Mar. 12 – Mendosa, AR to Santiago, CI

2009 March 28
tags: ,
by joe

We have the usual breakfast at the hotel restaurant;  no earthquake today!  We collect our clean clothes (yea!), and after I re-assemble my bike, we load up and find our way out of Mendoza.  Back to desert for a while, then climb into mountains.  We stop at a beautiful lake in the mountains that looks so out of place in the desert surrounding it.  After a long, windy, steady climb into higher altitude, we approach the border, with long tunnels and steep sections along the abandoned railroad.

The Argentine/Chilean border itself occurs inside a long tunnel through the continental divide of the Andes.  After the tunnel, we stop at the combined border immigration and customs building, and, even though the system is easy to follow and not crowded, it takes over two hours for us to clear the paperwork.  I get frustrated with this border stuff!

The road into Chile and Santiago is all downhill, some of it ridiculously steep!  We pass a bunch of bicyclists climbing up the hill, and they all seem to be having a hard time of it, understandably.  As we approach the city, we hit several road toll booths, and, as we have not yet gotten any Chilean money, we are relieved to be able to pay the tolls in US dollars.  This is the first country since Central America to require tolls from motorcycles.  Too bad!  We stop outside of Santiago for gas, and have a quick burger at a McDonald’s there!

We enter the giant maze of Santiago, and are confronted by a huge city, with busy modern sections, fancy expensive commercial areas, large high-rise areas, slums and ruins, and amazing boulevards and plazas.  We search for hours for a hotel, and only get frustrated and tired.  We finally settle on an expensive ‘apart-hotel’, with two bedrooms and a kitchen.

We walk around our chosen neighborhood, and have dinner at an Uruguay restaurant that is very heavy in meat and sausage.  I am still in significant pain in my chest from the fall in Bolivia, and am glad to be off the bike.

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