Border Crossing 101

Trip Start Aug 15, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Bolivia  ,
Wednesday, August 30, 2006

F##king Bolivia!!! All you can do is smile and say "well, that?s South America for ya" when things happen the way they did for us. It seems simple, clear get a bus from Peru into Bolivia. End of story. But, no, no,....some cosmic force was trying to keep us in Peru. One thing after the next.
To start the adventure we woke up at 6AM in order to be at the terminal at 7AM and catch our bus leaving at 7:30AM. We bought tickets with Ormeno because it was a "better, well know, reputable company".
We get to the bus station and no one is at the Ormeno counter. At 7:45AM our Ormeno guy finally shows up (all the while we- along with all the other passengers- had been in a panic thinking we missed the 7:30 AM departure somehow, waiting at the wrong gate or something) and tells us that the bus will not be leaving until 8:30 AM since it is coming from Lima and is running behind. Ok, no problem, we go upstairs and have some coca tea.
Well, at 8:30 we go back to the counter and still no bus. Then a little before 9AM the Ormeno bus pulls in (Amen!) and they let us through the gate to board. Eager to get the journey started we all line up, tickets in hand, but we have to wait for all the Lima passengers to get off first. Ok, empty on! But NO! We get pushed aside and the bus pulls away. So now we are all waiting in the parking lot. We assume that the bus went to fuel up...something quick. Sasha is spinning circles, doing yoga poses,we make a video (for your viewing pleasure)...waiting, waiting....9:30 - still no bus.
So Sasha goes to ask the Ormeno guy where the bus went. It has a mechanical problem she is told. Fine, deep breath... "Can it be fixed?" We should know in 30 minutes, she is told.
As one of the only passengers who speaks both Spanish and English, Sasha reports back to the rest of the travelers (all lounging around the parking lot). One guy wants to get the police involved, wants to make an official complaint, demand a new bus. We do rally together and speak with the manager of the terminal who assures us that he will look into it. See, patience would be the right choice here, but since the border closes at 5PM, worry sets in. Rolling our eyes, laughing,...typical South America!
Tessa can see the light at the end of the tunnel (the animal refuge where we will be volunteering), but that light is in Bolivia and it just doesn't seem like we are going to make it. Her fuse is extremely short.
Hooray! The bus is fixed and at 10:30 AM (3 hrs behind schedule) we are on the road.
Crossed borders without a problem. All passengers have to deboard and get the passport exit stamp in Peru then walk across a bridge into Bolivia where you get your entry stamp and the bus picks you back up.
Once in La Paz we planed to stay the night and buy an early morning ticket to Cochbamba, our last stop before Villa Tunari. Nope, just our luck!!! There is a 3 day transportation strike nation wide. No buses, taxis, nada. Tessa has smoke pouring from her ears at this point, but we get a hotel and decide to make the best of it.
The 70s decor in Hotel Milton made it by far the best choice! Please stay there if you are in La Paz. Words cannot explain, see the pics, but they still do not do it justice.
The first day of the strike was eerie. Being in a huge capital city and seeing no vehicles. Everyone was walking down the middle of the roads, like one big sidewalk.
We met up again with our friend James (Macchu Picchu)
Strike ended a day a bus to Cochabamba...Parque Machia here we come!
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