Welcome to our travel blog. We are Tabitha and Nic. In 2011 we 'retired' in our early 40s and set off to travel the world. We spent our first year in South America and have been lucky enough to make two trips to Antarctica.

Our blog is a record of our travels, thoughts and experiences. It is not a guide book, but we do include some tips and information, so we hope that you may find it useful if you are planning to visit somewhere we have been. Or you may just find it interesting as a bit of armchair travel.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Lousy border crossings

What is it about the Chile/Argentina (or vice versa) border crossing?  It is terrible, and certainly the worst that we have encountered in our travels in South America so far. 

We have done it three times now.  The first was while we were on the truck and we crossed from Argentina to Chile at San Pedro de Atacama.  We had arrived for approximately when the border opens, to try to beat the rush, and we were about fourth in the queue, but it still took us about an hour to leave Argentina and another hour to get into Chile.

The second was the daytime bus journey from Santiago, Chile to Mendoza, Argentina a couple if weeks ago.  That took us two hours despite there being virtually no queue.

But this time took the biscuit.  If you have read the posting called Santiago stopover, you will know that we got the night bus back from Mendoza to Santiago.  We got to the border at about 1:30 am.  We had hoped that crossing at night might be a bit quicker than the two hours that it had been during the day, but no.

Having hit the edge of the border point, and I do mean within a hundred metres,  we crawled up to the crossing itself for about an hour. We then all got out to go through the two passport control points, first out of Argentina and then into Chile, which took about forty five minutes.  After that we sat in the bus for another forty five minutes doing nothing and going nowhere.

Then the bus drove about fifty metres and we all got off again for the customs control.  they took our customs declaration forms from us and then we had to wait at tables with our hand luggage while they took all of the bags off the back of bus and put it through a scanner before it could be reloaded. Then we all had to put our hand luggage through the scanner too. That all took another thirty minutes.

So three hours after our arrival, at just after 4:30am, we finally left the border. 

It wouldn't even be quite so bad if there was an obvious queue of people going through in front of you, or if there weren't many staff on duty, but neither is the case.  You have a few people ahead of you and loads of staff apparently doing nothing, but nobody goes anywhere for ages.

It isn't even that the actual process takes so much longer at these borders than at the others, or that they seem to be that much more stringent.  It is just all of the waiting.  Why? Why make everybody wait so long, when there doesn't seem to be any reason to? Do they just do it to exercise power and wind people up?

And we have another three more border crossings to do between the two countries over the next few months.  Aaaarrgghhhh!!!

OK, sorry, rant over!

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