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Steve & Loz’s Travel Diary

Thursday, 02 Aug 2007

Location: Santiago & a heap of buses, Chile

MapWe bounced out of Bolivia and into Chile and BAM! Never have I crossed an imaginery line in the sand and experienced such a dramatic change. Asphalt roads (heaven), comfy buses, customs - and this was all in the first couple of hours. What was perhaps most impressive were Chile's stringent customs checks. Hardly surprising given we were a bus load of backpackers leaving the cocaine capital of the world.

Turns out the smooth sales routine we were fed on the Bolivian side of the border left us high-and-dry in San Pedro de Atacama without a way to get to Argentina. After frantically running a full five laps of the town trying to charter anything with 4 wheels and a driver, we decided to cut our loses (i.e. Northern Argentina) and head southbound and cross into Argentina from Santiago. A 100% fool-proof plan...

... or so we thought! Chile is a very narrow and deceptively long country. It took us a full 24 hours on a very comfortable overnight bus to make it to el capital. With no immediate onward transport into Argentina, we found a very chill Kiwi-run hostel (x-box, pool table, foosball, table tennis) and settled in. Unbeknownst to us, the road across the Andes from Santiago to Mendoza, Argentina is often closed due to bad weather. As our luck would have it, it was well and truly one of those weeks. On the third day of closed road, we decided to cut our loses and head a further 20 hours south to the more reliable crossing near Bariloche. Failing that, our contingency plan was to hire a team of dogs, a sled and going it alone across the Patagonian glaciers. You would think it would be far easier to cross into a country that shares so much border. Pesky Andes.