Friday, July 21, 2017

All The Way to Argentina

A plug for our book All The Way to Argentina it chronicles our journey from Los Angeles, CA to Buenos Aires, Argentina in our 24 foot motorhome. It was January of 1978 when we left. We returned to California in February of 1979. We were: my husband, myself, four of our young sons and a family friend - also male.  We drove the Pan American Highway, such as it was through Mexico, Central America and south into South America. Traveling through all but one Central American country and all but five South American countries. In 1978 no other motorhome had crossed from Panama to South America. We drew a lot of unexpected attention as we passed through big and small towns.

The book is available in hard cover, see side bar and as e-books from Nook and Kindle. We had many adventures, funny and scary and boring during our epic journey
Just before we loaded into the motorhome.
 Customs in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Our Red, white and blue Pace Arrow motorhome.
 Seven people living inside a Living inside 24 foot motorhome on the street in Buenos Aires.
We were entering Argentina. We had crossed through the railroad tunnel into
Argentina. We were at 12,000 feet in the Andes. An excerpt from the book ... 

     We were all busy pulling on sweat shirts and jackets. Bill was fussing through a drawer.
     “What are you looking for?” I asked.
     “My Argentine passport,” he answered. “I want to enter Argentina with it.” (Up till then used his US passport.)
     “Why, what’s the difference?” I naively asked.
     “I was born here, I’m proud of it,” he replied as he pulled it out of the drawer. He put on his coat took the rest of the paperwork and our U.S. passports and stepped out into the increasingly cold air.
     I watched as he disappeared in to the beige stucco building right next to the side of the mountain, the Aduana building. Then I started to dig out more warm clothes for everyone.
    A half hour – 45 minutes – an hour passed.  What’s taking so long? ………
     As Bill entered the building he walked up to the counter where he handed the paperwork and passports to the fresh faced Milico (private) behind it. Glancing around he noticed the room was decorated army style, everything olive green. The young man took the paperwork and studied it for a minute. “Where are you from?” 
     Bill, “The U.S.
      Milico, “Where do you live there?”
      Bill, “Los Angeles, California.”
     Milico, “Why are you here?”
     Bill, “I drove all the way here with my family to show them the country where I was born.”
     Flipping through Bill’s Argentine passport the Milico asked, “Why doesn’t your Argentina passport show the countries you came through?”
     Bill, “Because I was using my U.S. passport until now. But I am proud of being from Argentina and I want to use it to come back home.”
     Hum…Milico, “The vehicle is yours? Well there is a problem. You can’t bring in a vehicle registered in another country if you are from Argentina.”
     Bill, “But I’m from the U.S.
     “No Argentine citizen is permitted to come in with a vehicle,” emphatically stated the Milico.
    “Oh, then what happens to an Argentine who drives to Chile for a visit and then comes back to Argentina? Do you take his car away?”
     Emphasizing each word a very agitated Milico said, “That is different you are from the U.S. with an Argentine passport. You can’t bring it in – it is from the US.”
     “Call your Sargento! I want to talk to him,” Bill responded. 
     The young man picked up Bill’s passports and walked over to a closed office door. He raised his hand and tentatively knocked.  When he given permission to enter he opened the door and turned to look over his shoulder and frowned at Bill, as if saying “What a pain in the ass”.  He went in and closed the door behind him. All this time several other soldiers sitting at desks behind the counter were keeping busy pretending not to listen. Now all pretense of indifference had stopped and everyone looked from Bill to the closed door waiting to see what would happen next.
     The Milico came out of the room, his shoulders back and a smile on his face. He was followed by his Sargento, an older more confident looking man, who now carried the passports. The Sargento walked over to the counter and slammed the passports down. Several of the soldiers at the desks jumped and grinned.
     Pulling himself to his full height he bluntly stated, “As an Argentine you cannot come into Argentina with a vehicle that is registered in the United States. You and your family can continue but the vehicle will stay here if you insist on using this passport.” As he said that he shook the Argentine passport under Bill’s nose.  “So you must use your U.S. passport.” he concluded.
     Bill got angry. “Don’t bullshit me, I know better. I went to the university to learn the laws of this country! You can’t threaten me. I’m an Argentine citizen and you can’t say I can’t use my passport. I want to speak to your superior, now!”
     At one of the desks a soldier quickly stood up and went through another door. He came back preceded by the Mayor (Major) in charge of the Aduana
     This smartly uniformed professional career officer went up to Bill and asked what was going on.
     Bill answered, “I‘ve come back to my country with my family after living twenty years in the United States and this gentleman (he pointed to the Sargento) says I can’t come in with my vehicle because it is registered in California.”
     The Mayor picked up the passports and looked through them, “I can see you are a citizen of the U.S. from your American passport. And you are still a citizen of Argentina. What I can do is give you a three month Tourist Visa for the vehicle and then you can extend it later in Buenos Aires.  That’s if you use your U.S. passport. If you want to use your Argentine passport then the vehicle can’t enter the country.”
     Bill blew his top. “Look I’m an Argentine citizen and that vehicle is mine. I’m going to come in to my country with it, as a proud Argentine. Or, I’m going to go outside set my Argentine passport on fire and warm my hands with it. Then I’ll come in with the U.S. passport and say to hell with the Argentine government. “
     “You can’t do that.”
     “Watch me! I’ll burn it right outside your door. Who can stop me?”
     The Sargento spoke up, “I can stop you. We have the power…” (Macho man!)
     Seeing the blunt ignorance on the face of the poor overwhelmed man, Bill replied, “What are you going to do shoot me?”
     The Mayor broke in, “Wait, wait, wait, I will call my superiors in Mendoza. I can see what you are trying to do. You want to be able to show your family how proud you are to be Argentine.” 
     “That’s right.”
     “Let me call.” And he disappeared back into his office partially closing the door behind him. Bill stayed leaning against the counter as the Mayor made his call. Without realizing what he was doing Bill reached into his pocket and took out an Eisenhower silver dollar coin and started playing with it. At the same time trying to catch what was being said on the phone. Every so often the Mayor would say “Yes Sir” and as he did he would half salute and his heels would click together. An officer to the core. 

It was a very interesting evening.


Doug and Nancy said...

As someone who proudly owns an autographed copy of this book, I can tell everyone how informative, entertaining and, at times, hysterical it was. What a great read! Also, having had the privilege of meeting Carol and Bill, it made it even more interesting as both Doug and I could "hear" them speaking in the book. Loved every page.....miss you guys!

Carol and Bill said...

Thank you!!! Miss you too.

SandyM said...

Hi Bill and Carol, page 209, chapter 15! Had to look it up to remember all the details of how Bill entered Argentina on his Argentine Passport. What fun to renew those details; thank you both for the gift of your book and sharing your memories with all of us, too.

JoeAPM said...

I too enjoyed your book very much. But after reading this excerpt, I'm afraid I'll have to read it again, just to find out what happen next. Thank you for your book and for your continued adventures!

Carol and Bill said...

Thank you to all who commented on the book. It was a labor of love.

NormSusan said...

Great book. You are both pioneers in RV travel and should have your tires imprinted on an RV Road of Fame. You are RV SUPER-STARS!!!

Wendy said...

I would love one, My friend and I are coming to Mazatalin, in Jan would you have one with you and I'd get to see you and get your book

Carol and Bill said...

We have hard copies with us most of the time. But it is also available as an ebook.

Carol and Bill said...

Thank you - hum...super star - I always just thought CRAZY!

Wendy said...

I would rather a hard copy if at all possible we booked our flights today will be there from 5th Jan to 14th Feb so see you sometime then