On our first big motorcycle trip, we rode through a small town in northern New Mexico. I don’t remember the name of the place as we were only there for a moment, but I know that llamas were freely walking around, latinos were riding horses instead of driving cars and it honestly felt as if we had warped backwards in time. As we floated past this simple farming community, Kristen turned to me with a huge grin stretched across her face and said,
“Do you feel like we’re in South America right now?”
For whatever reason, that moment stuck with me and has been constantly nagging at the back of my mind ever since. That little town got my imagination churning with ideas - from that moment, I knew that our future was going to be full of crazy adventures. And today, adventure smacked us squarely in the front teeth.
Today, Kristen, BigBoi and I hit the streets of South America!
Cathy once again drove us from Santiago to San Antonio, this time armed with reinforcements - her boyfriend. We made one final trip to the Aduana (Customs) where they promptly prepared the documents we needed. We then headed to the port, where we received the final bit of documentation to complete the process.
We had been back and forth between the Aduana and the port that everyone seemed to know us. It was almost as if they were rooting us on to finally get our bike - in fact, the woman pictured above actually came with Kristen and I when we went to the warehouse just to make sure things went smoothly...
Before we knew it, the only thing between us and our bike was the crate that it had been shipped in!
We’re still not totally sure what happened (we think our shipping broker, Gaston, may have pulled a few strings) but three men working in the warehouse helped free BigBoi from his wooden prison. Without them, I have no idea how we would have been able to get to the bike.
As soon as I was able, I slid the key in and heard the most beautiful noise - the big BMW engine easily turning over. And just like that, I rode the bike out to a bit of fanfare from our helpers.
After saying our goodbyes to the warehouse staff (and regretfully giving up the hardhat I had been wearing that was meant for a 6-year old), we rode off into San Antonio! It only took a week of trying, but with Cathy’s help we were finally free to tour Chile!
I’m dead serious when I say that without Cathy’s help, we would have been in so much trouble. Like I’ve said before, our Spanish speaking capabilities are not great (they’re getting better though), and seeing as the issues were all due to problems with our paperwork - we were in for some serious trouble. So, thank you for your time and energy!
And then we were off! After 8 months of planning, a month and half of BigBoi on a ship, and a week of trying to bail him out of Customs, we were finally riding in Chile. At our first stop light, with every pedestrian in a mile radius staring and pointing, Kristen and I turned to each other and laughed. What a ridiculous adventure this would be.
We knew we wanted to head to the Andes right away so we headed north up the coastline towards Valparaiso.
To our surprise, 15 minutes out of San Antonio we heard honking behind us - lo and behold, Christian and Cathy were looking for one last photo op!
We eventually made our way out of a very Texas-like landscape and into the hills. As we neared to Valparaiso, we spotted smoke on the horizon.
As we found out later from the news, a portion of Vina del Mar (directly next to Valparaiso) had caught on fire. We could smell the smoke from miles away.
As we continued on, the hills started to grow larger and the Andes dominated the horizon.
Around 6:30 PM, after 4 hours of riding, we completed our first day in the aptly named, Los Andes.
We found a little hotel in the center of town with an “estacionamiento seguro” (secure parking) and called it a night.
We topped off the evening with a 4-course meal that was apparently included in the price of the hotel. Bonus! Hopefully this is a trend.
My initial reaction to driving in Chile is very positive. We weren’t totally sure how people would react to our rig, but they love it. Everybody seems to have a camera, everybody waves and honks and shouts - it’s a fun time. The main highways in Chile are easily as good as the highways in the States. Once you leave them, however, things change. I will be very interested to see how road conditions vary.
Adventure makes me tired. Goodnight!