Miguel, our Uyuni tour guide, stopped the Landcruiser at the Chilean/Bolivian border crossing. Strange, because there was the Bolivian stamp-out office, but the Chilean entrance wasn't anywhere in sight...There was a sign though, welcoming us to Chile. An easy stamp out, cost nothing, and we were on our way, Danica, Juan and I. Juan's passport was stolen in Cochabamba, along with some other things, and he was a little stressed about crossing the border without it...Luckily he had his Colombian ID card, and they gave him no trouble at the crossing.
So, as the van full of tourists drove off, we were already inside Chile without 'legally' being there. After about 5 minutes on the dirt road, we suddenly felt the major difference in Chile...The van pulled onto a brand new highway, with speed limit signs and margins in the road...Wow, we hadn't seen anything like that in a long time, perhaps since Ecuador. We drove down the mountain, losing about 2000 meters in altitude behind us, and my body felt like it was decompressing, for we had spent the last 2 months at high altitude, from the mountains of Peru, to the height that is most of Bolivia. We were heading to San Pedro de Atacama, our first Chilean stop, and where the actualy border office is.
As we pulled into the border office, I literally felt like I was back home for a second...There were border guards searching peoples bags, and an office with a conveyor belt and x-ray for everybody's luggage. Not once on this entire trip have we seen that! Despite the high security, everyone made it through without hassle, including our friend Juan, with only his Colombian ID card, and no passport... Bienvenidos a Chile!