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Published: February 15th 2013
Tango demonstration in Buenos Aires
From the previous entry: “From Nasca the road went on to Lima, where we arrived fairly early in the afternoon but had to spend a good time looking for a decent priced hotel.”
Lima proved to be the end-station for us in South America. At least as far as our traveling is concerned; not the end of our troubles though. After all the things I didn´t like about South America: the rain, the insects but above all the corruption, thieving and fault-finding, the pettiness and intolerance, topped by the sheer indifference and incompetence of forwarding personnel to get our car into a container and send it off to Durban. I´ll come back to that. But before I do, I must admit we saw interesting and beautiful things as well and we look back at fabulous experiences. To see dinosaur footprints left in the clay millions of years ago is aw-inspiring. Not to mention the waterfalls at Iguasu, the mountains of Bolivia, the flight of the kolibri (humming bird) and many other things.
And it must be said we came with inadequate camping gear. The Toyota Condor we bought second hand in South Africa, an
Shivering in the rain
able 4-wheel drive vehicle with a 3L diesel engine was filled to the rim with water tank, 2-man tent, camping chairs and -table, jerry cans and all the other gear needed for an extensive camping trip into fairly unknown territory. It was eminently suitable for camping in pleasant, dry weather. But South America is not dry, and it can be windy. Very windy. Also, we could not go to Chili for instance because camping in a tent in the Andes would be too cold. On top of that we found that most rural area´s along the roads we travelled were fenced and gated. It had not crossed our mind that in countries so vast and thinly populated it would be difficult to find a camping spot on the side of the road. We found very few managed campsites.
These and other considerations, the inability to sell our car (left hand steering wheel) for instance, resulted eventually in deciding to send our car back to South Africa and to buy “somewhere in the world” a car that would give us all we wanted: small enough to fit in a standard 20ft container but big enough to live in, powerful without
turbo charger or electronics: a Toyota troop carrier, converted into a tiny camper. A “go-anywhere-do-anything” car. We let it be known in the Forum of the Hub from Sahara-overland we were looking for this vehicle and got responses from Ghana, Australia and England.
So now it was a matter of finding a way to send our car home. After contacting various people we eventually found an agent who would take care of our problem and we were directed to a container handling zone of MLC (Mediterranean Shipping Company) half an hour by bus from the centre of Lima. And then a two-week long period started of delaying procedures and getting our car cleared for export by customs authorities.
A frustrating time where we were told day after day to come again next day for yet another examination of our belongings, the weight and nature of it etc etc.
And back we went to our hotel, much more expensive then we had budgeted for.
When eventually our car was containerized, all problems had seemingly come to an end. We had booked our flight back to South Africa and were promised the final paperwork would be delivered to
sleeping under fly-over
our hotel before we had to leave for the airport. But those papers did not arrive, and that is where we got our final kick in the butt from South America.
When we heard the container had arrived in Durban and we drove there to take delivery, we learned the car could not be released, because the final paperwork had not been received from Lima, after 5 weeks at sea!
It took almost two weeks to have the car released, and while the car stood there parked in the MLC container yard, they charged us R650/day for parking.
Needless to say, we were not amused.
In conclusion I must admit we have many good and positive memories from South America, quaint happenings and unexpected moments of joy and laughter. Christmas in Cusco with Christian/pagan frenzy never seen before anywhere was unforgettable. South America was an important experience but, as far as I´m concerned, there are better places to explore.
The next entry will cover the purchase of a new car.
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