Riding into Chile


We ride the last few miles of Bolivia, maybe 5 or so, on an actual highway.  It’s a dusty one and I’m coughing and sneezing as we pull up to the border. My buff has been getting extra workouts the past couple of days and is loaded with dust.

It’s nearly 4:30 Bolivian time and we want to cross into Chile tonight if possible. There isn’t much on this side of the border, so it doesn’t look like there’s much need to linger.  We park and head for the Migracion office.

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We are always more prepared when crossing borders than we are today.  We have empty fuel tanks, no idea of the exchange rate, no place to get Chilean money….

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But we don’t see anything on this side that will help any of those issues, so we take a chance and choose to cross, even though it’s late in the day on a Friday.

Migracion stamps us out and has us each pay 15 Bolivianos as an exit fee.  I had expected to pay more as an American but am grateful that’s all he charges me. Then we walk over to the Aduana and turn in my vehicle permit.  That’s it, we are no officially out of Bolivia.

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We ride through the barrier and into No Man’s Land for a few miles as we cross to the Chilean side and the small town of Ollague.

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Little do we know that it’s an hour later in Chile (which is weird to me since we had been riding west into a later time zone) and that the border is that much closer to closing today.  But thankfully we have plenty of time. We park and go into the Migracion office where we have to complete a tourist card form, twice since the carbonless forms didn’t work.

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The man working here is watching tv, and isn’t the friendliest guy…Brian thinks he’s grumpy cuz we probably woke him up from his nap or took him away from a futbol game. It makes me giggle when the man’s only word to us after processing is “adios” as in get out of my office.

So we head over to the Aduana and start the process of getting bikes into Chile. We still don’t know that there’s been a time change and it’s actually after 6pm on Friday night.

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There are 3 people working even at this hour and they are nice, relaxed and helpful. We complete a single page form and then have our bikes inspected, including all luggage.  They want to be sure we aren’t bringing in any fruits or vegetables. It doesn’t take long and I get to pet the stray dogs while we wait.  They say there is a hostel in town….woohoo!  Maybe we won’t be camping in the sand after all.  I would have been happy with a big bottle of water, and that we will score in a bit at a tienda.

We ride off looking for it and find one but the hostel is full.  This is a tiny town with more railroad crossings than residents, but there happens to be another hostel in town according to the woman at the full hostel.  We ride around the few blocks of town twice and finally find a place that looks like a hostel.  There’s no sign but this is the Atahualpi and they have a room.  And after some discussion they will take all the money they think we have left for a room and dinner for two and breakfast for two tomorrow morning. Talk about lucky.

We take hot showers and settle into deep sleeps on actual beds….what a treat.  And when we find more Bolivianos stashed in clothes we ask about buying gas.  There is no fuel station in town but we can score some fuel from a gas can in the morning before we go, for the smokin’ deal of $12 USD per gallon.  That’s a new record for me, but as it turns out I need it in order to make it to the next bigger town, Calama, where we hope to get money and fuel and maybe even internet.

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