Jama Pass

An ode to one of the most infamous mountain passes in the Andes. 

We were living one of the most strefull moments of our lives in one of the most incredible places on Earth, The Jama Pass, with an altitude of 4200 m above sea level and our love relationship on the verge of despair. 

We came down from the Peruvian altiplano city of Puno to Chile and into Arica coast town where we spent the night. We aimed to cross into Argentina using the Jama Pass the most northern mountain pass and the less likely to be closed by snowfalls at this time of the year. Still the pass is 4200 meter in altitude and we were carrying an inconsistent cylinder head.

Next morning, just 40 kms out of Arica our engine gave up. Otto spent nearly 5 hours in an emergency procedure to retighten the head under hot conditions. We knew there were not parts available in town. After testing, we drove another 100kms before dusk and slept in the middle of the bast land of the Atacama desert. 

Anxiety grew as we counted the kilometres to our destination. Towns were 300 kms apart from each other. Atacama seemed the longest and loneliest place on Earth.

Next day we arrived at the mystic town of San Pedro de Atacama, gate to the Jama Pass. We hid in a corner of town. In the naked afternoon we looked at the pass from far. The difficulty of the challenge got blurred by its beauty . There were 80 kms of steep and constant ascent, the elevation change was brutal and we were injured. As the landscape dressed in pink and gold we calculated the hypothetic number of safety stops to avoid overheat. The next 150 kms of our lives where a wild, remote and completely unknown land.

The night was freezing and we hardly slept. Next morning at 8 o’clock sharp we were at the gate. It was closed. 

Freezing conditions made the driving unsafe.

The 75hp motor pushed the 2,500 kgr of metal and belongings up the hill the same way we pushed our love inside these 8 square feet. It has been a long way and under the curious stares of vicuñas and wild donkeys, under the omnipresent Licancabur volcano, we refused to give up. We drove at 10km/hr for fifty kilometres. At this steady pace the altiplano world opened in front of us. Nothing we could said. A painted emptiness of arid tones and the free open road told us that those are the moments to remember for long, maybe forever too. 

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