Travel Post

Success through Failure: The Visa Run

The phone rings on Tuesday morning at the crack of 8:30…who is calling me this early? Humans shouldn’t be awake yet! (We Karlssons are more night owls than early birds)

Woman on phone: Sarah where are you?

Me: Who is this?

Woman: You are on the bus to Argentina?

Me (confused, not sure if she is speaking English or if my brain just really understands Spanish when I’m sleep deprived):  No I’m in Castro, Argentina is tomorrow……

I go check the tickets. Who is this lady? I just booked these, obviously I know which day I’m supposed t—- OH NO NO NO! WE TOTALLY MISSED BOTH OUR BUSES!!!

Me: various expletives.

So that happened. To be clear I wasn’t swearing at the nice lady!  I don’t know who she was or if she was with the bus company or what. Whoever she was, THANK YOU STRANGER!

I don’t know what happened,  I just had it in my head that we were leaving on Tuesday the 24th…all my reminders were for Tuesday and I even booked our hotel for Tuesday night (which turned out to be a blessing ha!).

I busted down to the bus station again and re-bought our tickets to Puerto Montt. The ticket lady said there weren’t any available seats to Argentina but I could try another company in P.Montt when we got there. Ok, no big deal, it will all work out. Just breathe!

Well, we made it to Puerto Montt and had a lovely steak dinner at El Fogon de Pepe (excellent service, delicious food btw. Victor if you are reading this Thank You!). The next day we woke up early to try to get on the 8:30am bus.

WE GOT THE LAST TWO TICKETS!!!  We literally had one minute to get on the bus after we got them. We abandoned Villa la Angostura and went for San Carlos de Bariloche via El Paso Cardenal Samore.

The drive from Puerto Montt to Bariloche, Argentina is GORGEOUS!! Unfortunately, the camera on my phone has a sick sense of humor. We drove through these amazing landscapes with huge, majestic trees towering over the forest floor with volcanoes in the background and this is what I got…


I have about half a million of these terrible blurry from-the-bus window shots. They just do NOT do justice to how pretty it was. I loved being in the mountains again!

Now we get to the part which had me losing sleep prior to our trip. The Reciprocity Fee…If you missed my last post (which you can read here), I was stressed I’d have to pay another $160USD fee because the name on my passport changed after I got married. The bus attendant who checked our passports when we got on made a big deal that we had to get off at one of the stops, find wifi, pay for the reciprocity fee online, find a printer and print off the receipt. In my preparation for this trip, I didn’t find much supporting evidence for this specific problem. But I did have an email from a tourist company in Argentina stating I could take my old and new passports and they’d let me through without an additional fee.

I just kept saying, “Yo pago ya.” I think this translates to “I pay already.” I sound like Tarzan (I don’t know how to speak Spanish in past tense yet)…I pay, I not pay again….haha. After about 20 min of him on the phone, he came back and gave us the thumbs up. WHEW!

We were in the two very back seats, right next to the bathroom, but this attendant kept calling us to the front of the line. I got up to the immigration lady and had ZERO PROBLEMS!!!! What a relief!!

So, in summary…if you have recently changed the name on your passport and have already paid your reciprocity fee to enter Argentina, you can bring your old passport that has your receipt attached and they will let you in without having to pay again. (This info is current as of November 25, 2015)

We arrived back home in Castro late on Thanksgiving night. I couldn’t be more thankful that this trip went so well, despite missing a few buses!

Next up is the move to our new house and beginning life with our German Shepherd puppy, Bruno!






2 thoughts on “Success through Failure: The Visa Run

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