Well, we set off on the morning of the 13th to drive back up into the mountains. We wanted to spend some time at altitude on the way to Chile to pick up Max on 16th. We got a few miles down the road, and Conway was clearly in trouble. The engine cut out, and when we pulled over, lots of smoke was coming out of the engine. It looked as though it had been so cold the previous night that our engine coolant (which had anti-freeze) had frozen. Something had cracked and the coolant had escaped, leading to the engine overheating. I was extremely grateful that this had happened when we were not up the mining track or we would have had a walk of many days to reach civilisation.
We drove slowly to a larger town, Chilecito (30km away) where there was a mechanic. He said he could fix the car, and we waited in the town on the 14th and 15th. On 16th September, we were ready to head out and drive to Chile to pick up Max in Copiapo. Unfortunately we were just a few miles from the town when Conway broke down again. We hobbled back to Chilecito and were told we needed a replacement part, which they could only get delivered the following day. As I write this, we are waiting for the part to arrive tomorrow, before hopefully heading out again.
One more spanner in the plan to get to Chile and pick up Max – his luggage has been lost and he’s been delayed a day…and the San Francisco Pass was closed due to bad weather again this lunchtime (16th). Tomorrow we will get the spare part (fingers crossed), then find out whether the pass is open and we can get to Chile. If it’s closed, we might have to make a large detour to cross the border. We’re hoping to reunite with Max tomorrow though, wish us luck!
UPDATE: 8pm Argentinian time – just had an earthquake here! Nothing too serious, no building damage or anything. I am keeping an eye open, ready to run outside and get in the car (parked in the courtyard away from buildings) if a more serious tremor occurs.