The plan from here had been to head OFF OFF road and drive on the Salar de Antofalla (the longest salar in the world), camp out, and then make it back to the dirt road 300 km north on the RP 51.
The combination of the altitude, the freezing temperature, the possibility of no gas available in the next tine town, and Sara being sicker today we opted to be safe and back track 332 km to civilization and normal altitude in Santa Maria. It’s a good thing, since arriving there Sara went directly to bed and didn’t get up until the next morning.
She was a bit better today so we decided to get going north. On the way out of town there is a huge statue of Pachamama. Pachamama is the goddess revered by the indigenous people of the Andes. In Inca mythology she is a fertility goddess. After the conquest by the Spanish the figure of the Virgin Mary became united with the Pachamama for many indigenous who were forced to convert to Catholicism.
Just 21 km out of Santa Maria is the small village of Amaicha, which has an amazing Pachamama Museum. From here we rode north and thru Cayfate (which is a very cute town) “ on our way to Cachi up the ruta 40”.
Our plan had been today to head up to Cachi, but Sara was still not feeling up to 120 km of dirt, washboard, and steep mountain roads, so we drove 25 km thru the vineyards to San Carlos after a total of only 84 km and STOPPED and actually ate lunch! Heading 19 km back to Cayfate we found a nice room in a small hostal. They have a nice square here full of restaurants.