It was a pleasant way to remember my not-long-enough solo backpacking trip to Argentina and Chile. Yesterday I met with a friend, in London. We were thinking it’s been 3 years already since we met in Santiago, and it seems like a long time ago…
From Atlantic to Pacific
In spring 2014, I went on a trip from Atlantic to Pacific in 2 weeks. It was a bit tiring and I def haven’t seen many of the beauties of the two countries, but it was a good start. I went Buenos Aires – Cordoba – Mendoza – Santiago – Valparaiso.
When I arrived in Buenos Aires, the next day it was 24 March, the National Day of Memory for Truth and Justice. I was not aware of it, but it was a very nice surprise. People went on the streets with flags, loud music, dancing, it was great to see.
I joined tours organized by the hostel I was staying in, so I got to explore the different parts of Buenos Aires. I also joined a free city tour, which I usually do when I have a few days in a big city. I was expecting to fall in love with the city since I grew up as a teen with the Rebelde Way series and I love Argentinian accent. But not as much as expected.
I didn’t feel unsafe at any point and people were very kind and helping. I also met a friend who told me more about the country from a local perspective and made me realize I had the tourist glasses on, seeing it all pink.
The long bus ride
Then I took a night bus to Cordoba. I met another friend there, visited a bit the city and in the evening took another night bus to Mendoza. It was a bit tough. When I got to Mendoza the next day all I wanted to see was a shower and a non-moving bed.
I booked my buses a bit in advance and I got to pick the front, upper seat, so I got a great view all the way. At some point, I could see only the straight road, empty fields and the sky full of stars. I could barely keep my eyes open, but still stayed up to admire the view, it was too beautiful.
Mendoza is a small mountain city, with great wines and beef and lots of travellers as well. I got my “batteries charged” there, then continued to Santiago.
I took a day bus this time, which crosses the Andes and the views are very nice. However, the already long ride of 8h (if I remember well) took over 10h. First, our bus broke in the mountains, with nothing nearby. I made some friends while at it, and it made the whole waiting more fun.
Then we got to the border, and halfway through the process, their systems went down, so the Chill-eans took a long break too. When we finally crossed the border, one of the roads was partially closed, so we had to wait an extra half an hour, just to top it up.
In the next days, I visited Santiago, which I liked a lot. It has a relaxed and joyful vibe, which made me feel the same during my stay. I visited the touristy stuff and took the free city tour, as usual. I will mention only La Chascona, Pablo Neruda’s house, which is lovely. I like his writings, and I was sure I would like his home as well. Valparaiso is very colourful and hilly, and the same pleasure to walk around.
On my way back, I took a flight from Santiago to Buenos Aires. I didn’t have enough time to go by land back. And you can book only return tickets, even if you want just one way. When I crossed the border into Chile, they gave you a small paper, which you are supposed to keep until you leave the country. Well, it got messed up with other things and I totally forgot about it.
When I got to the airport, they asked me for the paper. I explained that I’ve lost it, and they didn’t seem to bother to tell me that it’s ok, I can fill in another one. After getting a bit upset and going from counter to counter, I finally got directions on what to do. There were not many people at the airport, so I guess I got a bit of unwanted attention.
I was waiting for my flight when 2 drugs police officers came to me. They were very suspicious and quite rude, asking me why do I speak Spanish, why did I stay only 4 days in Chile and why do I say I won’t be back since I bought a return ticket. I showed them the pictures from my trip. But they said those could be fake, so I need to show a “better” proof that I’m just a tourist.
I didn’t have any internet connection to show some tickets, so that didn’t help. Everybody on my flight was already on the plane. And they said if I cannot prove I’m a tourist, they won’t let me board. Then I got more upset. After searching through my backpack (which luckily I had as hand luggage), I finally found my journal. It had a lot of details of this travel and past ones. I can understand they were just doing their job and I took my flight all good in the end, but it was such an unpleasant experience.
All in all, it was a very interesting trip. I visited new places, been on the road for hundreds of km and met old friends and new friends.