Patagonia and Southern Chile: the crossing of the border


We planned to spend the next leg of our trip zig zaging up from the most southerly point in Argentina through Patagonia, crossing into Chile along the way until we reach the warmer temperatures of Santiago and beyond.

Our first stop was Torres del Paine which is accessed through Porto Natales in Chile. The coach journey from Ushuaia took over 18 hours; whilst we weren’t expecting it to take so long we did start the trip prepared with a whole selection of ingredients in the new set of tupperware we had bought. Yes we have taken the bold step of spending a proportion of the daily budget on tupperware! It can’t get more exciting than this.

The only problem to this new found organisation (clearly the German influence in this powerful traveling dynamic duo that we have become) was me the ” Danny Devito” of the relationship…those of you who have seen the 80s classic Twins will know exactly what I mean!

In an attempt to be more efficient, I decided to take the lead in filling out the various forms that get handed to you when boarding the coach. What appeared to be standard type of questions that usually require you to tick the ‘no’ box seemed pretty straight forward to me, so I filled it out quickly for the both of us and thought nothing of it. It was only when getting to the Argentine border where we were waiting to get back on the coach did it dawn on me that I might have made a huge mistake. Whilst waiting, the English guy in front of us offered us a ham sandwich each saying that he had to eat them because the Chilean border is quite tough on what you can and can’t bring into the country…meat being a particular no no.

I had a classic blonde moment thinking that’s fine because we have pate….( I know completely retarded). Anyway to cut a long story short we had a complete panic within the 10 minuets it took us to cross no mans land to the Chilean border trying to stuff as much of the food down us as possible. Upon arrival at the border there were signs everywhere explaining what wasn’t allowed in which lead me to painfully empty out the remaining contents of the tupperware into the bin, knowing full well that this particular faux pas was going to haunt me for some time.

Suspiciously about 50 meters from the border is the first, and what we later realised the ONLY stop for the next 12 hours; conveniently at an overpriced cafe. As a penance for my stupidity I decided that I did not quite deserve any food or drink , although even if I had wanted to, we didn’t actually have any Chilean Pesos anyway.

To add salt to the wound, we sat next to two sneaky Israeli girls who were giggling to themselves for successfully smuggling their lunch boxes through customs as they tucked into their lunch…obviously what appeared to be a luggage scanner was either switched off or manned by a complete moron. My only one saving grace was that Andre had managed to scoff down 4 of the 5 pate baguettes in under 5 minuets which meant that for the time being he was complete stuffed!

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Five hours into the 12 hour slog we had come to terms with the fact that we wouldn’t be stopping anywhere to buy any food or water and that even if we did,we didn’t have the correct currency to pay for anything anyway. As you can imagine this didn’t make for conducive relations with the already uncomfortable 6’5 giant to my right.

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However, as if an act from god, we were both blessed with a truly magical experience when crossing the Strait of Magellan that helped thaw the icy relations; a group of what appeared to be over 30 dolphins playing in the waves of the ferry.

We eventually reached our final destination where we parted with what now had become a true enemy; the English guy in front ( for making us panic for no reason, leading me to go against the Israeli in me). By this time it was almost midnight and we still had to find our hostel in the freezing cold. Its for this reason we allowed ourselves to be effectively picked up by a granny and her husband in a car offering a cheaper hostel for the night.

Whilst a charming couple that were once a good looking pair this was no hostel….it was their house which I can only describe as a poorly constructed plywood assortment of boxes with suspicious gas heaters. Bizarrely they did have a huge TV with CNN which helped ease the fear of dying form carbon monoxide poisoning during our sleep.

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