Archive for the “Border Crossing” Category
It’s a surreal moment in Customs in downtown Buenos Aires when all the papers are finally signed, and the Jeep is officially transferred out of my name. Less than 15 minutes later I book plane tickets, and have just over 24 hours remaining in Latin America.
Not for the first time in my life, I give away stuff and condense my worldly possessions until they fit inside my faithful backpack.
I jump in the driver’s seat for the final time and make the journey to the airport, trying to soak in every last minute of time I have with my much-loved Jeep. For a year and a half I’ve been saying “Ella está mi novia” (She is my girlfriend), and we all know breakups are difficult.
Just before midnight on April 12, 2011 the wheels come to a stop for the final time after 64,517km.
That’s a touch over 40,000 miles in 667 days, or 1 year nine months and 28 days.
For the next twenty-nine hours I wait, read, write, think and sleep while moving through different airports, never feeling present in any of them. I’m greeted by my always-grinning brother & his girlfriend, holding a huge banner they made for my welcome, complete with Jeep pic and map.
Welcome Home Dan
Together, we cross the final border of the adventure.
The familiar words uttered by the friendly customs officer make me realize how much I’ve missed this place.
I think I’ll stay for a while.
“Welcome to Canada”.
I’m currently writing up posts about trip stats, total costs, gear reviews and more.
They’ll show up over the next couple of weeks.
If you have any questions you want me to cover, just ask.
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Posted by Dan in Argentina, BlogSherpa, Border Crossing, Chile, Road-tripping, tags: Bosque Petrificado, Camping Hain, Rio Grande, San Sabastián, Tierra Del Fuego, Tolhuin
The Chileans are pretty upset their government is raising the price of natural gas by a few cents a liter and have decided to complain about it by rioting in the streets. They’ve blockaded all the ferries to Tierra Del Fuego, closed roads, are burning tires in the street and are generally causing trouble and unrest. Nobody knows how long this might last and I have to wonder if I’ll be able to drive the last 500km after coming more than 50,000kms. Huh.
Hiking with my park ranger friends
For a diversion I checkout Bosque Petrificado, a national monument of petrified trees and quickly befriend the park rangers who invite me to stick around for a few days, talking, laughing, cooking great food and generally hanging out.
When word comes through the ferries to Tierra Del Fuego are operating as normal, I’m eager and ready to move on.
Over the course of a very long day I drive south from Rio Gallegos to the Chilean border where I line up for a couple of hours to check myself and the Jeep out of Argentina, then into Chile. A short drive further finds me at the ferry terminal where I chat to a couple of bikers before the 30min, $USD30 ferry ride across to the island of Tierra Del Fuego. The 135km of mediocre gravel road to the border of San Sabastián is a slush-fest thanks to the constant rain and driving wind. Again, some lining up and waiting sees me exit Chile, then 10km further I’m stamped back into Argentina. Each border is painless and free, requiring only my passport and the original registration for the Jeep.
Welcome to Tierra Del Fuego!!!
After a re-supply stop in the big city of Rio Grande I make my way down to Tolhuin, a beautiful little town renowned for it’s excellent bakery and beautiful, lake-side “Hain” campground.
Camping inside a tepee at Camping Hain, Tolhuin
Only 100km to Ushuaia, the end of the line.
So close now...
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We’re utterly exhausted when we roll into San Pedro De Atacama, Chile, and searching around town to find a campground nearly finishes us off. Rob has endured the most by far, and is so throughly done he drops the Harley twice in ten minutes, before sitting on the ground, trying not to pass out.
The prices here are staggering. Literally jaw dropping. USD$8.40 camping for one night, $15-$20 for dinner in a restaurant and gas is around $1.45/liter ($5.50/gal). It doesn’t take long before we realize we need to get out of here, though a few beers and a pizza come first.
I spend more one night in Chile than I spent in a week in Bolivia – ouch.
Rob decides to rest for another day, so in the early afternoon myself, Warren & Sara roll up to Customs and are stamped out of Chile after only 24 hours. We drive back up over the same pass as the day before and come to the international border some 270km later, high in the mountains.
Rob & Sara have fallen behind, so I move inside, fill out another tourist card good for 90 days in Argentina, then get another sheet of paper for the Jeep based on the registration.
Again, no money, no copies, no worries.
I wait and wait, and start to get worried as the light fades. Warren’s been having a lot of trouble with his Toyota and I really don’t know what to do. I’m already stamped into Argentina and I don’t think I have enough gas to go back to find them. I leave a note at immigration and reluctantly move on, into my 16th and possibly final country. While driving a few more hours I think long and hard about the fact I’m now in Argentina and have essentially no more border crossings for my journey. Sure, I’ll cross Chile/Argentina/Chile a few more times, but those seem almost superficial and irrelevant.
So close now.
Summer is coming...
At 8pm I watch the beautiful sunset wearing shorts, flip-flops and a T-shirt.
Roll on another summer of camping, hiking & gorgeous mountains!
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Distant mountains surround a tiny shack in the middle of nowhere, marking the international border between Bolivia and Chile. Apparently we’ve arrived at immigration. The officer tells us there is no Customs here, it’s about 60km back across the desert, and we need to go there to hand in our vehicle paperwork. Running low on money, food, water and most importantly gasoline we know this is never going to happen, and tell the guy we’re just going to leave our papers with him.
“No problem”, he says while throwing them on a stack of identical papers.
The amazingly remote border post
To get an exit stamp from Bolivia, we need to each pay 15 Bolivianos (about USD$2), he says. Warren, Sara and Rob have already paid up when I ask for my usual receipt, which is where the trouble starts. The more-or less official-looking receipts, complete with hologram, are stapled to the tourist cards he has just removed from our passports. Unfortunately, he can’t give us a copy because they have to be sent to La Paz.
I’m tired, hungry, covered in dust and not at in the mood for any South American bribery crap and proceed to argue loudly with him for the next ten minutes about how this is an official border crossing and there is no way I would be required to pay money without an official receipt. Furthermore, I add, I watched at the immigration office in Uyuni while ten tourists were stamped out, on their way to cross this exact border. Nobody paid a cent there.
“Yeah, that’s different”. Sure it is.
Chile, complete with road signs!
Rob points out he only paid 12 or 13 Bolivianos, everything he had, and the guard accepted it happily. In my mind, this is always a sure sign of something screwy – the guy is happy to take what he can get. In the end he reluctantly stamps my passport and gives it back, though my tourist card doesn’t get a hologram-equipped sticker.
While waiting for Rob to organize some gear I stew in the Jeep, wondering if that was a really stupid thing to do. He could easily not hand in my customs paperwork, or mess with my tourist card, or …
I think I’m getting a little too big for my boots and taking this arguing thing a little far.
Next time I’ll keep my mouth shut and pay the USD$2.
We move off into Chile and can’t help but take photos of the excellent paved road we’re following for another 45km into San Pedro de Atacama. It’s all downhill and I think the gas gauge on the Jeep actually goes up a little, alleviating all my prior stress. It’s a serious shock to see a road with a great surface, well painted lines, distance signs, corner signs and emergency stopping lanes for trucks. On top of all this the other drivers even use signals to overtake and do so sensibly and safely.
I seriously wonder if I am hallucinating from exhaustion.
Paved road goodness!
We pull over at the customs checkpoint just out of town, are stamped into the country after filling out yet another tourist card, and receive paperwork for our cars based on the registration.
No copies, no money, quick and easy.
Chile is pretty serious about keeping out fruits and vegetables, so we sign a very serious looking legal declaration before a cursory inspection where my honey and popcorn are both confiscated, currently my two favorite food items.
We roll forwards into Chile, a whole new world.
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