Catastrophic Crossing

Trip Start Aug 12, 2010
Trip End Sep 23, 2011

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Flag of Bolivia  , Santa Cruz,
Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Hi all,

We landed in Quijarro after our 20 hour train journey from Santa Cruz as it is the border town for Brazil. We stayed here overnight before our (horrendous) crossing into Bonito, Brazil. At first, all went well. We woke up had a lazy breakfast, swam in the pool and ordered our taxi to the border. The signs at the hostel showed (and the owner verified) that the border shut at 12pm till 2pm. Our bus to Bonito left at 2pm so we made our way in the taxi at 11.00am; plenty of time as the border was 5 minutes away.

Unfortunately, the owner did not tell us that the time difference changed at the Bolivian border into Brazilian time (stupid!!). So it wasn't 11.10 when we arrived it was 12.10 so the border was shut! We had to sit on a curb for 2 hours waiting for our passports to be stamped. The border post has no shops, no food stalls, no nothing so we sat for 2 hours knowing we had missed our bus to Bonito. Plan B I guess.

Our next destination after Bonito was Campo Grande. As we weren't supposed to arrive in Campo Grande for another 3 days we hadn't looked up any bus times or whether we could even get to Campo Grande from Quijarro. But as there was no other option we waited until 2pm and took a local bus to the coach station. Luckily there was a coach to Campo Grande in a few hours time. We luckily exchanged our remaining Bolivianos into Brazilian Reais back at the border; but not very much hoping to reach an ATM. Just our luck no ATM at the coach station. Fate was finally on our side and we had literally just enough with 10 Reais spare (3) to reach Campo Grande.

The coach journey went well until we were stopped by the police. Everyone had to get off and the coach had to be searched. The sniffer dogs came out and guess who got stopped....oh yes dear old Thomas!!! The dogs had sniffed his bloody bag and sat patiently next to it while a police officer body searched Thomas and made him empty all his bag. A little worrying but not a problem. We all got on the bus ready to leave, but then the dog searched under the bus in the large luggage compartment and guess what....yep Thomas got pulled off the bus again and had to empty all his rucksack (which any traveller knows takes a long time and quite a bit of care to pack as it all fits just so). Great. Until they called me off the bus too and asked me to empty all my bag too. An hour later after a bit of a laugh with the police after trying to explain all our medication, intimate toiletries and sterile needles we continued to Campo Grande. Luckily there was a guard who spoke English otherwise I think we would have been a bit screwed as we know no Portuguese and the guards that didn't speak English weren't the friendliest. I guess we must just smell and not know it after 3 months travelling!!

Soon after we stopped at a restaurant to have dinner. A buffet was on offer and as we had only enough for one person we thought we would be sneaky and I would sit on the bus while Thomas would fill his plate to the top and then ask for it to be take-away. This apparently was not allowed and so Thomas had to sit there eating a plate for two while I sat on the bus not eaten since breakfast (it was now 8pm). Thomas later relayed about stuffing some down his trousers but fortunately he decided against that!!

Five hours into our (supposedly) six hour coach journey Thomas got rather ill. A high fever was developing and in the end he was constantly on the coach toilet (serves him right eating so much!). But as we arrived at the coach station at midnight (2 hours late) Thomas was pretty bad and we had to find a hostel that would still be open and was not full. Our guide book recommended Nosa Nova Hotel (also known as Campo Grande Youth Hostel) that was apparently opposite the coach station...excellent! So we took a stroll up the road and couldn't find it. After a walk back to the coach station to get money from the ATM (which only allowed you to get out pittance as it was after 1am) we got a taxi to the so-called close hostel. As it was after midnight the taxi was on double time.....more like quadruple time. The money went up every 6 seconds. Meaning every 30 seconds our taxi was going up by a 1. After a ten minute journey we reached the hostel which was opposite a coach station....the old one!! For any perspective travellers going to Campo Grande for your information: since the guide books have been written a new coach station has been built so ignore everything the books say. But luckily they had a room and Thomas could sleep....for 2 days straight and recover!After an exhausting border crossing, as the song says.....things can only get better!    

The best and worst bits of Bolivia can now be seen in this video -
Love Hollie and Thomas x x x
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