Another day travelling along the old Route 40 and today it is all unpaved. The road runs along the eastern flank of the ranges and recent heavy rain has washed away parts of the road in many places. There is so little vegetation to hold the fine soil together so heavy rain just picks it up and carves a path down into the valley. Must be very spectacular but we wouldn’t want to be stuck there.
As we were leaving Cafayate this morning I could hear a scraping noise from the rear brakes which didn’t sound too serious. At the morning tea stop I pulled the brake drum off to find one of the brake shoe retaining springs had broken – as usual Pete came to the rescue with just the right part so we were back on the road again pretty quickly. While we were working on the car a group of German tourists came by and told us about this little chapel where they had just stayed. We called in and found the chapel and museum but they were closed and we couldn’t convince the lady to open it. It seems they were only opened for guests and not for visitors. Another missed tourist opportunity but at least their pet llama kept us amused. – especially Ken who seems to have a special affinity for llamas.
After lunch in Molinos, another sleepy little town with nothing much happening we decided to split into two groups – RIP and Navy Car took the long way around through the Valley of Coloured Rocks while the others headed directly to Cachi. The first section of the track took us through the Camino de los Artisans or Artisan Route where we found a few settlements offering woven llama and sheep wool products. Laurel and Lorraine bought a few pieces from an elderly lady who very proudly showed us a picture of the Pope wearing one of her shawls. While this secret women’s business was taking place, Dave and I chatted to the boys who quickly gathered around wanting to know all about the cars. We’re getting pretty good at talking about the MG marque, how old the cars are, how big is the engine and of course, where have we come from. As usual there was a 5 or 6 year old with a smart phone taking pictures from every angle. These must be the most photographed cars in history!
After this the road continued to deteriorate and we seriously considered turning back but then decided it would be just as long to turn back as continue and press our luck. And lucky we were, suddenly we were in the Valley of Coloured Rocks and it was everything you could wish for. Amazing colours and spectacles at every turn. The bonus was that when we finally hit the bitumen at Route 33 we found an excellent road winding down through a series of tightening bends into a long, long straight, the Recta de Tin Tin. Don’t know what the Tin Tin bit means but a Recta is a straight line. And at the other end of the valley there were another series of bends taking us down from over 3500m to less than 2000m at Cachi. Brilliant!