Sunday, August 25, 2013

A big change in plans.

Leaving Pueblo de Mallku, we continued on Chile 11 towards Putre when we heard a slight problem with the RV. The road is very steep and after camping at over 10,200 feet (2,300 meters) we started another steady climb quickly. Then, we heard the transmission starting to slip again. As regular readers know, we have already been stranded for 5 days in the Andes in Argentina when our transmission went out and it took us almost 6 months to ship another from the States. So having experienced that adventure before, we do not want a repeat. We pull over at a small gravel area and Tom goes underneath to check the transmission system. The motorhome is on a Ford E350 chassis and it is a lot of weight for the V8 engine to pull, particularly on these steep grades. Although he finds nothing wrong, no leaks or smells or extreme heat as he gets back in, we chat. For 5 minutes and come to a decision. It isn’t worth risking a break-down to continue to Bolivia and we scrap the plan and come up with a new one. We will go back to Arica and cross the border into Peru. From there, we will figure out another route into Bolivia, which may involve leaving the motorhome somewhere and renting another vehicle. We do want to see Bolivia and we definitely want to stay on Lake Titicaca and also visit Regina and Mimi in Cochabamba. As we make the now steep descent into Arica, we talk over our new route and schedule. We have only glanced at the map of Peru for the southern section so right now don’t have any ideas as to what we will find but from experience something always shows up. Crossing the border turned into a slight ordeal because of Winston. Peru has recently changed its law regarding pets entering from Chile, only Chile. No-one at the Chilean border informed us and we were stamped and checked out no problem. The Peru building is a short drive away and we quickly clear immigration. Then declaring Winston to the Senesa officials they told us about the new law. They said we needed to go back to the Chilean building and obtain an exportation certificate from there. I asked to see the head of SENESA and after handing my passport over to a guard, was given a visitors tag and taken up to the second floor to his office. He studied all my paperwork which is considerable and said “No, this is our new law and you need to drive back to the Chilean building and get the permit”. We drive back and while Tom and Winston stay outside of Chilean territory, in what is termed “no-man’s land”, I walk back with our paperwork. Again I am told by Aduana that I need nothing more and to go. I argue and insist on seeing a SAG (agriculture control) official. Sure enough SAG told me that I did indeed need a certificate but they didn’t issue them. We should have had him inspected by a federal vet in Arica who would have issued a health certificate and an importation permit for Peru. I told them we had already been stamped out of Chile and gone through immigration in Peru. To which they responded that we would need to exit Peru and re-enter Chile and return to Arica unless we could somehow get the Peruvians to allow Winston to enter without it. I walked back and explained the problem to Tom and we drove back to the Peru side. I went back to the same area and after surrendering my passport to a guard again, who now knew me and led me back to the office and the head of SENESA. I told him the border did not issue the permit. I told him that we would need to leave Peru and re-enter Chile to go to Arica. I told him we have passed many borders and have not had a problem. I pleaded and all the time shuffled the paperwork in front of him. I sat, he sat. Another official came in and they chatted. Maybe they could make an exception since he was actually an American dog and not Chilean. We were only transiting through Peru. I could sense them starting to relent and pushed my case further. In the end, they agreed to let us in with Winston and put that ever-important stamp on our paperwork. Both Tom and I are always amazed at these laws about pets. I understand needing copies of all vaccinations and paperwork stating ownership and responsibility but in all these countries there are so many dogs, strays wandering around that are infected with God knows what, that to attempt to control the issue by not allowing animals which are obviously pets, especially in our case. We have had Winston travelling with us now for over three years, he is our pet and when we leave a country, he will accompany us. But now, all our paperwork is in order and no money changed hands. We offered to pay for the cost of the certificate, should we have had to return to Arica but they declined. They did however accept with much interest, San Jose Fire Dept. pins that we carry from Tom’s service with the dept and we were just grateful that we did not have to go through the hassle of going back to Chile. After a vehicle inspection, in which all of our fruits and veggies were confiscated, not much – a few carrots, one tomato and some garlic – we were on our way. Leaving the main road of Peru Route 1, we decided to go over to the coast and find a beach town to park for the night and where we can consider our route and options. What a day. From thinking we would go to Bolivia, we are now in Peru. When we started the trip, we knew that remaining flexible to changing situations was a big key and today is a prime example. We will figure something out and after that small problem in the morning; the motorhome ran like a champ. Go figure.

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