June 28, 2005 GMT
Lunging

Mario the Croatian driver was ever so pleased to see me and gave me a big hug. And the hotel have put me in one of the best rooms for the same price as before.

Ye gods, the difference 1300 miles north makes. I´ve been walking round in a T-shirt today, and the snowline is at around 5000 feet instead of sea-level. The bike´s going great, but I´ve had to do a few of those bedding-down tweaks you always need after the first few hundred miles. And I managed to get hold of a rivet gun and rivets to fix the VIN plate to the new frame. Shhh.

When you enter Chile you get 90 days (or thereabouts - sometimes it´s 3 months). Now, my time´s nearly up, so I´ve needed to extend both my immigration permit and the bike temporary import papers (Chile doesn´t recognise the carnet). So, this morning I went to the appropriate office and organised my Amplicación de Turismo, a surprisingly painless process apart from the $100 fee and the sudden lunge you have to make when your number comes up as the chap at the indicated window gives no more than 3 seconds before pressing the button again for the next number.

Next to Customs. No way, José. Or rather, all too mucho difficult even though the chaps at the border rather helpfully wrote an explanatory note on the existing papers about the accident. Bugger.

So tomorrow I head north. The problem is this:

a) All passes over the Andes north of here (except the one to La Paz) are over 10,000 feet (and one or two are as high as 15,000).

b) Only two are paved: the one to La Paz and the Cristo Redentor (to Mendoza in Argentina. In my present state I´m not going to attempt unpaved roads, especially in snow.

c) The Cristo Redentor, about 50 miles north of here, is closed due to heavy snow.

d) La Paz is not currently a recommended holiday destination, even by my standards (hey, Beirut, south Waziristan, you name it).

So it looks as though I´ll not be able to get to Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay or Paraguay unless by some miracle the situation in Bolivia improves. And because I can´t cross to Argentina I have to ride hell-for-leather to Peru (and get there by next Thursday), which is over 2000km from here with plenty to see on the way. Ho hum. But if I ride fastish (and the PanAmericana is actually a very good road) I should get to see the really interesting things properly, like the Atacama Desert.

Posted by Cynthia Milton at June 28, 2005 07:06 PM GMT
 



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