BIKE IMPORT PROBLEMS
Our departure from Santiago was not going to plan as there were major problems with the bike documents. Despite our efforts to process the bike we were unable to get access as the original Airway Bill had gone missing. Assurances from our shipping agent in Australia that the Bill was attached to the crate did not assist us as the only documents with the crate were the detailed list of the contents (original) hand written by Carol and a very poor quality photocopy of the original Airway Bill. Where the original had got to no one knew and our agents in Santiago refused to budge until an original had been received. So the tedious task of arranging our Australian agent to ship a “copy” of the original bill through DHL began. At this point in time our experiences with DHL were not good as a small package being sent from Australia to Santiago with my spectacles had gone missing. The four day journey for this package eventually blew out to eleven days!!!!
Walking to the top of Cerro Santa Lucia, Santiago Chile
Felipe, our shipping helper
Meanwhile, Mario, our helper from the HU community in Santiago, offered to put us in contact with a customs agent friend who could possibly help with our dilemma. How quickly things move when the right people are involved. Within minutes of his phone call the ball was rolling. Letters were being typed and faxes sent. The next morning we met with our agent and paid the necessary fees then headed to the cargo terminal where we met our fixer who was to process all our papers. By 6.00pm, after paying a seven day storage fee, we were staring at our crated bike. Assembly took just over three hours so, shortly after 9.00pm, we were heading into Santiago to our Hostel. This process took a total of 29 hours. Our thanks go to the motorcycle community in Santiago and especially to Mario, Felipe and German for all their help. To date we have not had an explanation as to what went wrong with our shipment but one thing for sure is that the original Airway Bill for future shipments will be carried by us.
Uncrating the bike Santiago Airport
Our bike in the hallway of the Hostal Santiago
Despite our shipping woes our social life in Santiago was excellent. On one of our many walks into the CBD we saw a parked R1150GSA with sidecar. The Kentucky plates assured us this was not a local rig so we left a card on the bike for the owner to contact us. Bob lives in Santiago with his Chilean wife Gloria and they certainly made a great addition to our social life. We look forward to meeting them again, maybe on the road or back in Santiago.
Our package from Australia arrived about one week after the bike was released so the service from DHL left much to be desired. Once again, no explanation was provided why the parcel flew the long way round the world to South America instead of across the Pacific. Snail mail would have been cheaper and quicker I think.
Angelica and Mario, Santiago
This week also allowed us to do a few things to the bike which included a head change due to incorrect valve seats on reconditioned heads done in Australia. Once again Mario came to our assistance with an introduction to “Johnny” his local mechanic. He also offered assistance with some electrical problems …. One being our tacho which was not functioning correctly since an overhaul in Aus. This would have to wait though.
All the crew at Johnny Motos, Santiago
Johnny with his Spanish-English dictionary
View of the Andes on Ruta 57, Chile
Ruta 60 to the Border with Argentina
Our departure to Argentina was a little later than expected and, combined with the long weekend, the border crossing at the Paso Los Libertadores (3832mtr) was a long process. A two hour wait in the cue before an hour of document processing saw us riding in the dark to Uspallata. Not only was this a long day it was very cold as well and our arrival at the Hostel was welcomed with a hot shower, steak and a beer.
Ruta 60 to the border, Chile
Ruta 7 Argentina
Ice at Las Cuevas border post to Argentina
YHA Uspallata, Argentina
San Rafael was much larger than we expected and the tree lined wide streets made for a pleasant ride into town after a very windy 200 + kms journey from Uspallata. Contacting John and Annette (world MC travelers from UK who have bought a farm in Argentina) proved a little difficult as our Spanish is non existent however a helpful local whose daughter spoke English rang John and left a message. Unable to contact them they then offered to guide us to the finca (farm). En route John returned the call and offered to meet us on the way. The Finca …at last. Annette was in Buenos Aires collecting her brother, Keith, who was over from the UK for a couple of weeks so we had a quiet night beside the fire discussing the hard life of farming with John. The next week was spent socializing with travelers Grant and Julie (Aussies) in San Rafael and John, Annette and Keith before we headed back to Santiago to collect some surplus gear and get the electrical gremlins sorted out on the bike.
John and Ken on the farm, San Rafael, Argentina
Two days of sorting and socializing in Santiago saw us tackling the Paso Los Libertadores (pass over Andes between Santiago and Mendoza) once again. What a great ride, tunnels, trucks, snow, hairpins and scenery. Our border crossings both ways were painless and a lot quicker. A special thanks here to Johnny the mechanico for fixing our tachometer gremlins.
Along Ruta 7 to the Argentina/Chile Border
That´s were we are going
The sign says "Welcome to Chile" but we are leaving
Mendoza….Tree lined streets, side walk cafes…and shops everywhere….We spent three nights and two days here and could have spent longer. Also did a guided tour of the city which ended in a local chocolate factory. Carol was very strong though and only ate the offered samples.
All the gang, San Rafael, Argentina
Back to San Rafael to enjoy the company of John, Annette, Grant, Julie and travelers met in Australia, Hamish and Emma (UK). Eight motorcycle travelers cooped up in one little house. What a great time. Everyone was so busy…playing cards, eating, drinking, working a little on the farm and preparing the bikes for the next leg of their respective journeys.
Atuel Canyon outside San Rafael
On one of our leisure days we enjoyed a ride through Atuel Canyon and Valle Grande. Lunch at El Nihuil a small village at a local dam preceded the ride though this scenic gorge. There were a few landslides to contend with but tossing a few rocks aside did not deter our efforts. The ride culminated with an ice cream at Valle Grande and a great ride along the banks of Rio Atuel back to the finca.
A few rocks won´t stop us
The party had to end some time. First Grant and Julie departed for Buenos Aires to prepare for their next leg… shipping to South Africa. Then Hamish and Emma departed heading to Chile for the ISDE and finally us. Ushuaia is calling but there is much to see on the way south.
Grant and Julie leaving for BA and beyond
All the gang again
Hamish and Emma leaving for the ISDE in Chile
Heading south to Malargue along Ruta 40, information concerning the road surface was not good with broken, pot-holed bitumen the best we could expect. The early paved road was excellent but deteriorated rapidly to very loose gravel which I believe is called ripio in these parts. The pot-holed bitumen had been reduced to rubble with a grader moving slowly north endeavoring to smooth out the surface. This combined with the severe crosswind made life very interesting. The courtesy of the rumbling trucks allowing us to pass upwind (wrong side of the road) of the enveloping dust caused a little concern with Carol but I believe these drivers do this often. Our late start had us heading to a hostel at Bardas Blancas approximately 260 kms away. Arriving around 3.45pm we were a little surprised to find the place closed. We did a quick loop through the very small village to see if there was an alternative but no luck. We pushed on. The day finished around 6.45pm in Buta Ranquil after covering 456 kms with around 200 kms being ripio and all having strong, gusty crosswinds. Our efforts to find a clean, reasonably priced hotel were not fruitful until we met up with two Belgium cyclists we had just passed on the outskirts of town. Christina and Marc had had two very tough days covering some rough, hilly roads and were also looking for a comfortable bed so we combined forces and Christina with her excellent Spanish negotiated a substantial drop in price from the first quoted. We slept well.
Riding down the smooth part of Ruta 40, Argentina
Ripio on Ruta 40, Argentina
The next day we departed late again after talking at length with Marc and Christina. They have traveled extensively and through many of the countries we have been. It was good exchanging tales and experiences. Leaving we passed them in the main street. Christina had a flat tyre. They were not heading into a good day. The headwind that greeted us was severe. They had 90 kms of this but some reprieve was the road was smooth and new.
Monkey Puzzle trees before the Chilean border, Paso de Pino Hachado
Our plan today was to ride to La Suizandina, near Malalchuello in Chile. It nearly worked. A ride on mostly paved roads but included a border crossing back into Chile. Paso de Pino Hachado at 2,800 metres was not high but it was sure cold. Small forests of “Monkey Puzzle” Araucaria Pines clung to the steep mountain sides. I remarked to Carol that they looked very similar to our Bunya Pines back in Aus but they appeared a little stunted perhaps due to the cold. With patches of snow and ice dotting the gravel road we were glad to reach the down side into Chile which was great. Fantastic paved sweepers heading down into a very lush green valley. The Chilean customs and immigration were located in a far warmer place than the Argentinean border post however both customs and immigration forgot some important papers we needed to complete. Having done these three times already we were on top of it all. The officials were too busy checking out the bike. It took a bit of time to get our message across but all was sorted in the end. This delay and the cold weather caused us to stay in Lonquimay for a night and we found a very pleasant hotel run by two mature ladies who could not do enough for us despite the language barrier. It was very cold but our three course meal plus a bottle of delicious Chilean red was ample to keep us warm under the weight of four blankets and a doona.
Near Lonquimay, Chile
La Suizandina is a Hosteria providing camping, cabins and rooms and was constructed by two Swiss bicycle riders Tom and Eva over the past nine years. We camped for the first time in this slice of Chilean beauty. Deciding to cook also, we purchased supplies from Lonquimay and ferried them the 45 kilometers through the one way (toll) Tunel Las Raices. Nestled between two volcanoes the scenery is nothing short of spectacular but this is becoming the norm down here and from what we can gather it gets better the further south we go.
Our campground at La Suizandina, Chile
Doing the dishes
We departed on a cold overcast day and headed west to do a loop around Park Nacional Conguillio which also has Volcano Llaima parked in the middle. The day deteriorated to rain and we stopped in Cunco for a break until the weather cleared. Tomorrow we tackle the border back to Argentina
Street dogs with cardboard kennels in Santiago, Chile
THE JOURNEY BEGINS……………..28/09/2007
Lan Chile flight LA800 exited Australia with little effort. The past six weeks of our lives did not enjoy the same organization. For those who have done this type of adventure you know the excitement is sometimes dulled by the sheer volume of things to be done before departing.
From the beginning of 2007 we knew that our plate was full but the jobs at hand were do-able provided all ran smoothly. The house renovations went well and it looked better than expected after the efforts of very good friends and travelers. A big thank you goes to Bob, Sandra, Joachim, Cordula, Vincent, Mike and Jane.
Our efforts reaped the reward with the house selling quickly. A sad day as we said goodbye. Many memories of travelers were enjoyed at number ten. Those of you who have stayed with us know the fun we have all enjoyed and we thank you for sharing these times.
Carol ‘retired’ on the 24th August 2007 and I finished one week earlier. Our tasks to complete before 28th September (departure date) included selling the house, land, furniture and two motor vehicles. Packing and moving is not relished by either of us. The problem in sorting personal items is dividing the rubbish from quality memorabilia. We tend to relive the joys of getting these bits and pieces which causes a time management problem.
The house sale was completed on 31st August and we moved to our good friends Mike and Jane who fortunately live just around the corner. Within a few hours we had reduced their orderly house and lifestyle to utter chaos with the frantic sorting continuing and the assembly of the bike after a repaint and maintenance schedule. This continued until the day we left despite our long hours.
Our farewell party enticed people from far a field. Brian from Adelaide, John & Sharon from Cairns, Charlie from Newcastle along with Peter and Kay Forwood who interrupted their travels to join us. A great night!! Thanks for coming everyone.
The bike was crated up on 20th August. We had a few problems with Dangerous Goods but it all came good after a few phone calls. The celebrity life took hold a few days before departure with two news papers doing articles plus a radio interview and a small exposure on television.
Farewells at the airport had a few teary eyes. Phil and Jenny from Cairns dropped down along with Mike and Jane, Carol’s Mum and Dad and her brother Wayne. See you all in June 2008.
Now we are kicked back at a friendly hostel in Santiago waiting for the bike to arrive. It should be here actually, and just needs collecting. Monday is the day… Mario, from the HU community in Santiago has been instrumental in allowing a smooth transition to this continent on the other side of the world. Our Spanish is non existent but we will learn once we reach our base in San Rafael, Argentina.
Meanwhile our Santiago social life continues as we enjoy the hospitality of the motorcycling community.
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