A Long Bus Ride – Part 1

My watch has been broken for a couple weeks (though I am still wearing it) and the alarm on Jason’s doesn’t work. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep well at the immigration office parking lot, worried that we wouldn’t wake up on time. Of course, at 5 am the truckers started revving up their diesels, and there would be no way we could have slept through it. Bode did.

Jason went to the aduana window where they were holding his passport. Only 80 vehicles were allowed to pass, so there was a crowd of truckers and  a few motorists at the window. The official was yelling names and getting 100 truck drivers yelling back “He’s not here, he’s sleeping!” Quite a system Jason finally made his way up to the window just as the guy was looking confused at a U.S. passport – unable to pronounce his name. Jason yelled ‘gringo! aqui!‘ and the aduana guy smiled at him with relief. We were free to head to the front of the line of vehicles.

We passed 50 or so trucks waiting along the road (the others were in the lot where we had camped) and headed to the front behind about 7 other cars. It was still dark and cold and we weren’t really sure what was going on. It was supposed to be a caravan, and we were a bit worried about having cars and trucks stuck behind us if we had a problem.

Turns out it was no issue. The leader car started us early (about 6:15 and soon there was plenty of space behind us). Throughout the day, the trucks behind us would overtake us on the uphills and we would pass them on the downhill sections. A few more cars passed us, but other than that we didn’t see any other cars. This allowed us to stop a few times; to put up the bed when Bode finally woke up and to stretch our legs once.

It was a long road, but most of the time it was 2 lanes. There were actually some higher passes (one was 4850 meters) before the only one listed on the map: “Pasa de Jama”, the Argentinian border at 4200 meters.  At the top, the route took us in and out of the dirt in some places. This was sort of strange, as there wasn’t much snow NOT on the paved roads in these places. But, this was an unusual storm, leaving up to 3 meters of nieve. There’s no equipment up here, so the pass had been closed for over 3 weeks.

The bus was running great, and after about 4 hours we reached the Argentina border, where the whole process was easy and quick. We didn’t even have to fill out any forms. They typed in our passport and vehicle title info and handed us our papers to sign. 90 days. Easy.

We sat in the parking lot eating all the fruit, sandwich meat and cheese we could before they did a cursory search. We offered up what we couldn’t finish and they pointed us to the trash can. They never looked at our food or fridge, so we probably could have gotten by with keeping it.

And so, we took off into Argentina…country #15!

4 thoughts on “A Long Bus Ride – Part 1

  • August 2, 2011 at 7:49 AM

    I passed that border ages ago when I did my SA trip. I actually calculated in over 330 hours on the bus. No more buses for me.

    The main thing I remember at this border crossing, besides the amazing view and the insane trip down from the Andes into Santiago, was how strict they were about my fruit 🙂

  • August 2, 2011 at 8:21 AM

    ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, bode sleeps.

  • August 2, 2011 at 12:20 PM

    Your entering Argentina sends me on a trip into memory lane. Argentina holds a special place in my heart, as I spent 28mo as a MSG at the American Embassy in Buenos Aires in the early 60’s. Yes I said the 60’s!! Beautiful country, beautiful people, and beef, how wonderful the beef was. I hope you leave with as many wonderful memories as I did. One thing that still amazes me after all those years is that here I was in a country know for its beef and we could not buy beef two days a week in the store. Go figure!! Also if you ordered french fries with a meal you didn’t get long skinny fries like you get here in the states (like McDonald’s) you got round puffy (size of quarter, half dollar) It would be interesting to know if they are still the same.

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