Rancagua, Osorno and Puerto Montt
Thu Feb 7th 11:30 pm – Fri 10 am
Our 11:00 pm departure never occurred. Bad traffic in Santiago was stalling the bus for a few ‘minutes’. Minutes turn to hours and our hopes started to sink once more. We saw at least 20 different buses pulled into the station, sharply picking up fellow passengers and moved on.
Midnight came. It was officially Friday. By 3:00 pm this day we had to be at the airport and by 6:00 pm we were expected in Punta Arenas. Our energy was low. After all, it was been 48 hrs of mishaps, of broken cars, lost buses and eternal wait. Thirty minutes later, hope came with the sight of a Bus Del Norte machine. We rushed into the loading zone with all our belongings. Our load lighter since the bike box was already in Osorno waiting for us.
As the luggage compartment doors open, we quickly understood their hesitation to take the bike box in this trip. The space was really limited. I couldn’t comprehend how we were going to fit all our gigantic bags in the space left. The bus operator could not comprehend either. Bags were re-positioned shuffled and stacked. Space was commissioned from different compartments and one bag made it into the driver’s pit. We were all aboard, welcomed with a snack and a seat to rest and sleep.
Morning came quick as the bus stopped in different stations. Passengers came in and out the bus through the whole trip. But mainly down giving us hope for free space for our beloved triangular double-bike box. As soon as the bus stopped in Osorno, Sam and I jumped out and headed to the office. We just had to pick up the bike box and take it into the bus. The box had arrived the night before. Or so we thought.
Our bike box is very easy to spot. It is a white triangular box that resembles a gigantic piece of cheese more than a bike box. From the first sight into the office we knew it was not there. Fear, frustration and hopelessness flew through my entire body. We were still racing the clock to the airport and yet another mishap presented itself to us. Gear check for the Race was tomorrow. We had already missed skills test and we couldn’t check our gear without two bikes!
Once more we told our story: the car purchase, the broken car, the lost bus tickets, the race. People felt empathy and became more willing to help. At one point everyone in the office was searching for the box, including the driver. Phone calls were made, supervisors were called upon stage while we gazed through the glass wall and hope for a glance of good luck.
Finally word came from the driver: ‘We cannot wait any longer. The bus must leave’. Desperation came followed immediately by some news. A new plan had been forged: the bike box was at Osorno but at a different terminal. It was sitting in a cargo terminal a few miles from us. Our bus could not go there or wait any longer. Our option was to send the box directly to Puerto Montt’s cargo station. The bus driver will leave us there and we just had to contact our truck pick up to change locations. After all we’ve been through in the past days, this seemed simple enough.
We re-boarded our bus and continued on our way to Puerto Montt. Our minds filled with questions: would the box make it in time? Why couldn’t they send the box directly there from the first place? Would we be able to contact our truck driver?
A few hours later we arrived to the Puerto Montt, Bus Del Norte’s cargo station. All bags were accounted for and placed on the sidewalk. I entered the office to, once more, not find the bike box.
Calls were made and we were assured the box was on its way. Since arriving to Chile most of our communication with the outside world have been possible thanks to our DeLorme inReach system. It allows us to send 160 characters messages through email without the need of an internet connection. However, all we had for the bus driver was a phone number. And even though Taz was helping us contact the truck driver, the fact that it was not possible for us to walk to the other bus station with our entire gear and bike box was lost in translation. We needed to speak to him directly.
A gentleman from the cargo station loaned us his cellphone to contact the truck driver and gave him directions to get there. As truck after truck came into the station we rushed to them to find bags of merchandise and luggage but not a single bike box.
About 45 minutes after the bus left us in Porto Montt a small truck came bearing good news. The sight of a bike box had never before brought so much happiness to three people. We had all our gear!
Our truck driver was already waiting for us and the rest of our luggage was already packed. We rushed the bike box into the back of the pick up truck and rushed to the airport.
Me: ‘How far is the airport?’
Driver: ‘I don’t really know, I’ve never been there’.
Me: ‘oh oh’.