Once we had decided to skip the beach, we hopped in a mini-bus and headed for the border. Most of our border crossings have been interesting to say the least, but the Chilean-Argentine border was the smoothest by far. They are so smart. Both of the countries are housed in the same building. Not only that, they sit next to each other. You walk up to the window, get your exit stamp from Chile and then scoot over to the Argentine official who stamps you in. It’s a miracle! Also, much to our relief, we didn’t have to pay an entrance fee of $130 in Chile or Argentine like we did in Bolivia. Interesting thing is that you have to pay that fee if you fly into these countries but not if you enter at the border. What a relief, not having to shell out $500!
After the 7 hour ride to Mendoza, we next had to find accommodations for the night. My favorite! Actually, I’ve been much more patient with this process and more determined to come in under our room budget. So, we end up checking out 10+ lodgings before making a decision. Unfortunately, it’s high season and everything worthy is full. This arriving-without-reservations plan is no longer a good idea. After 2 hours of lugging our backpacks around and getting nothing except extremely sore backs, we settled for a not so great hostel at $15 over budget. Fifteen might not seem like a big deal but it can add up quickly.
The next day we were on a mission to find an apartment, which we did. Way over budget at $50 per night! Ackkk! Not only that, in order to get it for $50 per night, which is half price, we have to stay a month. We’re not in Bolivia anymore, my friends! We justified it like this:
- Argentina is just more expensive and we’ll have to deal with it.
- Dusty will be working so at least money will be coming in.
- We’ve been living in pretty meager accommodations lately. Maybe we can splurge.
- We can cook in the apartment, so perhaps food expenses won’t be as high.
- We can spend time enjoying the area and studying Spanish.
- Dog gone it…we’re worth it!
Despite feeling like we were budgeting failures, we are really excited about our new digs. Our apartment is pretty cool and best of all, new. Granite counters, nicely updated tiled bathroom and a fully windowed wall to watch the people go by.
So far, we haven’t gotten out much except to buy groceries, sign up for Spanish classes and for the spa in the Sheraton across the street. Yes, spa! We have access to a pool, hot tub, sauna, sun deck, snacks and workout room. We’re taking this splurging thing very seriously. It looks like we really will need that workout room, too. Two of our first three meals consisted of filet mignons and wine. Easy to do when both the filet and the bottle of wine cost $1.50 each. We could get used to this!