I MADE IT

Day one of the adventure in Santiago

THE ADVENTURE BEGINS

After a long flight and countless goodbyes with family and friends, I arrive in Santiago, the bustling capital of Chile. Normally, the snow-capped mountains of the Andes shadow the vast city of 5million inhabitants, however today they are nowhere to be seen, hidden by dense smog. Initially, I thought despairingly that it might be urban pollution. However I was later told of the horrendous fires that have ravaged the rural regions surrounding Santiago. Both the city, and the country, were choking on smoke.

 

 

I grab my bags, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 – I have far too much stuff – and make my way to the bus that will ferry me to the hostel. Upon arrival I am met by the owner, Christiano, and welcomed into the old, dishevelled building that smells of oil and grease. Hostel Casa Matte is a biker hostel and I immediately feel at home. There are around 20 creaking bunks spread over five rooms and in the rear, a huge garage sheltering around 10 motorcycles, all in varying states of disrepair. Most appear to have suffered heavily over the many miles of tarmac, dirt and mud they have endured.

I stayed in Santiago for five days, wandering the city, indulging in the ‘caloric-heavy’ local cuisine and doing some final preparation (sim cards, Third Party insurance, photocopying documents etc).

New friends at 'Jonny Moto' mechanics

Picking up my bike at the airport

Fellow riders tweak their bikes at our hostel

Flying in to Santiago

On day three, my bike arrived. I traveled out to the airport by bus again, this time with my helmet, jacket, boots and 5L of gasoline – the bike had to be drained of all fluid in order to fly. Once there, I spent 6 hours sorting out the paperwork for customs. Everybody was lovely - Chileans seem so kind - yet nothing happens quickly here. You wait in one line to get a ticket that tells you which of the next lines to join. This continues on until you finally reach a person who hands you a form and then gestures towards another line – much like a treasure hunt, collecting all the pieces you needed unlock the chest. Finally, I was ushered into the vast cargo bay to find my bike strapped to a pallet. It had made it! Relief.

Riding out of the airport on my bike that day was one of the greatest feelings I have ever had. I couldn’t believe that I had actually pulled this off. I had shipped, imported and cleared my bike through customs. It was here, with me, being ridden on the right side of the road in Chile. Now the adventure can truly begin!

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