Short Trip to Mendoza, Argentina
It’s been some time since I last posted, but here I am again with a little update of what’s been going on 🙂
Typically, you have a 3 month visa when you arrive in a new country. Time flew in Chile and 3 months came pretty fast. We’ve been enjoying the city so much that we hadn’t even made it to southern Chile yet, so, as backpackers do, we decided to jump to the border and extend our visa for Chile another 3 months. Lucky for us, the beautiful wine mecca of Mendoza, Argentina was just a short bus ride away from Santiago. Off we went!
Leaving to Argentina, we took the metro to the Estación Central and walked to the Turbus bus stand, which was one of the bus lines we took to Santiago that we really liked. The bus tickets ended up costing us $122 in total to go to Mendoza and back, which isn’t too bad considering both are hot travel destinations.
We were supposed to leave at 8 am, but the pass from Chile to Argentina was blocked off because of heavy snowfall. We ended up having to wait for some of the snow to melt and left just a little bit later. The views were so beautiful. We were surrounded by enormous mountains covered in glistening white snow almost the entire way. The drive is typically supposed to take around 8 hours, including crossing the border, but you won’t believe the luck that Alan and I had. However, we have come to learn that South American travel rarely goes according to plan.
When we reached the Chilean border we got in line to get our Chilean exit stamp. The officer at the border tells us (in Spanish), “You know, you over-stayed your visa for one day.” I gave him a puzzled look, like, no…? “We arrived in Chile March 17th and today’s June 16th…..? We have one more day, right?” I asked. He reiterated, “No, you stayed one day extra. I could send you to the military base and have you guys pay a fee.” Bummer.. I thought. I asked him what the fee was, but, fortunately, he decided not to charge us. “Don’t worry I am going to let you guys pass, ” he decided, sympathetically. Apparently, it’s 90 days, not 3 months. We won’t be making that mistake again. I didn’t take into consideration that March and May had an extra day… Oops!
Luckily, things ended up working out for us at that stop. After everyone finished getting their exit stamps for Chile and entry stamps into Argentina, it was time for the inspection. Everyone on the bus, their bags and everything on the bus was to be searched. However, to save time, border control decided to randomly select a few people to thoroughly check their bags. The hope to save time was quickly crushed when they searched the bus. They found cigarette cartons in the compartment above where the vents and lights are above peoples heads. Then, they found two cell phones hidden. These are items someone, or some some-ones, were trying to smuggle in, and that’s a big deal to Argentina. No one wanted to fess up for it, of course, so they ended up searching people that seemed suspicious. In Argentina, selling cell phones and cigarettes is a big, profitable, black-market business. People will pay triple the amount of money they would in Chile. I’m assuming, it’s either illegal or just seriously frowned upon when someone is trying to smuggle them into the country. On top of all of that, there was another individual on the bus who had four big bags full of clothes that he was planning to sell, but all of it was confiscated from border patrol.
You wouldn’t believe how long this process took. We ended up being there, at the border, for over 4 hours…! A trip that was supposed to take 8 hours ended up lasting over 12…..
Our trip in Mendoza was super short. We only stayed for two nights at this little cute hostel I found on Airbnb, Lao Hostel. We must say, it was pretty cold there. After a couple nights of cold winter weather we were ready to head back to sunny Chile. The return trip home to Santiago had zero problems, and, therefore, a much shorter bus ride than the way to Mendoza. 🙂