Canadians Crossing Borders – Bolivia to Argentina

31 Jan

Bye, bye Bolivia, Ola Argentina!

Our final business at Hotel Mitri in Tapiza was the amazing breakfast they offered to guests for free each morning. Freshly squeezed fruit juices, cereal, eggs, pastries, yogurt, watermelon – amazing – before heading to the bus station to catch our ride to Villazone.

We met up with our new friends from New Zealand and soon discovered that the bus shown to us in a picture the day before when we’d bought our bus ticket was not going to be the bus we’d be on that day. This was less of a bus and more of a van, which ended up being ok, except that we’d selected seats the previous day for a much bigger bus and the selected seats didn’t match the configuration of the smaller bus-van. This one pill of a woman insisted one of us was in her seat and threw an adult version of a toddler’s hissy fit before the woman that sold us the tickets explained something to her in Spanish and put her up front with the driver.

Other than that, the ride was pretty easy – paved, straighter roads and I think the van even had shocks which was a welcome change after the bus ride from Uyuni to Tapiza.

An hour and a half later we arrived in Villazone where we walked about 1km with our bags to line up to receive our exit stamps on the Bolivian side of the border. Little did we know we’d have to walk about 2km to the back of the line-up. What a disastrous disorganized mess! (I know I’m a little bit OCD with my organization, but even the less organized people in our group were appalled.)

We waited in that line up, in the hot sun, with our 15kg backpacks and our daypacks for over 6 hours, just to get our exit stamps.  I’m not at all sorry for having budded the line once early on which probably saved us about an hour (the Kiwi’s kept moving up as it was easier with 2 people than with 6). The reason I feel no shame is that queuing up in Bolivia is not like queuing up in Canada. Often times the rule of first come first served does not apply.

There’s not much to note of our time in line. We passed the time mostly listening to Jonny sing acapella to every ridiculous pop song he could think of while Tals danced. Pure amazing. And there was this horrible 5 year-old kid who kept kicking this poor street dog that was doing nothing but sleeping off to the side in the shade. Those of you who know me at all know how much I adore dogs so I spoke loudly in a disgusted tone about this asshole of a kid and what he was doing (pardon my French, Mum) until finally his mother told him to stop. I was not-so-secretly hoping the dog would bite the little brat.

Finally we got up to the front of the line and we found out that only 1 of the 4 us needed to go into the immigration office with all 4 passports (we didn’t even need to be there!) to get our exit stamp. Literally all the guy did was give each of our passports a stamp and we were on our way to the Argentina customs line. For the life of me I have no idea why this process took 6+ hours while the wait to go through customs on the Argentinian side was about 20 minutes. It’s mind-boggling that Bolivia can’t adopt a few tips and tricks from Argentina to move the process along.

We hopped into a Fiat cab which was like a clown car by the time you had the 4 of us, our backpacks, daypacks and the driver, and booked it to the bus station. We bought a bus ticket for the 6 hour trip to Salta, Argentina for about $50 CDN each and were off half an hour later, set to arrive at 3:30am.

Bye bye, Bolivia!

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