I woke, packed the bike, and was off. I had heard the road to Salta was a nice paved road, so my main concerns were firstly to get my permission to leave Chile, and I was also slightly worried about the cold weather in the mountains which are 5000m above sea level in some points. I had reluctantly splashed out on some expensive, horribly overbranded, yet comfortable warm gloves and head wear just incase it was as cold as people said it may be.
The border control to leave Chile is actually in San Pedro, right near my friends house which was perfect. The border for Argentina was another 200km's further. At least I knew if I was to have any border problems, it would be at the Chilean border in San Pedro, and I could then work out what to do from there. I was so extremely excited and happy when after a few white lies 'yes sir, I am living in Santiago and I will be starting work soon, I am bringing the bike straight back to Chile in a week' when I was stamped out of Chile and ready to go!
I started my ride from Chile, and was feeling amazing as I was peering towards the approaching mountains as they neared. One hour later, and I was entering once again, into the incredible Andes. I came across a section of bad road, and thought to myself that it would be fine - 10, 20, 30k's at the most, as this was usually the case, but I was wrong. 200k's averaging about 50 km's an hour, and riding on a road definitely not designed for a chopper. Constantly stopping in the freezing windy mountains trying to organise the gear on the back of the bike which was being upset by the bumpy road was making me extremely uneasy.
Hours of riding, rarely seeing another car, and certainly not any other people riding this road on a chopper, and I arrived to another Chilean police checkpoint. By this time, I was starting to get fairly concerned, as it was very cold, very windy, and the police checkpoint was empty. After banging on doors and windows with no response. I decided to ride on.
I was happy when I saw the sign for the Argentinan border (11k's). I arrived, freezing, even with all my layers and warm gloves on. I had heard stories of the borders being shut at times, and as I neared, it appeared dark and closed. Thoughts ran through my head of what I would do if it was closed. I was almost out of petrol, and the nights in the mountains were apparently minus 15-20 degrees. I figured that if it was closed, I'd have no option but to try and break in, get warm for the night and pay whatever the consequences may be.
It was a great relief when the border police answered to my frantic banging on the door. After taking their advice of where to ride for a petrol restock, and which town it would be safest and most comfortable to ride to before the cold set in, I was stamped into, and ready to ride on in to Argentina.
Just as I was preparing to leave the border, the head border patrol man decided to have a close look at the papers. I could not believe what he found. He realized that the Chassis number on the bike, and the number on the papers, somehow had one letter different from one another. They would not let me pass.
I was in disbelief, a stupid mistake from the Chilean Vehicle Registry, which had already caused me so much grief.
I was told to ride back to where I came from, to which I responded by insisting that there was no way I was riding back now and that they knew it was too dangerous. It was now five in the afternoon, cold was starting to set in, and I was almost out of petrol. They said I may stay with them at the border, and showed me to a little room with a couple of mattresses stacked up against the wall. After putting my bag in my 'to be bedroom', I joined them in their tv room, where they kindly shared with me their coffee and bread. After this, they found me petrol, and helped me fill up my tank and spare container, so I was ready and able to head back first thing in the morning.
Back in the TV room, I got quite a surprise as the TV was suddenly turned off, and their kindness and generosity turned into an interrogation as the men surrounded me and questioned me hard, suggesting that due to the circumstances of the papers being wrong and the fact that I was traveling solo, that I must be trafficking drugs. Of course I told them no, however they proceeded to search all my things, including making a very exhausted me pull apart my bike for them whilst they checked every part of it thoroughly.
The only things that slightly concerned me through this whole process were
Had someone planted something in my stuff (thankfully this was not the case)
When they found my police report I had lodged for insurance to claim on my lost tent, to which I may have added a few extra items. They gave me a very funny look as they scrolled through the list of items picking up each one that had not actually been lost.
After this episode was over, I packed my bag, got the bike ready to go, and decided that I would spend the rest of the evening alone in the room rather than hanging out with the police who had just, what I felt, violated me.
And no, there was no rubber glove.