That’s right. We were rejected at the border trying to get into Chile. It’s the second time we’ve ever been turned away from a country. The other time was our rejection into Canada, (remember here).
Going to Chile was critically important for us. Or rather, I should say that leaving Peru was critically important. Our vehicle permit was set to expire and we needed to exit the country or risk losing our van.
We really hadn’t anticipated any problems at the border. We’ve crossed our fair share and have the routine dialed. We followed our standard operating procedure and left nice and early. The 7 hour drive south along the southern Peruvian coast was beautiful.
We had planned to spend the night in the border town of Tacna on the Peru side, and then cross into Chile the next morning. I hate border towns. They are shifty, usually dirty, and have lots of crime, but often it is necessary to post up before crossing into a new country. After arriving in Tacna I spent an hour running around in the 90 degree heat looking for a room. Everything was sold out. I made the judgment call to go for the border with the intention to make it over to Arica on the other side before dark.
Below, resting in the plaza after failing to secure a room for the night in Tacna…
We drove on to the border and managed to check out of Peru with no hassles. It was hot, and we were all feeling tired from the drive, but we could see the end in sight. We crossed into Chile and drove up to the immigration/Aduana check points.
Things started going wrong. After waiting in a long line we finally made it up to imigration and my passport was missing. After a huge freak out I determined it must be back in Peru. We packed up and drove back across the border. It was there.
We returned to Chile and repeated the long line. After getting stamped into the country, the officials proceeded to search our entire van. We were not anticipating this level of search. In all the countries we’ve crossed into, (Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, and Peru), we had never been so abused by search. It’s not that we would generally care, other than the fact that we were smuggling Kiki, our dog, under the bed. And they found her.
We’ve smuggled Kiki across countless borders and it’s not the first time we’ve been caught. But in every other country, there was nothing that a $20 spot wouldn’t or couldn’t fix. Not this time. When I alluded to a bribe, the Chilean Aduana official looked at me and said in perfect english…
“This is NOT Peru. There is NO corruption in Chile”
Ok then, adios developing countries, hello first world. I’d like to say I missed you, but I haven’t.
Below, Soleil has a melt down in the afternoon heat while I hassle with the border agents…
The border agent was telling us to return to Peru. After the bribe was rejected I tried to reason with him. I even pleaded with him. It was late and it wasn’t safe to drive back to Tacna. Tacna was dangerous. There were no rooms available and I had a family to look out for. He wasn’t bending. Finally we packed up and headed back to Peru.
Peru of course welcomed us back with open arms. They gave us a new 90 day visa and permit. While we were driving back to Tacna, Stevie used the cell phone to try and find us a room. She scored, and got us a great place.
We even found safe parking for the van, which is often the biggest crux in any town. Because we are so tall, we usually don’t fit in 95% of the secure parking lots. We have to search and search until we find one with an open end like this…
Our original plan to spend a month in Chile was blown. We needed a bunch of paper work for Kiki that would take a while to obtain. We were road worn and tired. We decided to take a couple days and post up in… yes, Tacna.
To our pleasant surprise, Tacna turned out to be a cool town. We stayed at a great hostel, Copacabana. We found good restaurants and nice people.
Below, Soleil enjoying hostel life while watching Plaza Sesamo (Sesami Street in Spanish), covered in her own milk vomit…
Because of our lifestyle we never know where we’ll end up at night, so we often end up co-sleping with Sol. I originally didn’t think this would be any problem. That was before I became aware of her patented sleeping style which absorbs 40-60% of a Latin American matrimonial bed.
As she grows bigger, I’m pretty much screwed.
After a couple days in Tacna we decided to take advantage of the new 90 day permit and head back up to Arequipa. Our friend Marco is due to arrive there in a week and there is plenty of kayaking in the area. From there we’ll figure out our next step.