After quickly boring with the city life of Mendoza, we raced north across Prov San Juan and into Prov Rioja to take the lead spot in the Dakar Rally at Chilecito. With my new 300tdi engine, R380 gearbox, and new brake system, I was unstoppable. I never saw another vehicle in front or behind me as we raced the sun to see who would be first to the continental divide of Paso de San Francisco at 4748 meters altitude. The road conditions were rough and dusty with the sun looking straight at us, but we were flying. Guess who lost it for us? Not me, Curt did. Yep, as we climbed the altitude, his driving became worse and worse. All over the road, stopping and starting, falling asleep (!!); the altitude did not bother me though as I powered on. As darkness fell, I could see that Curt was going to wreck us both, so I let him pull off the road for a sleep at 4500 meters. All night long he was tossing and turning, chewing aspirin, drinking water, but never sleeping. When the sun rose, we had to get racing again, but he was still so disoriented. We crawled like a drunken snake to the border crossing at the continental divide. Curt went into the small shack to do the papers, and when he came out, he was a changed man. Apparently they felt sorry for him and gave him some oxygen. Now the race was ours to be had again!
As we raced along the moonscape road after crossing the divide, the altitude began to decline bit by bit. With gravity on our side, Curt drunk on oxygen, and a race to win, we were traveling at speeds far beyond LandRover safe. Then it all came to a halt with the notorious SAG; Chile Department of Agriculture inspections at Chilean customs crossing. It's obvious that SAG is in on the take with trying to influence the race by holding up we best with nonsense confiscation of spices, herbs, and salami. After the SAG mugging, we tried to make up for the lost time and race toward the Pacific Ocean and the town of Chañaral. We made it, and just like I expected, the race was over before we got there. Not even one supporter to greet us. $%*### SAG !