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  • Day17

    La Paz - 24 to 25 July

    July 25, 2015 in Bolivia ⋅ ⛅ 4 °C

    So like I said, we left Puno at around 7 in the am...this is when the nightmare officially began....we just didn't know it yet.

    That's actually a gross overstatement. The bus ride and our fellow passengers were awesome....but the border crossing left a lot to be desired. Let me explain....

    So we arrive at the border and are given no instructions whatsoever other than the fact that the bus is going to drop us off on the Peru side and then pick us up on the Bolivian side.

    Now Jaime and Keith have both seen their fair share of border crossings...Jaime insisted that she had seen more and Keith cannot dispute this fact. Regardless, the Peru - Bolivia border crossing on the way from Puno to La Paz is one of the biggest clusters either on of us had ever seen.

    Luckily, some Japanese passengers and Jaime knew what to do....and the rest of the passengers followed suit. We go into a nondescript building on the Peru side and get our stamps....that portion was easy enough. We then walk over the border battling thousands of people walking and pushing carts in both directions. It was like two herds of thundering mud turtles were going the opposite directions...

    We finally make our way through the melee and get to another nondescript building, this time on the Bolivian side of the border. There are no signs where to go, just throngs of people standing and sitting in what appears to be a line of some sort. Also, please believe me when I tell you that calling it a line is stretch. So we finally figure out which side to stand on and we start walking to the end of the 'line'...and we kept walking.....and kept walking....and kept walking. We finally get to the end of the line and we are absolutely dumbstruck by how long it is. We can still see the building, but we are easily a few hundred yards from where we need to be. We end up standing in line for almost 3 hours. We finally get towards the front of the 'line' and the Policia realize we're Americanos and so we need a visa. We expected this and were prepared. So we go through the door and see there are only 2 people stamping passports. We go over to the visa lady and hand over our forms and cash and watch her inspect each and every bill we handed her. We also decided to drool over her baby a bit in the hopes of expediting the process....this only moderately helped.

    So we get our visas and walk over to get our stamps. Jaime went first and tried to helped a British citizen from Hong Kong. The Bolivian border personnel must have missed out on the British/Hong Kong relationship in their history class because they didn't understand....long story short, it eventually got worked out because another tourist was able to give them a history lesson. So Jaime got her stamps and the border guy then told her he needed a photocopy of her visa and passport....and he wouldn't return her stamped form until she got one. This was not a normal procedure....and Jaime, who never misses a chance to question authority figures in a foreign country, started to ask why. Her questions and the language barrier prompted multiple Spanish speakers to ask why as well since the bureaucrat was clearly holding up progress. This caused the Policia to help us even more to get us out of there asap...

    So she follows the directions of the Policia and runs over and gets one, with Keith following close behind. We get our copies and then head back. We hand him our copies and the arse doesn't do anything with them, he just sits them to the side and hands over the form. It's also interesting to note none of the other humans had to make copies. I guess it's nice to know there are asshole bureaucrats all over the world. So after we get through that, we walk to the bus and enjoy some leftover pizza we had brought with us. Trust me when I tell you that having that pizza was a clutch move as we were starving.

    After we got everyone on board, we made our way to La Paz....

    Bolivia is poor...like really poor. It's also covered with trash by the roads and cess pools/canals leading into the city. The countryside is beautiful, but is also littered with trash. It really is a shame.

    So we got to La Paz and found out where the hostels are. Jaime had the taxi drop us off at the bottom of the hill so Keith had to drag the 'fuzzing' rolling duffel bag all over creation. Keith has come to despise the rolling duffel bag...

    So they finally make it to an affordable hostel and check in. Jaime originally found a very expensive hostel that Keith would have stayed at, but she wanted something a little more affordable. She also insists that Keith is the one that said that it was too expensive....but I digress....

    So we drop off our bags in the room and get ready to go out and explore the town. We walked a couple of miles and during that time, we saw the witches market, another huge market and the lights and sounds of the Bolivian capital.

    We stopped at a nice restaurant and had a delicious meal, even though they brought Jaime the wrong food and they avoided coming to our table...these issues did not annoy Jaime in the least (sarcasm)...

    So we go back to the room in the hopes of crashing since both of us are exhausted....Unfortunately, there was a smell in the bathroom. That's actually not a fair description. It actually smelled like something died in the pipes. It was awful. Jaime tried to brush her teeth, but started dry heaving. Seeing her gag and smelling the bathroom also made Keith dry heave. It was a 'beautiful' moment...

    So we decide to notify the management and they promptly gave us another room. This one was much better. We fell asleep and got ready to explore the city the next day.

    When we woke up we walked around some more and had breakfast and spent the day walking around shopping and getting ready for our bus ride to Santa Cruz....a city in eastern Bolivia. So we show up to the bus station on time and the bus was delayed.

    I'm currently typing this post on the way to Santa Cruz and more details regarding this 18 hour ride will come later....
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