Road Block Trouble in Bolivia...

Trip Start Jan 12, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Bolivia  ,
Friday, June 2, 2006

I arrived in Pocitos which borders Bolivia´s city of Yacuiba at 7am, I was awoke by a street kid who boarded the bus looking for a tourist who wanted their luggage carried to the border. Turns out the bus had arrived 10 minutes earlier! Luckily my bag was still there so I hired the kid to carry my bag as a gesture of goodwill. All went well through the Argentine immigration but turned bad at the bridge which separates Bolivia and Argentina. I was surrounded by two of his friends and demanded to pay the USD$50 fee for the luggage carried. One was very aggressive looking, covered in scars and tatts. I gave them the last of my Argentine pesos (10 pesos or USD$5 of which I had intended to give half of), turned my back and walked away. Thankfully they did not chase....
Had no problems at Bolivian immigration and got into a cab to find an ATM and get to the terminal for my 9am bus. ATM was no problem but turns out there is a road block half way between the border where I was and Santa Cruz which was my final destination some 8 hours away. The government wants to move the local University faculty to Santa Cruz which means 2000 students would have to move and also affect the local economy.
I met an Argentine guy (Ronal) in the same predicament, so we put our heads together to come up with a plan. We discovered we could catch expresso´s (not coffee´s!! but cars that take 4 or 5 people, sort of like a taxi but not). So we took our first expresso to Villamonte (15 bolivianos and 1 hour away), in Villamonte we caught another expresso to Camiri (25 bolivianos and 2.15 hours). We were dropped at the the road block and had to walk 1.5 kilometres to the inner perimeter of the roadblock. A local boy had a wheelbarrow and took our bags the 1.5kilomtres UPHILL!! We couldn't keep up with him!!!
Once in the inner perimeter we took another expresso into town where we had lunch. After lunch another expresso to the inner perimeter of the roadblock on the opposite side of town and then had to walk 3 kilometres to the our perimeter where we caught another expresso to the awaiting bus!! 8 taxis, 25 Bolivianos (for the bus) and 5 hours later we arrived in Santa Cruz!!! Amazingly 3 hours later than the original bus but at 3 times the price which in USD was only $20!! A major inconvenience, but a great introduction to the way things work in Bolivia.

HOT TIPS for travellers:
1) EVERY hotel is cheaper than the HI affiliate! I stayed at the Hotel Amazonas in the matrimonial suite for 100BS (USD$22).
2) Check with the consulate before any travel in Bolivia as issues like mine above are common
3) I met an English couple at the beginning of my trip and their advice was "don't take flights in Bolivi", I now know why!!!
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