Today we have what would appear to be a short day – only 373 kilometers to drive, mostly at or near sea level, only one test, seven and one half hours to complete – what could go wrong? Well, it depends on who you asked.
Our departure along the ocean was just delightful, but what would you expect here by the sea.
The desert, however, is never far away. The entire region right down to the water’s edge is bone dry. I know the Andes are on the western edge of the continent and I’m aware of what that does to the prevailing winds and resulting rainfall but this is far beyond my wildest imagination.
These appeared to be monuments of a sort sitting up on a small bluff – goodness knows, the land certainly needs some decoration.
And this is why the decoration is so desperately needed … We were joking that the hills were nothing more than lumps in the sand but it’s the truth.
As we were asending a grade that seemed to go on forever and was a struggle even for our Caddy, we passed the 1923 Austin driven by Ralf Weiss and Kurt Schneiders gasping for breath and a steady stream coolant coming from under the car. Unfortunately, a few minutes later they had to pull over – the good news was they let it cool down and the mechanics came along to provide more water. All’s well that ends well.
In some spots there were deep ravines cut into the sand – certainly they were not caused by a river any time in the recent past.
Only a few kilometers to go to get to today’s Test but wait, what is this – construction. Oh well, sit tight and wait, we have plenty of time to get there before our scheduled start.
Got to find something to do with one’s time while waiting – why not a picture of the car leading the rally? This is James Stephenson in the 1923 Vauxhall which he is sharing with his Dad Max – what a great pair of guys!
Finally, after about 20 minutes we were allowed to proceed only to be stopped again for more construction. Hmm, this is becoming a habit. When asked how long a wait, the man tending the stop sign said he did not know, they would tell him. Good thing we hurried earlier.
This is serious construction going on – this part of Chile was subjected to unusually heavy rains last October – the heaviest in 80 years.
On our way once again after another 20 minute wait and WHAT – another construction halt. We are now running very short on time and have no idea how long a wait this will be. We were not having fun!
Just happened to take a quick picture down into the ravine on our left – it looks like it might just barely support life down there …
Finally we passed the last construction site and were on our way, terribly late for our start time and with 3 kilometers still to go – before all the construction we had plenty of time to get there. Once again, Lloyd virtually defied gravity and managed to get us there only one minute late – unbelievable! We came rolling into the start control, passed our time card to the marshal, got a start time – all without stopping thanks to a very tuned-in marshal at the start. Thank you John Livingston – great job!
The Test itself was completed without incident so on we went – didn’t want to miss any of the excitement out there on the desert. Good thing we are not doing this at night, it would put you right to sleep.
We have seen these little “monuments” for a lack of a better term all along the roads since we began in Rio. For the first time we had a moment to stop and photograph one. This one was complete with a flag but most are not so ornate. They are mostly very small but this one was unusually large at about 2 ½ feet high.
It is obvious they are memorials to someone departed, however, it is unclear if their death was an accident on the road and they were marking the spot or if they were more general in nature and just a shrine. This one had a name and dates inscribed right at the intersection of the cross.
Back to the desert – both smooth and lumpy …
Coming into Iquigue we passed through neighborhoods where the buildings on the ground floor were all bared and gated. Actually, we have found this to be a standard everywhere we have been. You may draw your own conclusions about why that might be necessary.
Around a corner and saved by the ocean yet again. This appeared to be a dredging operation right off the beach.
Our hotel for the night – yes that does say Holiday Inn Express on the top – but it was right on the ocean. Iquigue is a major city with many high rise buildings but it only has two hotels – this and a Radisson (which had too few rooms). Our room was right in front, unfortunately, it was on the second floor right behind the portico – we can peek around the corner and see about five feet of ocean. Oh well, we are not here on vacation and it is for one night.
Not wishing to disappoint our readers, I did walk across the street to get some pictures of the beach and surf. Amazing how the sand hills (aka mountains) rise right out of the sea.
Looking down the beach it is clear many have a much better view of the water than we do. Strange, almost no one was on the beach.
They do have wonderful surf here and I think I remember seeing some surfers in the water as we were making our way through town. I’m sure this lack of clarity is a sign my memory is failing but my excuse is a good one – I was busy navigating.
Several readers have requested an update on the status of some of the cars. Six cars have officially withdrawn but their occupants are still with us in rentals or riding with the organization. The following is a list of the cars officially withdrawn as of today:
Car # 1 1907 Itala David and Karen Ayer
Car #7 1930 Ford Model A Adrian and Barbara Shooter
Car #15 1958 Austin Healey Roger and Gillian Goodwin
Car #16 1959 Sunbeam Alpine Lloyd and Treacy Reddington
Car #23 1968 Volvo 142 S Jose and Maria Romao de Sousa
Car #29 1971 Mercedes 280 SE Jorg Lemberg, Antonio Cardoso,
Peter Schmidt, Marc Laubrich
Sorry for the difficulties these folks have experienced but glad they are still with us.
Overall a very pleasant day for most of us which began and ended at the sea – how much better does it get?