Santiago


Feeling pleased with having much of this legwork out of the way, we left early on Monday morning for San Antonio. The early start info turned out to be valuable. We had the bus driver drop us off almost directly in front of the Aduana(customs office). They directed us to the SAMM warehouse that was indicated on the paid freight bill (with its half-dozen rubber stamps) that was given to us by the freight agent. We were told it was just a few blocks down and that we needed to present our documents there and get a receipt from them and then to return to the Aduana. A gentleman right outside informed us that it was more like 9 blocks and helped us get a cab--making sure the driver knew where it was. He also advised us to ask for Rodrigo when we returned to the Aduana office. An hour later we were back at the Aduana with the proper paper (and more rubber stamps), only to find out that there was a separate Aduana office inside the port for temporary motor vehicle imports. The woman at the counter must of sensed our frustration so she made a few calls, and we were directed to a gate about a block away where another functionary summoned someone to chauffeur us in to the proper office.
We presented our documents, and after about an hour-and-a-half of clacking away on an ancient typewriter the young lady produced our temporary titles (more stamps). She said there was only one small problem, that she needed the VIN numbers off the frames and that the bikes were still in the crates. I offered to uncrate them myself, but she told me that that wasn't allowed. She called the warehouse and told me they would be uncrated by 1:00. Around 1:30, she came in to tell us that the men had gone to lunch, and suggested that we do the same, and to return at 3:30. When we returned we ended up waiting until after 4:00 for her to return. We were told that someone was on the way to pick us up to take us to the warehouse. When we did finally get to where the crates were it was after 5:00, and we saw that the plywood on one of the crates had been covered by a new sheet of heavy course chipboard. When we removed it we could see why. There had been a hole punched in the original plywood. Its hard to say how or why this happened, but everyone there insisted it happened at the point of origin, although the wood looked suspiciously like what was being used at the Chilean port. At any rate the damage to the one bike was slight and strictly cosmetic, and certainly not worth the time of sorting out a claim. By 6:00 we were ready to roll.
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