Now when I say “pass”, I mean mountain pass. It is also a border crossing between Chile & Argentina based high up in the Andes.  I wasn’t alarmed when I saw the miles and miles of trucks stopped on the side of the road because our big ol’ bus was rolling right by them. Then we started the climb up the mountain where, I read, we would go up and up via the 29 (29!) hairpin curves. We started climbing and I tried not to pay attention to the lack of guardrails or the huge trucks coming down the mountain, and I really tried not to pay attention when our bus driver passed the trucks in front of us, barely dodging the oncoming traffic.
Climbing up the Andes curve by curve on Chile side
We made it up to a tunnel and then we stopped. For whatever reason – lunchtime maybe? – the tunnel was closed so we sat in a line of cars and trucks for 45 minutes. Some families got out of the bus to go play in the snow. When the tunnel opened we went through and within 20 minutes we reached the border. We all had to get out of the bus with our passports and papers and wait in line to 1) leave Chile and then 2) enter Argentina.
Turns out in my attempt to keep my Chile “travel paper” safe and not fall out of my passport, I accidentally misplaced it. And it turns out you really should have this paper when exiting the country. In my first attempt to go through the line without the paper, the young woman working customs told me to go to the end of the line, so I did. 10 minutes later I was back at the front of the line at her window. I still hadn’t found my travel paper. oopsie. She scolded me and told me it was a “very important paper” and gave me a new one. Then we went through the Argentina line and got our visa and I was so happy & relieved!  The trip from Santiago to the border took about four hours.  We had about three more before we would get to Mendoza. On the Argentine side of the border we got a new driver who drove much faster than the previous driver.  It was a scary, but I went with it and we managed to stay on the road.  The impressive terrain reminded me of Big Bend, and helped me get my mind off the dangerous driving.
Argentina side
Needless to say we were ready to get to Mendoza and when we finally arrived, exhausted and hungry, we got our bags, some Argentine money and jumped into a taxi.
I had read about B&B Italia in both our guidebooks - Lonely Planet & Rough Guide - and we agreed that we could treat ourselves to a comfortable place for a few days while we looked for an apartment. We arrived at the B&B and, luckily, they had a room. We were greeted the owner, Mercedes, and she immediately made us feel at home. She and her husband raised their family in this house and converted it to a 6 room B&B about 12 years ago.  Exhausted and hungry, we sat with her at the dining room table for half an hour as she identified places on a city map that we may need: ATM, laundry, her favorite restaurant, her favorite gelato place. I’ve never seen John sit so patiently when he was hungry. We loved Mercedes immediately– she' so peaceful and has a wonderful, calming accent. Her son Javier arrived – he gave Mercedes the idea to start a Bed and Breakfast 12 years ago. He also leads wine tours for guests.  In his former life he was a suit and tie type working in Pepsi's local corporate offices.  He is much happier working at the Bed and Breakfast and leading wine tours.

At 7:00 we went to dinner to celebrate finally arriving in our destination! 

neat light design in Plaza Independencia in the city center