Shipping and Santiago


December 26th through the 28th, 2011

Monday morning I had a simple plan – arrange shipping for Curiosity back to Milwaukee. Looking at Horizon’s Unlimited there was only one air shipment listed out of Santiago, from LAN Cargo back in 2004. So I tried calling LAN.

And tried calling LAN.

And tried again to call LAN.

Maybe it was the post-holiday thing, but I was completely unable to get in touch with anyone in their cargo area. They seemed to want to sell me passenger tickets, which I would need eventually, but not right now. After 4 or 5 tries I started to look for other shippers.

There were a fair number, both listed on Horizons Unlimited and a quick Google. Right across the street from the hotel (sort of) was a large DHL building. Most overlanders had nothing good to say about DHL, but that was mainly about parts and when the destination was off the beaten path. So I gave them a call, cheating a little and calling the Milwaukee office so I got to speak in English (in retrospect, a system I should have used for LAN).

The Milwaukee staff was friendly, and quickly had me in touch with an English speaking local DHL employee. The quote was done in an hour or so and was surprisingly low, which should have been a clue.

There was a lot of restrictions, no gas or oil was the largest issue, since I had planned to ride the bike to where it needed to go. “No problem,” was the reply, “we will come and pick it up.” Really?

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I was wondering a little when they all showed up in the little van, but Curiosity is small (and they knew the weight already). The bike was already drained and battery disconnected, so it was a smooth operation.

At the airport (they asked me to come with, but I didn’t do anything other than take some pictures) I guess they didn’t want to lift the bike back out.

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Once the bike was unloaded they wheeled it into the warehouse, assured me it had security cameras pointed at it, confirmed they were just going to plastic wrap. I got a return trip, just to show me the plastic.

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Well, and I admitted to have left matches in one of the bags and they wanted me to take them out. Since they might explode, I guess. They also asked me to remove the disconnected battery, which I did assuming I would have to get a replacement in the USA (annoying, but it wasn’t like I could ride away), but instead it was taped inside a box and strapped to the seat, with bungie cords. Not really sure what that was supposed to accomplish, other than making it more likely to spill.

With me finally thinking I had the bike sorted out, I decided to head to downtown Santiago and see something of the city before leaving. I didn’t know the airport was actually no where near the rest of the place and the taxi ride was rather long.

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This is the Presidential Palace, where President Allende died during the 1973 coup.

I was dropped off on the Plaza de Armes (I think every town from Mexico south has one) near a monument

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and arranged for the taxi to pick me up from there several hours later.

I didn’t really have a plan, other than just to walk around and see stuff. There are several parks and monuments (Chile seems to like monuments) so I just soaked up the atmosphere.

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And of course churches

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There were several pedestrian only roads, which were generally packed with people who I guessed had off for the holiday. I walked through a park for a while before looping back towards the Plaza de Armes. I had heard good things about Santiago pizza, and had been keeping my eye out for a pizzeria, but the pizza wasn’t that good. Odd sauce, way too much cheese, perhaps my palate just isn’t set up for South American Pizzas.

One place I wanted to go, out of a certain morbid curiosity, was the National Museum. It was right off the Plaza, but I had decided to wait until later in the day to go. The building is pretty nice.

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Technically, you aren’t supposed to take pictures inside the building, just in the courtyard, so I don’t have very many.

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This last picture is of a 17th century sleeping bag. It’s all leather and just rolls up to go behind a saddle. Didn’t look that big, but I guess people used to be shorter.

This was the morbid reason I wanted to go to the museum

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President Allende’s glasses, found next to him after the coup. All the news reports stated he had committed suicide, and in a radio address a few hours earlier he had said “These are my last words, and I am sure that this sacrifice will constitute a moral less that will punish cowardice, perfidy and treason.” Sure sounds like a goodbye. Either way, Chile had some dark days ahead.

Back out in the sunshine Blue decided to climb on things.

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Say hello to my little friend.

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Then we went looking for dinner.

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(I have to be honest, the McDonalds made me feel a little nauseous), then met the taxi for the ride back to the hotel. I had gotten an email letting me know the bike, which was supposed to have flown out on Thursday (the 29th) was now more likely to fly out on the 3rd of January. The original arrival date had been Sunday the 1st, but now was “I am not sure.” Either way I had already bought my ticket and decided to trust DHL knew what they were doing.

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