Monday, 22 October 2007

West to Chile

The route west from Mendoza is called Alta Montaña and the scenery is right up there on the 'WOW' factor. We stayed at the rather pricey thermal spa hotel in Cacheuta for some 'R n R' and pampering last year but you can get a day pass to the public 'termas' just down the road for 15 pesos and get some Asado (Argie BBQ) for lunch.
Further west Puente del Inca is a natural stone bridge stained bright yellow by the sulphur in the water and is a good photo / snack stop off point. The locals sulphurise everything from the virgin Mary to coke cans to sell as soveniers
Among the many Andean mountains you'll see is Aconcagua which is the tallest (6959m) in both south & west hemispheres. You cross into Chile thru a tunnel under the Andes and weather permitting will see a six meter statue of Christ (Cristo Rendator) on a elevated spot.
The border crossing is a long drawn out affair with sniffer dogs roaming solo as you submit immigration forms (4 carbon copies) and another separate custom form. The dog stopped and sat beside a guy in the queue and waited until he had the attention of his trainer. Then he raised his paw and tapped the guy on the knee twice as if to say 'this bloke is a dodgy geeza!'. Quite amazing to watch! The guy was then quietly ushered off to the side, most likely for the ol' rubber glove treatment - yikes!
About 90 minutes after clearing customs (which took over an hour) we reached the small city of Los Andes where we stayed the night (not much here). This morning we're trying to figure out whether to continue to the west coast of Chile or head back east. The weather is great, sunny and 30 celcius.

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