I´m finally in Chile, well ahead of schedule. The six of us agreed to head to Valparaiso after three nights in Uspallata. Chile is about 100 miles wide so the port city wasn´t far away. Charlie and I took off before the bus riders. On the way to the border we stopped off at a viewpoint for Aconcagua, the highest mountain in South America at 6,900+ meters. It was a quick stop. We didn´t want to leave the bikes in their vulnerability and on top of that we were lazy. We walked about 100 feet for the first view we could see. In the distance Aconcagua didn´t look as grand as some of the other stuff we saw back in Peru. When you consider that the mountains surrounding us in the foreground were all 6,000 meters, though, the perspective was warped.
We hit the border by 11:00am. It was well-laid out. Argentine and Chilean immigration and customs work together, making it a one stop shop. It was still at South American border crossing, though, so it took two hours. The ride down from the mountains towards the coast revealed what we´ve heard for months. Chile is the class of South America. On the road it´s hard to tell you´re not at home. The gas stations are even better than we have. Drivers follow the speed limits; you can´t bribe the cops here.
Since then we´ve spent two nights in Valparaiso. It´s a nice coastal town with good weather and a huge art influence. There´s grafitti everywhere, but it´s tasteful, part of the city. We had a big night out Saturday. Cover charges of $10 had everyone balking. Sunday I must have walked a few miles down to the beach and back. I got lost on my way back and ended up on the wrong hill. Santiago is a series of hills leading down to the water. Cerro (mount) Concepcion is the tourist area where we´re staying.
Today Charlie and I took a cab to the recommended motorcycle shipping agent here in Santiago. Turns out it would cost around $1,500 U.S. to ship to the United States from here. I was looking forward to the opportunity to offload the bike, but not for that price. Now I´m thinking about screwing around down here through Christmas and trying again from Buenos Aires. Possibly shipping to Miami or Texas and riding home. It´s not the right time to be motorcycling the states, but weather hasn´t stopped me yet. Selling is an option too, but I really don´t feel like coordinating with another person while stranded in South America.
Whatever happens I plan to come back to a like-new bike after my mom comes down. With a new (used) shock and a full service, it should be more enjoyable than the last 1,000 miles. With my mom nearly a week away the future is getting bright down here. She´s bringing underwear, a newer pair of sneakers, and possibly a new computer to replace my currently failing hard drive. Chile is expensive so I won´t be here longer than I have to. It´s a good place to find a job, but not great for budget travel. If I do end up sticking around for a couple more months, it will be in my tent eating steak in Argentina. I have a hard time writing much down here. It´s just not as shocking and really nice. I´ve been sleeping in and eating as much as possible for about two weeks. Not much is going on, but it´s the break I needed. I don´t plan to do much in the next nine days either. Tomorrow we´re all going south a few hours to see something new before heading into Santiago for the family reunion.
Also, congratulations to Ty and Jill who announced their engagement from Ushuaia, Argentina at the bottom of the world. What an amazing highlight to a life-changing trip.