Lewis the Lion crosses the border from Argentina into Chile

Helen had her big rucksack and small rucksack packed again, only this time it was with a different smaller rucksack. The thin, fold away one she had was not proving practical for longer journeys as it wasn’t sturdy enough and had some tears in it so she had had to buy a new one whilst in Bariloche. Lewis the Lion would definitely feel more comfortable and safer in this new small rucksack as it even had a place to tie a padlock.

Lewis with his new day-pack

This particular Sunday morning Lewis the Lion and Helen had caught the local bus – el colectivo – to the bus station – el terminal de autobuses, ready to catch a coach into Chile. They were happy when they got to the coach station to bump into their friend Alessandro, a young Italian man, who they had already met in Bariloche. Alessandro also had another friend with him from Japan, Tsutomu but he told them to call him “Tom” as that was easier to say! The friends were bound for a place called Osorno which was just across the Chilean border before heading their separate ways.

However, before they boarded the coach, they were given some rather interesting customs information and some forms to fill in.

You can't take fruit and vegetables into Chile!

They were told that they had to declare any fruits, vegetables or animal products on the border otherwise they would have to pay a hefty fine. This is because Chile has a world class reputation when it comes to the quality of its fruit and vegetables as they are disease free. Lewis the Lion was a little bit worried as Helen had brought two oranges and an apple with her! Helen wasn’t worried as she knew it would be OK if she declared them and then they could be checked that they were disease free by the customs officer. She decided that the sensible thing to do was to tell the customs officer when they had their passports stamped when leaving Argentina. However, when she arrived at the customs desk, the customs officer told her that the best course of action would be to leave the fruit with him and that he would have them for his lunch!
Lewis the Lion was happier to do that rather than paying a big fine when they reached the Chilean passport controls but he wondered how many travellers supplied the customs officers with their fruit for lunch?!

Lewis sees the poster about bringing forbidden goods into Chile

After getting back on the coach and driving a short distance, they arrived at the Chilean border control where all the passengers had to get off the coach with their hand luggage. They then had to line their hand luggage up in a long line whilst they queued up to have their passports stamped for entrance to Chile.

The dog sniffs all of the hand luggage

However, the passengers were then able to watch the clever sniffer-dog at work as it walked along the line of bags, sniffing as he went. The labrador was quick at identifying bags containing offending objects as it would growl when it sniffed out something suspicious. The bag was then confiscated to one side whereby the customs officers would open them up for further inspection. The dog was right one hundred percent of the time!

The labrador at work

As the bags were opened, Lewis the Lion, noticed meats and fruit and vegetables being pulled out. Phew! He was glad Helen left the fruit on the Argentinean side!

Whilst this was going on, Lewis the Lion also noticed that all of the bigger luggage had also been emptied out from the coach and more dogs were carrying out the sniff-searches. What clever, well-trained dogs!

Crossing the border into Chile

Before long all the passengers were back on board heading through the scenic Chilean countryside: beautiful mountains covered in red and amber hues.

The mountains when crossing the border

Although not long after, they found themselves driving into the city of Osorno. This definitely felt very different from Argentina as many of the buildings were low-rise and made of slated wood and corrugated iron.

Typical buildings in Chile, near Osorno

There was a lot of graffiti and low hanging electricity cables. It felt like a rather rundown town and Lewis the Lion felt a little nervous as they arrived at the coach station.

Buildings Lewis saw from the coach window

Helen and Lewis were feeling a little bit peckish but needed to withdraw money as they didn’t have any Chilean currency with them so that they could buy food. Once they found a cashpoint, this offered another new challenge. The Chilean currency seemed to have so many zeros! (Check out Lewis’ next blog on Chilean money). However, Helen took a calculated guess and withdrew what she thought looked like a sensible amount. This allowed them to order a delicious sandwich which had a thin slice of meat, tomatoes and lots of avocado! Avocado was a fruit in plentiful supply in South America and luckily for Lewis the Lion he just loved it!

After a short stop for a hour or so, Lewis the Lion were aboard another connecting coach going to the volcanic city of Pucón where more adventures awaited them!

What’s your favourite fruit or vegetable? How do you like to eat it, e.g. Raw? Cooked? In a particular dish?

About Helen Molloy

Helen Molloy has been a Primary Learning and Teaching Consultant, leading on the introduction of Primary Languages in the City of Stoke-on-Trent for the past 5 and a half years. She is passionate about language learning and inspiring children into developing a curiosity and awareness of other people's languages and cultures.
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