As I was sipping some black coffee for which I desperately wanted sugar, Alex stumbled out of his tent, also expelled by the heat. As he ate bread and drank coffee he spoke to his mother on the phone, who was urging him to come to her house in Arica, where less destruction had occurred. But radio reports the day before had declared the road between Arica and Alto Hospicio closed. Alex called his uncle to find out more. His uncle informed him that the roads had been reopened for non-commercial traffic. Alex was convinced.
However, there was still the question of getting enough gas to make the four hour drive. The Copec station along route 16 in Alto Hospicio was only dispensing gas by 1 liter increments to people on foot. So we drove further up the road to the edge of the city where another Copec station was closed to all but emergency vehicles. Alex decided he would try the station on the other side of town, but it was closed completely.
Another call to Alex's uncle, and his report was that the gas station in Pozo Almonte, 40 miles to the East, was open as normal. How the uncle was an expert on transportation, I didn't know, but when Alex decided he was at least going to drive to Pozo to see the situation, and invited me along, I realized there wasn't much reason to stay in a precarious apartment in a city with no electricity or water. So I packed a bag quickly, getting out of the apartment before another aftershock and we set off.
Indeed, gas was being sold normally in Pozo Almonte, and we filled up the tank, then took a 6 hour drive to Arica. It is normally much quicker, but there was indeed quite a bit of fallen rock along the road. For much of the drive, the road is bordered on the East with high hills. During the earthquake, much of the rock that makes up these hills had come loose and fallen, in both big bolder sized pieces and smaller, but equally as unnavigatable basketball sized pieces.