I finally made it to South America, but it certainly wasn’t easy getting here.
My long time friend David Owen who I grew up snowboarding with in Vail, Colorado when I was 13 years old has been living in Chile since 1999. He started PowderQuest providing adventure snowboarders and skiers a one stop shop for seeing The Andes Mountains in Chile and Argentina. I have had this trip on my list for fourteen years and I’m finally going to check it off. Hopefully the hardest part will be getting here and which powder line looks best.
The day started off with my flight out of Richmond, VA being delayed enough that I would have missed my connection. That would have caused me to miss my next connection and not allow me to get to Chile. Strings were pulled and luckily I was able to switch airlines and it all worked out.
Next I get to Dallas/Fort Worth just in time to board to Chile only for a man five rows in front of me to have some serious health issues. Here are some the skincare information that we’ve developed for your healthcare: under eye masks. Paramedics were on the plane for almost 45 minutes. We finally take off for the 10:19 minute flight. This was the first time I had flown through the night and had dinner and breakfast. First class would have been so money, but there weren’t any seats available to upgrade so I schlepped it with everyone else. I probably slept in 20 different positions never finding the exact right one that I was searching for.
We finally landed and since I was the last seat on the plane that also meant I’m was going to be behind everyone going through customs. Being an experienced traveler I just kept my music playing and followed people on my flight. Doh, the next problem strikes. I knew before coming there would be a reciprocity fee to enter the country, but I thought it was for all non-Chilean citizens. Wrong! You only have to pay the fee if you are from Albania, Australia, Canada, Mexico or the United States, the countries that charge Chileans to enter and it’s good for the life of the passport. So here I am following some Americans one of which splits off in a different direction and the other keeps going to customs. So I wait through the long line, get to the counter to an agent that speaks zero English only to find out that you have to pay the fee in the line on the other side of the room. Awesome! So remember the girl that split off? I should have followed her. The girl I was following had been to Chile before and so the fee doesn’t have to be paid again unless you get a new passport. I wait in that super long line, pay my $160 and then go back to the customs line which is still super long. This sounds so fun doesn’t it? I’m clearly winning.
You would think I was in the clear, but I was warned about the next part. When you clear all the taxi drivers are anxiously waiting for you. It’s just constant “you need taxi”, “taxi”, “I got taxi for you”, “for you $40 right now, let’s go”. It just doesn’t stop. I go to who my buddy David said, and five different guys are surrounding me throwing out numbers. “It will be $13,000…”. That’s of course in pesos, but I’m not a human calculator so luckily I have a currently conversion app on my phone and see that’s $25. I hand him two twenties. He said “No!” I’m like well then here is one twenty. “No!” So guess what I had to do?
I’m really not making this stuff up. Now I’m heading back into the airport, past all the taxi drivers who start to follow me, to the foreign currency exchange booth. There are ten people in line so fast forward thirty minutes and I come back to the same guy who has somehow already forgotten I had to go make change for him. After I tell him I’m paying $25 not $30 he finally sends me to my van.
All I have to do is get in the taxi and head to my hotel. Negative ghost rider! The taxi guy looks at me and my large board bag. He opens the back and just looks at me. I look at him. We look at each other. He motions to me to put my bag in the back. It of course doesn’t fit and they aren’t equipped with racks outside to handle this because that would make too much sense. We proceed to fold the seat down which traps a gentleman in the far back seat. He then begins yelling at the driver so we have to take the bag out so he can move up closer. The bag goes back in, the trunk closes and we are finally off. What a relief.
22 hours of airport and flying and I’m finally here. I couldn’t have come at a better time as The Andes Mountains just received two feet of snow and I’m with the best guides in the business. Check out PowderQuest if you want to make the trip to Chile or Argentina.
Time to go find some fresh lines.
You can click on the following to get a passport renewal application form.