We left the hostel in Chilecito at 5am and drove straight to the roadworks. We got there well before 7am (when they conveniently close the road for 12 hours) and went over the pass. Then it was off-road and we drove up to 4500 metres, passing some awesome ruins built in the 19th Century.
Unfortunately as the terrain was so rough, Conway got a puncture, right in the middle of the open desert with no protection from the wind. It was totally freezing, but the boys changed the tyre in no time!
We then had a choice – go on with no spare tyre, tens of kilometres into the desert with no roads, or go back to the last town (a few hours back down) to try and get the puncture repaired so at least we would have one spare tyre. We went down, but, of course, it was the middle of the siesta. We asked around and some lovely local guys phoned up the mechanic (who was at home, asleep) and he came and fixed our tyre! Then we were off again, but we had lost quite a bit of time so we made it to the ruins and slept there. We made a fire in the hut, and put our tents up in there, so the mice wouldn’t nibble us in the night!