowly go down to the Salar of Charcotte, where the cabiñeros told me there is a therm. I saw my first free living owl sitting on a rock and the bushes smelt like pine-tree, just a little bit sweeter. The road is quite cool and would be even more fun without the trailer. Ray: I was thinking to you, you would enjoy that one!
Well, the part that was not funny started with the non-existent therms and with the uphill on sand.
The next village on the map was Station Yuma. Don’t ask me why they can’t write “ex-” before. Fortunately, I knew that there was nothing but rests of a village that was used before to charge mineral.
And one more time, the cabiñeros from Ollagüe gave me a wrong information. The road from Yuma towards Collahuasi is bad…and the next cabiñeros are about 40km more to nord: I arrived near the Collahuasi-Mine were the station should have been. And there was something like a police station, but empty. I had the choice: go into the direction of the mine, which was not on the way, or try for the north and hope for the police station where it should be possible to get some water: I had for maximum two days of water onboard.
I decided for the north…and encountered a bad road. The rain had washed it away the last weeks and I needed to push the bike for one hour approximatively. After a while, I started to feel better – the road as well. I by-passed the sulfate lake from the mine (thes rest of the transformation from copper oxide into sulfate) and cycled around the mountain “cerro del Inca” and still hoped for the cabiñeros. Instead of them I’ve got a nice downhill road made of earth with wind from behind. So I enjoyed it and arrived at one of the entrance of the mine. I went to the control and started the discussion…and while explaining where I came from, the first car that needed to pass the control spent me 3 bottles of water! 🙂 But that was not all…it was like Xmas again. In the end it was like every car passing by wanted to spend something for the poor guy. One car gave me two boxes with his dessert, another cookies and the best two sandwhiches with cheese, butter, meat and all vacuumed – no risk of troubles! During the discussion, I learnt that about 5000 people are working there in the copper mine. They work 12h a day for 7 days and have then 7 days free.
So after a while I continued with a full stomach and only needed to get a place for the tent.

Ready to sleep in that windy region!

Gud n8


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