Since we last spoke, Daniel and I have been through Chile, into Argentina, and back to Chile again. Ideally, we’ll jump back into Argentina, back to Chile, back to Argentina, back to Chile… back… uhh… okay, losing track. Basically, we have to cross several more times to get to the isolated tip of Tierra del Fuego and back.
Ideally. Meaning, as long as we don’t get banned from Chile.
To make a long story short, we didn’t get exit stamps from Chile when we crossed into Argentina for the first time. We arrived at the remote border and only Argentinian officials were there. They told us the customs office for Chile was in San Pedro de Atacama, the town we just left… 200 miles back through the winding Andean roads. But no worries! they said. You can go to the Chilean consulate in Argentina and straighten it out.
So we did, albeit a little apprehensively. We thought we’d be banned from Chile for sure, which would make it impossible to get to Tierra del Fuego because it’s cut off from the rest of Argentina by a spit of land belonging to Chile.
We dressed in our best (which meant whatever we had left that wasn’t smelly or covered in dirt) and went to the consulate.
They couldn’t help us. The man we talked to said it would take 4 to 5 months to straighten it out. We’d be better off going to the border directly and explaining the honest mistake. He also made us promise we’d try to go back to Chile, because otherwise he was obligated to take our remaining customs paperwork. We promised. Again, apprehensively.
Today, we arrived at the border near Santiago, as planned. I put actual shoes on over my mosquito bites (which are very itchy, so it’s a huge sacrifice).
And they just let us through while listening to 80′s American music and eyeing their PSP’s. Daniel said we didn’t get exit stamps, but they just stamped us in like they didn’t hear us. In retrospect, they probably didn’t.
Everything was going swimmingly until it was time to leave the border zone. The last official at the gate tried to take our only copy of the car import permit. The one that police ask to see at checkpoints along the highway. We only had the one left, since the happy-go-lucky customs guys assumed it was a copy of a new import form for this crossing.
We explained the situation again and they seemed to get it this time, but they took the permit anyway.
But the police! we cried. No no, they said. You can just get a new permit the next time you come back to Chile. They were glad they figured out how to straighten out their records.
Except now we’re in Chile with no record of our car being allowed into the country. Who knows how many police checkpoints are between Santiago and Tierra del Fuego?
So if we suddenly find ourselves deported or our car is taken, please be prepared to vouch for us! We can’t let them take Peanut!
Posted from Colina, Santiago Metropolitan Region, Chile.