We left Amsterdam on 21st November and arrived in Chile´s capital Santiago after an 18 hours flight with a stop in Buenos Aires. The last part of the flight was quite nice, flying over the Argentinean Pampa and then crossing the Andes with America’s highest peak – the Aconcagua in sight. After arrival we picked up our luggage and went to the rental cars desk where we wanted to pick up our car. For crossing the border to Argentina with a rental car you need a special cross border permit. I had requested everything neatly in advance, but it wasn´t there yet. They told us that it would take another 2 – 3 hours before they would receive the permit. We organized some food and money from the ATM and after a couple of hours waiting time we finally left the airport direction north to the border. We had planned to drive as far as possible this afternoon and finally stranded in a place called San Felipe. Searching for a campsite was hopeless as they were either ridiculously expensive or abandoned. Finally we gave up and stayed in an even more expensive hotel in the centre of San Felipe. After some fish and chips for dinner we walked back to the hotel and witnessed una fiesta on the streets.
Next day after breakfast we continued on our way to Argentina. The road goes straight through the Andes and we climbed higher and higher until we arrived at the border or so we thought at least but they winked us through to drive further. We drove through a long tunnel and officially where in Argentina already, but still no passport control. As you expect the border control to be on the road so you cannot miss it, we passed a little village called Puente del Incas – famous for its natural arch and hot springs – and after a while we got suspicious as we were on Argentinean ground quite a while now. Finally there was a guy on the road stopping us and telling us that we had missed the border control and that we needed to go back approx. 15 km, so we did and finally saw an old grey building on the right side of the road. There we got a lot of stamps and they searched our car for food, which is forbidden to take across the border. At last we were free to go to Mendoza, the Argentinean wine capital. Also here we were not lucky with camping as the campsite was fully booked because of a festival. We ended up in Hostel Suites in a dorm. Fine. For now.
Mendoza is situated in the dessert, but throughout the city there are water channels which run alongside the roads, supplying water to the many trees and there are a lot of parks and fountains which make you forget about the desert around Mendoza.
In Mendoza we changed money on the “cambio blue” for the first time. Because of the devaluation of the Peso which makes your money worth less every day, there are two different rates in the country – the official change rate you will get when using an ATM or official money changing office and the unofficial moneychanger on the streets, where you can get as much as 50% more pesos for your Dollar or Euro. So we brought al lot of cash from home.