Puerto Montt, Chile
Fri Feb 8th | 3:00 pm
The simple sight of the airport brought a sense of peace to our minds. But we knew our ‘fight’ to get to Punta Arenas was not over yet. We still had to – somehow – check all our 550 lbs of gear into a domestic flight. I headed to the check-in counter and asked how much weight each passenger was allowed to bring. 20 kilos for checked bags and 5 for carry-ons. Any excess would incur in a charge of 2,000 CHP per kilo extra!
We were way out of luck!!! We scrambled and shuffle our gear to make 3 bags in the required weight limit. We thought we will have to spend our life savings (and credit!) to take our gear to Punta. We started to put on all the clothing that we could. Sam even wanted to walk in with our drysuits on! I was sure that would land us straight into Carabineros hands and cavity searches. So we opted out of it.
We ‘just’ had a total of:
- 15 pairs of pants (including cycling shorts!)
- 7 shirts
- 4 pairs of socks
- 3 pair of bike shoes (the heaviest shoes we had)
- 1 pair of gloves
Meanwhile a brilliant idea was formed: let’s ask if they do cargo shipments! As we entered the airport I remembered seeing a cargo area. Sam mentioned it again so I ran in that direction.
Running with 5 lbs of extra clothing was a mission on its own. It was hot, heavy and uncomfortable. I felt the instant heat wave generate and the dehydration of the past days kicking in. The cargo office gave me the thumbs up and I headed back to check-in for our flight and bring the remaining luggage and the bike box to the cargo.
We managed to check-in with a few kilos overweight. Thankfully our carry-ons were not weighed since some were probably pushing 30 kilos. Tom stayed with our carry-ons while Sam and I took one bag and the bike box to the cargo area.
The cargo office was about 700 meters away. Sam and I were hot with all our clothing and way too tight! We felt what an overweight and inflexible person would feel. Now we will be much more emphatic towards them. The bike and bag will leave in the same airplane as we but it will cost us a fraction of the price! It only cost us 43,000 CHP! Cheaper than sending the bike box in an American airport. Finally some success for Team Four Continents!!!
Back in the airport the only obstacle between us and the plane was yet another security checkpoint. We were trying to act like our carry-ons were light. But boy! They sure were not! My bag and Tom’s went by unnoticed but security stopped Sam dead on his track.
Oh no! The race food! The climbing gear! The equipment! The excess weight! What would it be?! A 4 inch wrench! That we bought for car repairs and saved for bike box work. Whatever! Keep it! Dropped it next to the slingshot at the impound box! It was the most amusing non-dramatic event of the entire trip!
We were free! Just one more flight to go. With lots of relief we saw all our bags and bike box being loaded into the plane. The flight was 30 minutes late. We couldn’t really care much. We sat on the second row of our plane and rested.
No further calamities affected our trip. But we must have been really smelly since the flight attendant kept spraying some sort of air freshener whenever she walked by us! If only she knew all the adventures and obstacles we had to surpass the get there.
Once in Punta Arenas our usual unusualness created a big commotion. While waiting for our baggage we started undressing. We shed layers and layers of clothing to the amusement of fellow passengers and other racers.
At the airport we were greeted by our friend Rodrigo. His truck was big enough for us and all our gear. By now, we have become moving experts so it only took us a few minutes to be ready to leave. He drove us to Hostal Victoria our new home for the days preceding the race. Taz was expecting us. Finally, after a week of travel, mishaps and adventures Team Four Continents was together.