A quick trip to the town square, and things were completely different. There were no more tents and police in full gear were roaming at every corner. The square had been cleared. There were no civilians. It was an eery feeling.
I asked both the police and the tourist office about the blockades (now open ever 2 hours).
I headed back to the cabin and we finished loading up the car. After 11 days in Coyhaique, we had a plan. Not a perfect plan, but a plan to get out nonetheless.
We passed 3 abandoned (but still smoldering) roadblocks on the way out of town. Then we came to the big one that normally blocked off access to Argentina. The trucks were still parked on both sides but we squeezed through and were able to pass it without issue. I’m not sure if I mentioned this before, but the truckers are the ones that are controlling most of the roadblocks. So, it isn’t surprising that they looked rather comfortable around their asadas and mates as we crept between the single lane between them.
We couldn’t believe the luck– no waiting!
Then, we had to wait. The border control office in Chile (Coyaique Alto) was not open. They were conserving their diesel for their generators. After about an hour, they fired up the generators and we were allowed to go through the process of exiting Chile. High-fives all around.
What we didn’t anticipate was trouble entering Argentina. Despite crossing about 20 borders (twice before into Argentina), these officials insisted we needed a notarized form that said that Bode was our son. And one that said that Jason and I were married. My reaction– think! Jason go to the car and look through our paperwork…do we have anything?
While Jason looked, I explained calmly that we didn’t have anything, and that we had no gas and we couldn’t go back to Chile. I told him I thought I could dig up some photos of Bode’s birth, but he declined. 45 minutes, with frustrated looks from all the Chilean/Argentines who can usually go through this process in a matter of minutes. They explained that child-trafficking was a big problem and that we simply would not be allowed in the country. Finally, he made a phone call, and eventually we were allowed in. On to customs.
The woman at the aduana office asked for our exit papers from the last time we were in Argentina. What? We don’t have those, never did. They take those when you leave. According to her, they should have given us 3 copies. Umm, nope. They dug through all the papers that we’d brought in looking for Bode’s birth certificate. Nada.
We explained the 2 entry and 2 exit points we’d used in Argentina before, and told her we should be in the computer. So much for these countries with a computer system being easier. We were in there all right, but it took 2 women and another phone call for them to figure out they could just print those out and write in the name of the entry point. Jason signed 4 copies, they kept one and gave us the other 3. We still don’t understand that bit, but whatever – we were in.
We scratched our head about how we could have such problems getting into Argentina a 3rd time, and why it was both the immigration AND the Customs. If this was our first entry into the country and couldn’t point to those other stamps and already have the car in the computer system… we’d have been screwed.
We were not surprised to find that there was no gas in the closest town (not on the map). But we found the town restaurant/mini market and had dinner. We lingered and watched Casino Royale in Spanish with the proprietors. They kindly let us park out back for the night. We were to leave the next morning at 10 am and go ’til we ran out of gas. Fingers crossed some person we’ve never met would buy us gasoline and meet us in the middle of nowhere.
He did. Phil is our new hero.
We went all the way to Rio Mayo and filled the tanks, bought a bunch of beer, and booked it over the municipal campground.
Phil’s driven all over the world and has no plan of stopping any time soon. Aside from escaping Coyhaique (by buying all the cooking oil off the store shelves), he regaled us with stories of driving across the globe. Mongolia sounded pretty amazing. It’s on my list.
As the beer flowed and night fell, a few more cars pulled into the camp site. Wait – I know that VW! Then another… wait, we know that VW too!