Friday December 2, Day-20
Arica to Arequipa, 439 kms.
Today we are crossing the last border of this rally and we are moving 2 time zones even though Peru is only 20 kms away. So the plan is to leave at any time after 7 am (Chile time i.e. 5am Peru time) for the border. Of course when you say that to a bunch of maniacs like this, everyone is leaving at 6:30 . So we are off too at 6.30 while still dark. We decide to fill up at a nice Shell gas station to get rid of a bunch of chilean peso notes. When all filled up, one of our competitors drives by and something flips of their roof on to the tarmac. The gas station attendant runs over to get it and it turns out it is a plastic folder with all their important paperwork in it, passports, auto title, customs carnet etc. Someone in the dazed, dark state of early departure must have put the absolute essentials on the roof of their car and life zapped back. We immediately depart to try and catch them, or catch them on their panicked return looking for the essentials. Somehow we miss them they are no longer at the border, so hand the stuff in to the hands of the rally staff, since they have all phone numbers. Those two guys from Australia are still hugging and kissing us each time they see us. And we get pretty good points from the rest of the participants, being labeled as smart and on que for everything, not just being faster than most.
The line at the border makes Newark airport look like a breeze even on a buzy day. We stand in a very slow moving line at the Chilean side until 8 am. When full staffing comes on. Of course that is still 6 am 200 meters away at the Peruvian side. There we are marshalled into a special area where we park our cars in two lines and wait and wait and wait. It took about 2.5 hours waiting to get through this, all stayed pretty calm including myself :) For some reason we are one of the first to leave and arrive at the first car racing circuit for the day. It is basically right next door to the other one we raced on yesterday in Arica next to the border. This time it is in Peru right next to the Chilean border. It is a beautiful and fast facility in the middle of the desert, with reasonable tarmac. We get told we need to wait until the bulk of the participants are through the border so a general delay of 1 hour in all rally times is declared. I figured out a way to sleep in the tiny Porsche, so a nice nap is acheaved. Below parked in a good shade covered pit stop. I do maintenance on the driver.
A very fast and challenging track in the middle of the driest spot on earth, perfect for making noise and the thrill of four wheel slips. We do fine finishing again comfortably in the top ten and holding our standings.
A long drive of hundreds of kilometers follows along the Peruvian coastline north. Anyone looking for a beach, you can find it here and a guarantee of blazing sun shine. For hours we drive along scenes like these and most of the time without cardboard beach huts.
Later we turn inland with the scenery not changing much, except no more blue ocean to cool us. Very rapidly we gain altitude towards the city of Arequipa located at around 9,000 feet. It is not a pretty place and the taxis and bus drivers think they can teach those foreigners in the pretty little Porsche how to drive in a city. Little do they know they are dealing with New Yorkers. It is long and arduous to find a small go-kart track hired by the rally to make all these old cars grind through the tight go-kart turns. Our car is quite adept for that and probablythe best equiped for this of any of them. So we do great on this challenge. Below, car 57 scrubbing off speed (and a little rubber) in the last straight part before putting the pedal to the metal in one of those tight turns.