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Published: December 20th 2012
Having reached our final destination feels a bit strange and at the same time satisfying. This morning I woke up to the sound of waves crashing on the shore and sitting up in bed could see the sea and the beach. No thinking about hours and hours in the car, just a day stretching out in front with the beach and the sun.
Actually it’s been a bit cloudy in the mornings with the sun coming out about 1pm. But we’ve not been doing much until then anyway. In fact we’ve not being doing much at all; a bit of sitting on the beach, a bit of reading, a bit of Uno and a bit of surfing and lots of Big Bang Theory re runs in the evenings. Very pleasant.
I never got round to taking Nady clothes shopping for her birthday in October, so had it in mind to do so here in Arica. Today we went clothes shopping. As we walked to the bus Nady said that she liked it here in Arica, by the sea. "Can't we live here?". When I asked her about a new school and new friends, etc, she said she'd be Ok
to get some new friends and then said "Can't we live in a third place like we already live in Bolivia and England?" Interesting.
There are loads of little boutiques, so we had a look in a few and bought some jeans, a top and a waistcoat. Then it was lunch time and Mcdonalds was near. Nady was puzzled when I groaned at her suggestion to go there. Some things are too complicated to explain, so we had the Classic Chicken burger. Feeling bloated and hungry again almost immediately we took the bus back to our apartment.
This evening we popped out to DiMango, our favourite beachside haunt for Pisco Sour and pasta. Ben downloaded a game onto my phone called “Air Control”. I turned my nose up when I was it was planes, but only went to bed when Andrea came looking for me all bleary eyed at goodness knows what time. Of course all night I was dreaming of organising little blue and red planes and helicopters into their landing slots. Then a big jellyfish came and covered the screen and I don’t remember any more. Some thoughts on our driving.
We’ve tried to
stick to driving 2 hours each and then changing over. That’s a good length to drive on demanding roads as you’re not completely worn out at the end of 2 hours but have a rest and come back fresh again. The problem comes when you’ve had lots of stop start, getting lost kind of driving and just want to get some miles under your belt. I did a 3 or 4 hour stint one day like that and when we stopped for a coffee, realised that I was more tired than I’d thought. Then coming back to drive after a 2 hour rest I wasn’t fully recovered.
When you’re learning to drive you’re taught to take care when animals are on the roadside “as their behaviour may be unpredictable”. Our experience is that this isn’t true. Their behaviour is entirely predictable; they wait until you’re really close and then start sauntering across in front of you. Then they wait until you’ve picked which side of them you’re going to pass and only then will they make a run for that side. Some goats or Llamas nearly met the big Llama in the sky like that.
Birds are just
The vultures circle round our apartment block!
stupid! They think they can be really clever and fly up just as you’re approaching and glance off the windscreen and go over the top. In some parts of Argentina they just aren’t getting their timing right!
Bugs are a nightmare around dusk. In the Pampas of Argentina we were going through clouds of bugs that hit the windscreen like rain. Soon you’re needing the wipers on to clear them and soon the wipers and washers won’t clear them anymore. Eventually we were reduced to leaning out and cleaning a small patch with a rag so I could see out.
Driving through the storm on the way down through the Pampas was pretty scarey that night. I’d seen we were driving towards the lightening and the man in the petrol station (who nearly filled us up with diesel due to a local translation issue) had said there were wind and rain warnings on the road we were going. The rain started coming and all of a sudden I was aware that the darkness was getting much blacker. As the rain started hammering down Ben said “this could get ugly”. It still makes me smile when I think of
him saying that. It didn’t get as ugly as I thought it was going to get and we were through the storm in 10 or 15 minutes. The next day we bought some new wipers though as the old ones were rubbish!
It’s amazing how much more tiring it is to drive on single carriageway roads than dual carriageway (motorway style) roads even with hardly any traffic on. One road we were on across the Pampas in Argentina looked on the map as though someone had drawn it with a ruler. It was like that for about 200 miles. Andrea was coming to the end of her 2 hour stint and I’d noticed she had been doing 100mph plus for long stretches. There was hardly any other traffic. We stopped for fuel at one of the only petrol stations and switched over. I wondered if I could actually do 100 miles in one hour. So got up to speed and started the watch. I was doing really well, but had to slow down as we came up behind a slow lorry and at the same time there was a car coming the other way. I did the next 10
or 15 minutes on the far side of 100mph to try and get the average back and thought I was going to make it. All of a sudden it got really really windy. We were being pushed sideways so much that I had about a quarter of a turn of lock on to go straight. That confused the traction control system so much that it switched itself off and put the warning lights on. I had to slow down considerably at that point and also stopped to refill with petrol at another middle of nowhere petrol station. In the end we’d averaged 93mph for 52 minutes. Andrea may have averaged faster than that on the previous hour but I wasn’t timing. By the end of that day we’d clawed back all our lost miles and were exhausted from concentrating so hard and looking so far ahead.
We're all missing home a bit now. We've never been away from what we call home for this long before.
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