USA-Argentina: Shipping Motorhome & Buenos Aires
Shipping Motorhome from Brunswick, USA to Zarate, Argentina
On March 28, 2022, we brought our Sprinter to the port as requested by the shipping company; 6 business days prior to the ship's departure.
An extremely large number of papers and certifications were required in advance.
The delivery of the vehicle was then, however, completely uncomplicated. The harbor master personally checked our vehicle, approved it for transport and drove it into to the harbor himself.
Instead of the original vehicle documents, he and the agent also accepted copies, which meant that the originals did not have to be sent to us to Argentina after the ship's departure.
Sunday April 24th: Arrival of the freighter ship with our Sprinter in Zarate, Argentina. The release of the vehicle needed good nerves and a lot of time!
In the week before the ship's arrival, we visited our agent Daniel in his office in Buenos Aires and gave him the necessary papers for the release of the vehicle in the port of Zarate.
16 years ago, on an Easter Monday, we managed without agents to get our truck Robusto through customs and out of the port in Buenos Aires in one day.
Now we had the illusion that on Monday, with an agent, we would get the vehicle out of the port in Zarate within one day on Monday with agents. Unfortunately, that was not the case.
On Monday morning early at 3a.m. we received an e-mail from Daniel that the port authorities still had to register the unloaded vehicles first, and therefore we could not meet as agreed at the customs office. The appointment was therefore postponed to Tuesday at 8 a.m. and we were the first at the counter. Everything seemed fine until the customs officer asked Daniel into his office. Reason: The bill of lading document was not issued correctly. To correct this at the freight agency and customs office cost us another 5 hours.
In the meantime it was afternoon. We still managed to pay the port fees and have the vehicle x-rayed. Since motorhomes have to be checked by a drug dog, we had bad luck. Dog and handler were not on duty any more. Therefore, we were put off until Wednesday morning after 10 o'clock.
On Wednesday, it was half past eleven when our vehicle was sniffed out by the drug dog shortly before the dogs closing time. The o.k. from the dog we got by peeing on the right rear wheel.
At 1 p.m. I drove out of the port completely relaxed. Brigitte and Daniel did the last paperwork and followed me on foot to the outer parking lot.
I almost forgot the most important thing - the vehicle is in top condition! Even tools and camping items, which we stored under the bed at the back with the risk of being stolen, arrived complete. Once again, we were lucky!
Car Rental One Way USA
We had booked our flight from Florida to Argentina for April 8th. We thought of covering the approximately 500 miles from the port of Brunswick to Miami comfortably with a rental vehicle. With our six well-filled suitcases, each weighing 32 kg for the flight to Buenos Aires, this would have required a rather larger vehicle.
After contacting three car rental companies, which hardly had any free rental vehicles, all of them refused one-way rentals. Corona is to blame! Therefor we rented a moving truck from U-Haul. This was a good solution. Enough space for our luggage, safely stored, and a well motorized tour vehicle!
Unfortunately, the experiences we had with hotels in the USA weren't that great. Daily rates were suddenly adjusted from 120 to over 400 dollars, depending on the occupancy.
USPS United States Postal Service
In the run-up to the shipment, we had to have some vehicle documents certified by the Ministry of Justice. The Ministry sent the papers back to us by regular mail = USPS. This mail cannot be tracked. After a week of waiting in vain, we were informed that the papers had probably been lost.
Under extreme time pressure, we repeated the whole exercise again. However, by UPS with express service and tracking number!
Flight from Miami to Buenos Aires with AA
For the shipment we had to empty our travel vehicle from personal belongings. As a result, we had to fly with six suitcases, around 200 kg. Airline information says extra luggage can be added and paid during online check-in. However, despite several attempts, this was not possible. At the airport we were then informed that international flights could not be checked in online. For check-in requested documents had to be submitted in advance via an app - Covid vaccination, current Covid test, international health insurance, entry form Argentina. Documents were aceppted after I submitted them 3 times, Brigitte app stayed with the same information on red. The counter clerk at the airport didn't know the company's app and asked for our documents again in original.
We showed up at the airport very early so we could check in with our luggage. We knew the plane would be packed, so we feared restrictions on the number of bags we could carry. Luckily that wasn't the case. For a very high fee all of our luggage could fly with us.
Our above-mentioned, rather bad experience in advance with AA was not changed positively by the service on our flight.
2 weeks stay in Buenos Aires
For the first few days we rented a fantastic apartment in Puerto Madero with the option to extend the rental period. On our request for rent extension, we waited in vain for an answer. Also for all our other requested Airbnb apartments we didn't receive an answer. Supply and demand!
What we didn't consider was, that the accommodations were extremely fully booked before and during the Easter week. From Good Friday, hotel prices exploded. Even despite our willingness to dig deep into our pockets, we had to change hotels three times over the Easter weekend, because even highly overpriced rooms could only be found for one night. We now know the Marriott, Hilton, Sheraton and the Alvear Palace from the inside!
For the last week in Buenos Aires we have again been able to rent a great studio on the 23rd floor in a modern building. Incredible view over BA included!
In the big city, however, one thing is essential: taking a taxi. This is adventurous, the lane is not kept as in the USA on multi-lane roads, no, there is slalom driving with the horn honking, or an additional lane is quickly created. The whole fun is extremely cheap. For us with well-exchanged Swiss Francs anyway. The cab clock is basically always activated at the start with a basic fee of 60 centimes. For a ride of about 20 minutes, you pay about 5.00 Swiss Francs, tip included!
With a long-haired, over 50-year-old Bolivian taxi driver who has been driving in the city for 5 years, we had a great chat in his taxi for half an hour and laughed a lot. He was pleased that we had traveled to his home country and knew a lot about various places.
As we drove past thousands of unemployed people protesting, he said these people believed that the state is to blame for their unemployment and must of course pay for their costs. He proudly explained, that he drives his taxi for 11 hours a day and to be able to support his family himself.
We haven't been here long enough to be able to judge seriously.
Dining out in upscale price class restaurants in the revitalized port area of Puerto Madero you only pay a fraction of American or Swiss prices for a meal with a good bottle of Sauvignon Blanc or Malbec.
Extremely high inflation is a huge problem for Argentines. Likewise, the high black market exchange rate certainly does not contribute positively to the national budget. Nevertheless, the Argentines are very friendly, helpful people who are never averse to a little chat.
We are looking forward to traveling in Argentina again, and then to the rest of South America.