I planned to leave Santiago on the 1st of May and take a bus to Mendoza, Argentina. The only problem was the high altitude Andes Mountains border crossing’s exposure to snow storms, landslides and other road-closing events.
On the 1st I caught the metro and eventually found the correct bus station (Santiago has several). There I was told the border was closed. As I had bought my ticket online, I could not change it at the bus station and needed to telephone the website operator for a refund.
The next day the border remained closed.
The border reopened on the 3rd of May so I packed up again and took the metro with Noe and Santiago (the person) who were returning to Cordoba, Argentina. At the bus station we met Aivy, a Lithuanian materials scientist going home via Rio. Aivy had accepted a post-doctorate position in the USA researching adhesives for climbing robots on a project funded by NASA. Together the four of us bought tickets, visited a nearby supermarket and waited to catch our van.
Andes Mountains on the Chilean side
At a break on the Chilean side I wandered and found these chickens
Climbing into the Andes the road gained altitude via many consecutive switchbacks
Chair lift on the Chilean side at a ski resort yet to open for the winter season
This old Mercedes car, building and landscape were covered in snow
Both sides of the border contained an abandoned train line. I would love to cross the Andes by train one day.
The old train line on the Argentinian side had a tunnel created to shelter it from the elements
Chile and Argentina share the border crossing building and work from the same booths processing people departing Chile and entering Argentina. Passenger vehicles waited in one location while freight vehicles were processed elsewhere.
Arriving to the queue about 5pm, I was uncertain how long we would wait. Seven hours later our van was finally processed and at midnight we left. Thankfully I was with good company and at a scenic border location surrounded by snow capped mountains. The Chile exit was quick and easy. Entering Argentina, our bags required searching. Because of tariffs and other protectionist measures, Argentinian electronics are expensive. Customs officers searched for phones and any other devices brought in to sell on the black market.
The border queue at dusk as viewed from the opposing hill
Silhouettes at the border; Santiago with his new, fluoro orange shoes is on the right
Our van with blue window shades reflected in melted snow at the border queue
The road to Mendoza passes Aconcagua, at 6,962 metres tall, the highest mountain outside Asia. As we drove past in the early morning I was sleeping and missed it.
At Mendoza bus station I farewelled Noi, Santiago and the other companions and shared a taxi with a kind local. Arriving to Hostel Lao at 3am I enjoyed the luxury of the only bed left – a private room.