Thursday 12 January. The wifi is not working, so no news. After breakfast and several attempts I get the password of the reception-wifi and that’s working pretty good. Thanks guys for not sharing before. The Dakar started this morning so the driver is at the hotel at 8:30 and off we go. El Salado is the viewpoint in the dessert north of San Juan. Luckily the driver brought a net for shade and cold drinks. We arrive at ten o’clock and we have to wait a while. The temperature is raising above 40°C in a burning sun. Waiting and watching other people till two and sweating like hell. First the bikes come by. Most drive slowly through the shallow water of the riverbed. The crowd wants to see more splashing water and cheer on to the drivers. After a few hours the first car, a Peugeot drives through the water. Everyone is cheering and Peterhansel makes the show, realizing a nice big splash. Two other Peugeots follow and then it’s a mixture of cars and bikes. The Toyota from Dutch driver Van Loon is doing also well. The temperature is killing but there’s always some shade of a big umbrella. The local boys offer local drinks like wine with coke. Well that’s different. Football is again most important for them. Of course River Plate vs Boca.
First truck is the Kamaz from Nikolaev, followed by Sotnikov and Mardeev. De Rooy is also in front and the trucks try to dry the riverbed. A bit further on the track the competitors drive along, 2 meter from the spectators, almost full speed, before they have to break for the riverbed. The passing bikes are impressive, the cars coming toward you are amazing and you want to run when they come close that fast. With the trucks you will run for live, although you not on their track. Woow. Unbelievable sensation. Tears in the eyes, I feel so privileged to be here. It could also be the dust mixed with sun cream, but never the less it is a really cool experience.
End of the day we drive back to San Juan to take the nice luxury bus with airco to Mendoza.