Thursday, September 11, 2008

Return To Bolivia

Thursday 7th to Saturday 9th August

Now I need to solve that tricky problem of being in Peru illegally! As I have no entry stamp in my passport, just turning up at the border is going to be a bit dodgy. 3 options....

1) Turn up at the border, act like I'm heading in the opposite direction - from Bolivia and entering Peru for the first time.
    Pros - I get my passport stamped and I can then just turn round and cross back to Bolivia.
    Cons - they might see my direction of travel and then it hits the fan.

2) Get close to the border, wait for dark, head off road, sneak over the border and back to the road.
    Pros - should work, and all a bit hollywood spy thriller - I like it.
    Cons - it's all a bit of an effort, and getting caught would be truly difficult to explain. Maybe not a good option.

3) Get to the border and see if I can simply walk back across.
    Pros - Not too much hassle and it worked getting in to Peru.
    Cons - Like just walking in to trouble?

To get to the border I decide on a Collectivo - one of the small converted vans that stack around 20 locals into the space designed for 10. The advantage is that I can jump out just before the border and it attracts less attention than does a gringo tourist bus. Then I can just hopefully cycle across the border and to Copacabana. That's the plan....

The collectivo is an uncomfortable, but good natured journey and the locals are chatty - curious about the only white face aboard. I alight at Yunguyo, the border town in Peru. This is what I somehow failed to see a few days ago when I entered Peru...

I try and blend into crowds milling round the border check point. Not easy being a paler shade of skin and pushing a fully loaded touring bike, but amazingly, I am able to just walk unchallenged past machine gun toting soldiers and barriers and stand bemused, once again on Bolivian soil...

Not wanting to tempt fate I delay celebrations and ride like a man illegally crossing a border - like rapidly out of there.

15kms later in Copacabana, I discover the bus for La Paz leaves in 40 minutes, so one rapid dose of street food later, I make the second bus trip of the day and arrive after dark in La Paz.

I am greeted off the bus by uniformed "Tourist Police" who refuse to let me ride. They insist, despite protestations, that I take a taxi to a hostel.

Next morning I realise I will be in La Paz for longer than planned as all transport is cancelled due to the Bolivian national elections taking place.

Walking the streets is like visiting a ghost town. Remembering the bussle and overload of just a few days ago, the town now has a surreal feel to it....

The total absence of cars turns main streets in to play grounds for kids....

But also lays bare some of the nastier problems the rush and crush of crowds serves to hide....

Night falls as the city holds it's breath and awaits the verdict from the masses....


Anonymous said...

Hi Martin!

Where are you right now?! Didn`t you plan to go on cycling with your girl friend???
How are you? We´re still dreaming of this wonderful trip we had - meeting so many nice people like you!
Yours Jose and Ulli from a wintery Europe where you might be right now also?!

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