Our first attempt to pick up the cars from the San Antonio port turned into the usual paperwork drama with disagreement between Australian and Chilean customs agents about what documents were required. Things were looking bleak when the Chilean customs boss said he would only accept an original document mailed from Australia before the cars could be released but Ignacio, our Chilean agent came to the rescue and produced an acceptable alternative after a 3 hour round trip back to his office in Santiago. By this time it was too late to process the cars so we came back first thing Thursday and by lunchtime were allowed into the warehouse to check the cars. Most cars started without problems although one of the cars was missing a UHF radio. Ours had been unscrewed and was lying on the floor with all the cables still connected so we can only assume someone had been disturbed in the act. A short wait for siesta to finish and gates re-opened and we were off for the drive to our hotel in Valparaiso.
The hotel is in Vina del Mar, just along the beach from the centre of Valparaiso. Originally a vineyard, it became the place to live after the 1906 earthquake which just about destroyed Valparaiso. We learnt that Valparaiso, sometimes known as ‘little San Francisco’, shares many features with its US sister city apart from both being flattened by the same earthquake. Both have many beautiful timber buildings and in recent times Valparaiso has been designated a UNESCO world heritage site and become a magnet for the arts.
Today is a rest day so the hotel garage has become an MG workshop as everyone puts in their final preparation for the driving trip which starts tomorrow. The cars created plenty of interest when we arrived yesterday so this might be setting a pattern for the next weeks.