Wednesday, 30 October 2013 – Uspallata to Pichidangui (Chile)
Today our paperwork for taking the car into Argentina ran out, so we’d better get back. We had finished in Argentina for this trip anyway and have learned that for Andean Alpines we need to come in December / January.
Border crossings where you’re not familiar with the language are always stressful. And we had seen the Christo Redentor Pass, possibly at its most stressful on 31 December 2008 when we had joined what seemed to be the whole population of western Argentina in wanting to cross the border into Chile to celebrate New Year’s Eve on the seashores at Pichidangui. We got stuck in a 12 km queue that did not move for hours. In the end, we just got into the fast lane, overtook all the waiting cars, whose drivers hurled abuse and stones at us to arrive at the front of the queue where we received a severe telling off that went mostly over our heads. We had to turn around and get back to the end of the queue. Yes Sir! Can we just turn round in the space some 100 m ahead of us? Sure! There, another official directed us straight into the ‘crossing borders circus’ where hundreds of people were pushing to take their turns at the five different windows at which we had to present our papers.
So today we arrived back to cross back to Chile at the tunnel through Aconcagua, the highest mountain in the world outside of the Himalayas. We reached 3,400 m and only left the car to participate in the circus called immigration & customs. Slight hiccup as the dear lady at the ‘import the car from Argentina back into Chile’ window could not find Paso Icalma, where we had entered Argentina, on her list of border passes. ‘Update your list’ came to mind as a reply, as she did not speak or understand English. Her colleague had a much better idea: just accept the formal customs stamp on the paper work at Paso Icalma, I’m sure that if they can do this, they must be on the list. Well done!
The drive up & down the hill and the passage through the tunnel is always impressive, scenery wise. Angie was using my camera to take pictures. There were car wrecks that I’d be worried to even take to the shop on the corner who were attempting the climb & descend. Some were left steaming at the side of the road.
Back in Chile, it took ages to drive out of the clouds. In fact, by the time that we booked into Hotel Rosa Natica in Pichidangui, we were still under a thick layer of low cloud and in a light drizzle. So much for Chile in spring time. We hope for a sunny day tomorrow.