We painfully crossed the border into Chile on March 20. Chile does not like anything Peruvian so folks have to take everything out of their cars and pass it through an xray machine. We laughed (in a crazy way) when we saw this – how long would we be here??! But it turns out that Chile has Golden Retrievers trained to sniff out Peruvian food and they walked through the camper and got really excited about the dog food and left. They took our Peruvian vegetables and our lentils. We managed to keep Frank’s pink seed potatoes, minor victory which we all celebrated! The Border Guards told us that Chile was the United States of South America. We were not sure what that meant.
We drove 20 miles from Peru in a state of wonder. How could this be? Where were the Cholita ladies with the cocoa leaves stuck to their faces? Where were the combis with the gigantic Jesus decals? Where were the motos with the Batman decals? Where were the burning tires? It was like a paradise. We found a lovely camping spot on the beach. Later on, we would find out that the entire 10 mile beach turned into a party / make out spot when the bars close (and the bars don’t close until 4:30am).
The border people told us to shop at a place called Hyper Lider and we needed groceries so we found a camping spot on the beach and headed to Hyper Lider. You will never guess what Hyper Lider is. Hyper Lider is: WALMART. We were unprepared for that. We actually had to leave and come back. And even then we couldn’t really shop, like with a cart. We left with a cake and some chocolate and four bottles of wine. Can’t beat that for dinner.
We spent the next few days getting things in order for Chile. We needed new sim cards and a new modem and such. Chile, we found, is expensive. Northern Chile was as expensive as Fairbanks, except for wine, olives, olive oil and things made from olives and grapes. Its the Chilean Triple: olives, olive oil and wine. A fine bottle of Carménère wine is $3 USD while a small bag of dry pasta is also $3 USD.
We found the gigantic fruit and vegetable market and did some shopping and we were ready to head out of town!
We do not really know where we are going. The farther south we go, the more winter-like it gets. The ferries to Ushuaia have winter schedules starting April 1. Ryan now wants to go to Uruguay and Paraguay. Argentina began charging $165 visa fee on January 1. We have no real plans, except to see penguins. We are headed to San Pedro de Atacama for the next few days and then we will see what happens.