We pile into the jeep, tall Sean riding shotgun again as it has the most leg room. As we leave the lodge we're pulled over. We have a flat tyre. "Right, everyone off the Jeep!" The driver changes the wheel and we're off. Before long the jeep begins to make funny noises and the suspension seems to bottom out a lot. We stop and look, the rear right suspension is not just broken but it's sheared right off the axle! "Right, everyone off the Jeep!" Not to worry, the driver ties it back on with a big elastic band! (A bit of bungy cord previously used to tie our luggage to the roof.)
The first sight of the day is The Stone Tree, a wee rock formation that looks nothing like a tree, not even if you squint! But there were other large rocky mounds that gave us lads a chance to try out our hand at rock climbing and show the girls what they're missing out on!
We stop at a couple of viewpoints, lagoons and volcanoes before stopping at a tiny village for lunch. I talk to the crazy woman much to the amusement of others. Her sentences change topic midway through and don't make sense. Either she should be on medication or she's stopped taking it. She's crazy.
Another hours ride and we find the road blocked. It's blocked by a large pickup truck parked across the dirt track (between the hillside and a river) and some 20 men and women sat around it, staring into space. They were demanding money as a contribution for repairing the road. I look around, they have 3 shovels between them and are just sat there twiddling their thumbs. It is nothing short of daylight robbery. We're not playing. The female leader scoffs when we tell her we have no money. She isn't amused either when Sean asks if they take Visa Credit Card! The "workers" look menacing and they don't intend to budge so we turn around. Luckily there's another road through the valley so we quickly burn off before they have a chance to block that one too!
Further on, the middle of a desert plane, we slow for a "Stop" sign. Eh!? It looks very surreal, stood there in the middle of nothing. But it turns out to be a train track crossing.
We arrive at our Refugio just before dark, later than expected due to bonitos and jeep repairs. The place looks relatively new, tiled, clean and even boasts hot showers! Most of us take a shower and a quick walk around the village before dinner. It didn't take long, the village only consists of some 3 streets! The jeep had a small chat before lights out at 23:00. I pass out cold as usual and despite my bed being located next to the bathroom I don't hear any of the 18 night trips and slamming doors.
Posted by Steve Eynon