Monday, April 22, 2013

Argentina-Chile border crossing at Paso Los Libertadores

Two days ago, we made our third South American border crossing. We spent two hours going through border controls at Paso Los Libertadores where Argentinian and Chilean Immigration and Customs share a building. Our bus had to queue which took quite a while. We weren't even allowed to get off the bus until it was our turn.

As soon as our bus was given the go, we were asked to line-up with our documents and follow the conductor to the building. We first lined-up at the Argentinian Immigration window for our exit stamps. Then we lined-up at the next counter for our entry stamps into Chile. We kind of delayed the line since the officer was surprised to see Philippine passports. And she had to inquire with her colleagues how to process our visas since we are required to have them for entry into Chile.

With that settled, passengers were asked to board the bus and wait for our turn at Chilean Aduana (Customs). When our turn came up, everyone on the bus was asked to get off again, this time with all our belongings. We were then asked to line-up (firing squad style) in front of a long table where we placed our hand-carried items. They then collected our forms (Chile has a list of things to declare and make sure you do if you have something that's on the list or ask if you're not sure). At the same time, our luggage was unloaded from the bus and sent through the x-ray. If they find something in the luggage, they ask who the owner is and ask questions as soon as the owner approaches them. Once the luggage scan is done, passengers are then asked to pass their hand-carried items through the x-ray. When cleared, we were finally asked to board the bus again. It took a several more minutes before the bus was cleared to pass.

The travel time from Mendoza, Argentina to Santiago, Chile is approximately seven hours. There was an accident along the way plus road construction that added three hours to our trip, bringing our total travel time from Córdoba via Mendoza to Santiago de Chile to over 21 hours! 

Good thing the vineyards of Mendoza and the drive through the Andes Mountains, especially the Aconcagua Provincial Park, made the trip very interesting.
Our first two border crossings were less eventful. We had made a land trip from Brazil to Uruguay two weeks ago. The bus company had our passports and they were stamped in Brazil while we were sleeping. In Uruguay, it would have also been the same. But since we had visas, the bus attendant had to wake us up to fill in information the officer needed.

The river crossing last week from Uruguay to Argentina was even simpler. It was the first time I saw Immigration officers from two countries seated beside each other. First was the Uruguay exit stamp. Then they Uruguayan officer passes your passport to the Argentinian officer for your entry stamp, and it's done. So technically, you've entered Argentina while still in Uruguay. When we arrived in Buenos Aires, we went through customs and we were done.

Since I'm constantly on the road, it will be difficult to update the blog regularly. But you're sure to get daily updates from my Instagram and Twitter accounts. So do follow @ivanhenares on both.
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