Researching our trip we came across the Ramblewriters, that caught the 2010 Dakar; realizing in Mendoza that we may cross paths with the 2016 rally in Jujuy it was decided we’d make the effort to catch a stage. After a disappointing trip to Colome Winery we spent New Years Eve in Cachi. A quaint, local town with a beautiful cemetery and plaza where we decided to spring for a hotel. Greeted by a nice woman that showed the room it only took walking out to realize that we wanted a place for the night, out of the truck. More on our New Year’s Eve in a separate post…it’s worth one of its own as it was our first really scary experience and we blame it all on the dog!!!
That said, we readjusted plans [yet again] to catch the Jujuy stage of Dakar. So now we wait, almost like an old school rave, jonesing for music, we wait until the next section is announced. Spending an awesome day between Tilcara and Purmamara soaking in the colors, ancient ruins and chill Chicos ready to speak Spanglish then we realized the route was right over the Paso de Jama. So, in a quick minute we’re off and hoping to find a bit of an exhilaration rush…and maybe a bit of Fernet!
As we climbed over the pass, after the sun had set, realizing the views we were missing to make the race we finally arrived to a frenzy of trucks and bikes scrambling for parking and claiming their spot for the following days race. We were told that we could camp anywhere along the stage course as long as we were off the road and paid attention to security, so we headed up the road to find our own plot to join the crowd. About a mile in we started looking for a spot amongst hundreds of other vehicles. As we pulled off the road an Argentine by the name of Emiliano pointed us to a flat open area near them and invited us to join them. After settling in we joined Emiliano by the fire to keep warm as the night proceeded to get colder. A few shared Fernet and Cokes later the temperature had dropped and it began to rain so we called it a night and went to sleep with the excitement of the race upon us. Nothing would have prepared us for the chaos of the Dakar and the events of the next day.