After our mammoth journey we arrived into Santiago feeling jaded and dirty but were comforted by the familiarity of the city and the hostel. The only room available at our hostel was the expensive pool house, so we made the most and enjoyed our piece of deserved luxury!
We spent most of the weekend lying by the pool, taking in the sun and catching up on sleep. We also met Sean, my cousin at his residence only two blocks away from where we were staying. We enjoyed a lovely lunch with him and heard about his life as a priest here in Chile.
Early Monday morning we headed directly for the NZ Embassy located across the city. As we approached we saw the welcoming NZ flag flapping in the wind. The embassy staff were extremely helpful and sympathetic making the whole process very pleasant. We returned later that afternoon to receive our Emergency Passport (and met the Ambassador) which allows us to enter NZ. We were then advised that we required a Visa to enter Argentina as they did not accept the Emergency Passport.
Early Tuesday morning we visited the Argentinean Embassy to be informed of the massive rigmarole to obtain the Visa. Bank statements, statutory declaration, forms, NZ Embassy letter and photos were all required before the Visa could be processed. And all we want is some decent steak!
Leaving the Embassy at around 10.30 am that morning we proceeded to race around the city fulfilling our obligations. It felt like we were in the Amazing Race as we arrived at the Embassy doors at 1.05 pm, 5 minutes after they closed. Thankfully our English-speaking assistant saw our red faces and documents in hand that she took us in and said that everything looked in order. The Visa itself took 72 hours to process so we had done all we could and would now wait for the phone call.
On Wednesday we visited a very large sports mall to replace some of the gear that had been stolen and to prepare for a trek that we would be doing in Patagonia. This turned into an all day affair as the mall was massive and was located a long way out of the city.
Thursday we picked up our completed visas and celebrated that afternoon with champagne by the pool. One positive to this experience is that we have explored a lot more of Santiago and have seen how beautiful this city really is. The visit has allowed us to repack our bags for our last 5 weeks and leave more stuff at the hostel for our return around 22 March.
Friday evening we board a bus heading southwards. We intend to explore both the Chile and Argentine Patagonia on a tight two week time frame.