The Chile day trip!
Well, we had two attempts at getting through the border! We drove 2 hours via Villa Angostura, which incidentally is very smart and has a real ‘town feel’ about it. Different to many other places I have seen in Argentina so far.
As we went through the various customs police and collected a tome of paperwork, which seemed to have to be ceremoniously stamped by lots of officials, only to find once we had managed to get out of the border police department, which meant we had officially left Argentina, to then be turned back by the customs because our hire car paperwork was not up to date!. Now, at this point we were neither in Argentina nor Chile. A bit confusing for the border police? Luckily a very helpful immigration officer found us and helped us sort it out. We almost had to spend the night at the border office! It seems that it all revolves around ensuring people are employed, vastly inefficient way of controlling a border I think.
So, having returned, rather hacked off that we were not spending two days in Chile, our new hire car, equipped with the required paperwork, was waiting for us back in Bariloche ready to leave the following day. This meant that our stay in Chile was for only a few hours as I needed to get back to the Mountain to resume the BASI ski course the following day….Frustrating!
The second attempt was successful however, and having 2 other BASI trainers Andrew and Steve, come along made it even more interesting…….Their hire car was dropped off at their hotel at 8.30am. All good they thought? Only to be told by the car hire company owner (who dropped the car off) that they needed a new light bulb and it would all be fine, they just had to take him back into Bariloche to get one fitted! Strange…..think I had the same problem the previous week, that was for wheel balancing! The real hilarious bit is when the car hire chap asked if he could be dropped off at his house on the way! Seems like our early start turned into a mid morning dash to Chile!
We made it in the end to have a few hours sampling the terrain of a different country. As you come out of Argentina you need to drive for about a further 20 KMs before you reach the Chilean border control on the other side. This ‘no man’s land’ is a big area and leaves you wondering what would happen to you if it all went wrong up there…The whole journey from Bariloche to the Chilean border takes about 3.5 hours allowing for border control etc.
As you go over the pass you soon realise that the terrain is very different to the Argentinean side of the Andes. We now seem to be in a rain forest, this makes sense as the mountains face the Pacific. The drive through the countryside at the base of the mountain reminds me of driving over ‘my native county of Devon’s’ Dartmoor! Very strange, the infrastructure is very different to Argentina; the roads for example are a big improvement.
Stopping for lunch in a lakeside restaurant near a very basic small town (which was definitely NOT like a town from Devon!) After our rather late lunch, our travelling companions Steve Ricketts and Andrew Lockerbie, headed off to where we (me and Rob) were supposed to be going the day before. Puerto Montt, a City on the Pacific coast. The pictures I have seen of it look as if it should be on the coast of Devon! As we waved goodbye my only hope was that their car would make it…it had been misfiring all the way from Bariloche. Good luck boys! They are supposed to return this evening, if they do not…well, they have probably forgotten to stamp the right bits of paper.
Sadly, as it was such a misty wet day, our views of the Volcanoes as we drove down the valley were hidden in the clouds…..never mind, better luck next time I hear myself say.