Fun, games, and bankrupt airlines – Getting to Bolivia (Part 2)

Posted: May 29, 2012 by Ben Weber in Climbing, English, Training
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Looking over the Andes from our plane window

So where was I..? Ah yes, that’s right, we had succeeded in the challenge of leaving São Paulo…

Nice flight to Santiago – a pleasant 3hours and 40 minutes and a great view over the Andes as we approached the city. The city itself is surrounded by mountains which tower over the lower altitudes and there was this layer of cloud hovering above cloud level which made it quite picturesque. Would be nice to spend time in the city sometime, so we made a note to come back.

Off the plane and in going to La Paz we thought International Connections would be the way forward. Seemed logical enough considering this was Chile and we were off to Bolivia. No one around to ask, so we went through all the security and so on, but on the other side the flight wasn’t listed. Found some LAN staff and apparently we had to go through immigration, customs and go to the domestic terminal (the plane stopped at Iqueque, so it was domestic…). Fortunately we had enough time.

Filled out all the immigration forms (“how long are we staying in Chile?” “1 hour” / “Where are you staying in Chile?” “Santiago International Airport”) and through the customs part where they x-rayed everything, and through a ten (which turned to be twenty) minute walk (quite close, but we had not been really convinced about exactly where we needed to go) to the domestic part. More x-ray machines; laptop out of the bag… and Natalia realised that her thermos (which we really do need for water as it is insulated for the colder weather on the mountains) had been left behind – at the customs place. So getting to our gate, we asked around and we just had to go back to speak with them.

Back past the x-ray machines… back along the walk to the international arrivals section… and finding a customs security officer to speak with to let us through. 10 minutes ringing the door and one appeared – they let me go through (only one of us) and I walked back to the x-ray machine where we thought it had been left. I showed them my thermos which was identical, and the guy I spoke with recognised it and thought I had found it – it took a little while explaining in my dodgy Spanish that we had a second one which was identical. He understood and said that yes, they had got it, and took me to another office to collect it. Much to my happiness, it was there.

Illimani over the city as we descend from El Alto airport

So, back outside, meeting Natalia… back along the walk to the domestic terminal… back through the x-ray machines (laptop out the bag again)… and to the gate. Finally all set with just five minutes at immigration at Iqueque where they checked us out the country.

Arriving in La Paz at 5pm… the airport at El Alto is high.. so we just strolled along to get our bags. Nice people at the immigration; the most uncomprehensive customs bag searches ever, and a taxi ride to the hotel. Going down the mountain we had spectacular views over the lower city and also of the two main mountains we will climb – Illimani and Huayna Potosi. They look amazing, and just seeing them there made everything well worth it.

To the centre of La Paz

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