In the meantime it is evening, we try to find an ATM (all ATMs are locked behind a gate in the evening) finding only ATMs of the Bank of Chile in the metro station, which charges a whopping 4% per transaction! We pull the first millions and go back home, trying to find cheaper ATMs the next day and gather as many cards as possible to scramble the cash together. Luckily it turns out we can do more than 3 transactions per day, some even up to 9, but the ATMs we use are one after the other giving us an error message after roughly 12 transactions. We thus walk around town putting error messages on various ATMs but get the cash (a stack as high as 15 cm) ready to go to the notary to buy the car…
Then the seller starts to stall.. saying his boss won’t let him leave the office today, he has an emergency shift and can only be available at 17:30, when the notary is of course closed. The notary used by the agency is also closed in the weekend, so we start looking for notaries open on Saturday so we can still get it all done and dusted. As we find one, the seller tells us he does not want to do this as he can not put the cash in the bank… because of course banks are closed on Saturday as well!! This means we have to delay our departure with 2 days in order to wait for monday. Then… another bummer – he tells us he does not want to sell to us at all anymore after all this process… AAAARRRGGHHHH… And of course it is…. FRIDAY EVENING!
Starting all over again…
Filled with frustration we send out 8 responses to advertisements online in the middle of the night, including our website and keep our fingers crossed that somebody is happy to deal with us. In the meantime we need to find another place to sleep for the upcoming 2 nights in order to wait for whatever car potential we find as without a car we can not leave the city. Luckily enough the next morning we have a response from a really nice car (granted, we have upped our budget a bit as well in a desperate attempt to get this done), and can go see it at 10am. Pablo turns out to be a great guy who is very willing to sell to us and would have been happy to take a transfer, not cash… of course ;-).
We manage to ask Alfredo the mechanic to take time out of his weekend off to check it, and he is as happy with the car as we are… this is going somewhere! We are all aligned to go to the notary on monday morning, so we seem set up for success.
Time for some more sightseeing
With a car done on our checklist (we hope) we spend the Sunday going into the city for some more sightseeing. We have not been to the old center yet, so we take an Uber into town to see the changing of the guard at the Presidential Palace. Online it says it is at 10 o’clock, but it is eerily quiet when we arrive. After asking a few people saying it is at noon, it is in the end settled that it is at 11 :-). We thus have some time on our hands so we decide to hit the central market first.
The first market is a fish market where we run into a Dutch man running a market stall and fish restaurant. Good to hear his stories and advice, especially the one about keeping your bags close and your valuables out of sight. As we cross the big river to another market and grandpa is trailing behind, we see him crossing the street yelling he is robbed. Preparing for the worst, it turns out somebody pulled his necklace from his neck (a very thin gold chain with st Christoffel on it, the patron of travelers no less) and got away with it. Thankfully nobody got hurt nor did bigger things get stolen (wallet, phones, etc) because we tucked those away of course, but we are all a bit shaken by the whole thing.
As we head back to the changing of the guards, which turns out to be a fantastic military display with all the bells and whistles you can think of, we start to find our bearings again and let go of the frustration of the rob. Next stop is Cerro Santa Lucia, a hill with a castle on top and some beautiful terraces, fountains and a viewpoint on top to overlook this part of the city. Being our anniversary, we find a relaxing lunch spot where we treat ourselves to some good coffee and sandwiches.
The leisurely stroll back to our hostel is through parks and playgrounds, with the mandatory gym machines to keep us fit. We take the last round of groceries for another home cooked meal and keep fingers and toes crossed we get the car done with only 2 days delay. Of course we finish the day with some well deserved bubbles – 12 years and counting!!
Wrapping up the car sale – Taking hours again 🙁
So we head out to the notary on Monday morning with a hop in our step and a happy attitude; today we sign the papers and off we go! We are right on time, Noam from Suzi Santiago is 5 minutes later, and after another 10 minutes our seller comes driving in with our car. We are relieved as Noam mentions sometimes sellers don’t even turn up for the sale… *PHEW*! After parking the car he gets to us to get ready for the paperwork. One little snag; he lost his personal ID when we went voting a few weeks back… Which is a document we do need for the sale! ARGHHH!!
Noam checks with the notary and they say they can only do it with the ID, not with a passport – go figure – so we hit our first wall. He will not have his ID back until end of the week (he specifically went to the registro civil in the morning to get an emergency procedure done) so we ask him if he would consider lending us the car for the rest of the week, as we really want to get out of the city after all this waiting, which he actually would consider to do. BUT first another option; a friend who is a lawyer at a notary, who may be able to get it done with the passport… As they say in Chile “it is better to have friends than money”. And so we pack ourselves into the car and drive across town to another notary where we get squeezed in for our paperwork.
The good news is that we seem to be able to make it work this way, the bad news is the whole process took us almost 5 hours instead of the 1,5 we bargained for when we set off this morning. The hop in our step is gone, but at least we are starting to get somewhere. For the second time in a few days, we ask the grandparents to pack up our stuff from the accommodation we were in, and finally get to take our new car for a drive. The rental van is also picked up, so in the end almost at the end of the day, we get to say goodbye to the city of Santiago!
Out of the city – Cajon de Maipu
Finally we hit the road… with a few things still to finalize in Santiago we take the new car and the rented van for a spin and try out the surrounding area. We drive out of the city southeast bound into the Cajon de Maipu, a canyon into the mountains only an hours drive outside of Santiago (after an hour of wrestling through Santiago traffic that is ;-)). We find a place to stay the night through iOverlander, a lovely older couple that normally does not take tent campers anymore but is happy to make an exception for our family. We set up our tent in a good half hour, which is decent for a first time, and after a good meal hit the sack early. The whole car drama clearly took a toll on our energy levels.
The next day we do not only test our camping skills but also the 4WD of our car! We drive all the way into the canyon – the grandparents have left their van behind and joined us in the car – , up a dirt road to the highest point where there are the Termas de Valle Colinas – Hot water springs in several baths where you can soak for hours. The higher up the hill you go the hotter the water gets, so we start almost at the bottom and in the course of a few hours we make our way up. All the car buying pain melts away and we especially enjoy the stunning views across the valley. There was a risk of rain, but beyond a few spats we keep it dry.
Our drive back down is very smooth, and brings us to an abandoned train tunnel you can walk through. No lights and a turn, so pitch black and somewhat scary… Our reward at the end of it is the ‘Casa de Chocolate’, a place where chocolate and ice-cream is made by hand. You guessed it: we of course took a nice big ice-cream before heading back to the campsite. It is a chilly night, but we grant ourselves the seal of approval for having a proper camping night out!
One last day of Santiago
Ok, so we were not fully done with Santiago yet, as the list of chores is not finished yet. Number 1: Getting the Annual check done, as it was overdue since November (!!). Thankfully this is one thing we have to applaud the Chileans for, as they have drive-thru testing sites. You hand in the keys and see your car roll through the different stages of the check. At the end of it all (roughly 25 minutes later), you pay 14 euros, get your keys back and a seal of approval and off you go!
Next stop is number 2; Buying a roof box for the car. With all our camping gear and the potential need for a big jerrycan filled with fuel, we need more space in the car, and the only way to do that is to go up ;-). We did our homework, so we knew what to get and the salesperson probably never sold a box this fast. Box in the campervan of the grandparents and off we go to Autoplanet for the bars to put the box on the roof and some final stock of car supplies.
Next stop is an administrative one; more paperwork at the notary. One is a document where we promise to bring the car back to Chile, another is where we give the company that helps us to buy the car permission to get our official car ownership papers once they are done – 1-2 months from now :-). For the latter we need the sale documents that are not sent yet, so again we spend a day texting, calling and begging to get things moving. In the end we do get the first document done, but the second one we will have to find a workaround…
In the meantime we did some more shopping for camping gear, brought back and picked up stuff we took by mistake or forgot in our past 2 accommodations, and we waited for another point on our list; A kitchenbox. This is a kitchen setup you put in the back of your car, which has a sink, gas stove and room for supplies. The problem is that these are normally supplied instantly, but now are not available and thus made anew for us. Promised to deliver around 4pm, they get there by 5:30 and unfortunately it is not exactly what we wanted. What a disappointment after all that waiting for it :-(. To add to the disappointment we get a parking ticket for the rental van that is parked in the street of the rental company!
Los Andes; Hotel break
It really is time to leave the city. Traffic is heavy, but we push through and end up at Los Andes in a nice hotel after 8pm. Dinner is burgers and pizzas at a restaurant around the corner, and with 2 rooms for 6 people the boys decide to have a sleepover at the grandparents… The only way is up we say! On to better times in Chile! The next morning we take our time to figure out where to go next, after a nice hearty breakfast provided by the hotel and a hot shower for all. The boys have a jump in the pool of the hotel, trying to avoid the kitten that terrorizes anybody that comes near, and by the time it is noon we are all ready to hit the road. Refreshed & Ready.
Next week: Our first proper week exploring Chile