I’m off!

With the car sorted, I’m off to play in the hills for a few weeks until Sarah and the children arrive. First stop, Argentina. I wanted to check that entry into Argentina would be ok with my temporary Chilean ID and my notarized temporary registered owner certificates. That way if there was an issue, it’s only a short hop back to Santiago.

With the excitement of picking up my “new” car I left the hot hazy smog on Santiago and headed north to Los Andes. Soon after, the climb began. Higher and higher past ski resorts and the Andes proper. Across the top and into Argentina! The border crossing awaited down the other side. The car queue was for over three hours. There is a cafe and people pulled out their deck chairs….

Once inside, all seemed smooth. I was concerned about the temporary Chilean ID (RUT) and the temporary car ownership certificates, but nary an eyebrow was raised. The Argentinan customs officer was very friendly. I was waved through, and after a cursory quarantine check was on my way down the long spectacular winding hills into Argentina.

Happiness was, however, short lived.

15kms down the mountain, is another checkpoint. He looked at my papers, and said I was missing two stamps – for the export / import of the car! Up the windy (and windy!) hill I went again. After grabbing the attention of two Argentinian police, I explained myself in my best Spanish, and they ushered me and the car in the back way to the customs area. Much frowning, rereading of insurance policies, RUT and other paperwork, with a nature in stark contrast to that received earlier, I received the two stamps and again I was off, with a more muted and frustrated feeling, having lost more time.

Darkness fell not long after, and I pushed on into Mendoza, before to head the 1200kms north to Salta for the Dakar rally. I found a lit picnic area next to a gas station just out of Mendoza near the airport. I was half alert but all was quiet during the remaining 6 hours of night. I needn’t have worried; dawn revealed a police car parked about 50m away behind some shrubs, its occupant sound asleep….

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