Today we crossed the border, maybe 300 meters from where we slept. Regardless of leaving at 8am, we didn’t actually manage getting across until 12. First I had to wait for a bank to open at 9 to get cash out so I could pay the $160 Visa fee at the border. I waited in a line of disgruntled locals until we all decided the bank was never going to open, something not too unusual by their reactions. So instead, I used the ATM to pull out the local currency at an inflated rate (plus ATM / bank fees) and was directed downtown to exchange it at a currency exchange for US dollars. I exchanged it at an even worse rate and then proceeded to go to the various governmental offices to get stamped out of the country. Three offices later I road my bike across the bridge cluttered with pedestrians – who seemingly ignored the government offices and carelessly went back and forth – and went to get stamped into Bolivia. The line was over an hour long in the blistering sun and was painstakingly slow. Worse, there were no posted directions on where to go and what paperwork to fill out so I had to figure it all out on my own. By the time Eveline and I got to the immigration office, she got stamped in and I, being an American, had to go into an unlit back office to pay for my Visa. There, I was told half of my dollars would not be accepted due to small tears in the bills you would need a microscope to see. So I was sent back to Peru to exchange more money, this time the measly amount of Chilean pesos I had on me, for new bills. I eventually returned, was ignored for half an hour before they took my money and gave me my visa, then sent to get my passport stamped. Here I was told to go back to Peru again and photocopy several pages in my passport. Thankfully I returned with more than necessary photocopies because the office took them all, having forgot to tell me I needed certain pages copied beforehand. Now I had my Visa and had to get my motorcycle into the country legally. I went to the Aduana office and handed them my paperwork. More photocopies, back to Peru. I returned and finally got my bike approved after some misunderstanding over some serial numbers.
Finally! On to La Paz, two hours away. We packed our stuff and went to a gas station to fill the tank before heading on our way. But the gas station didn’t have gas. Okay so the next gas station. Nope no gas either. Okay… Maybe we will find gas on the way.. With the tank on red we put all of our hope into that plan and two gas stations later, nothing. We were faced with using the 40 km worth of gas left in the tank to either hope the next station (exactly 40km away) would have gas, or turn around and go back to Peru to fill the tank up. Not wanting to risk it, we went back to Peru…
So as not to do all the paperwork again, we left our bike in Bolivia and snuck across the border hidden in a crowd of locals. We looked desperately for a gas can, found one, then walked another mile looking for a gas station. Nothing in sight, we walked into a small shop on the side of the road with a hunched over woman shuffling around between piles of plastic gas cans. We asked if she sold gas and if it would work in my motorcycle. She said probably, filled up our 5 gallon can with one of hers while I held the funnel, and then we walked back to Bolivia. The can was too big to pour into the motorcycle tank so we shimmied a funnel out of a soda bottle we bough from a vendor on the street. We filled the tank and finally went on our way. 7 hours later we were finally leaving this border town. Within a kilometre of leaving I hit a speed bump and heard that same awful farting noise. I immediately pulled over to check what had happened only to witness that the back end of my duffle was demolished by my rear wheel. Several clothes were torn to shreds, my electric razor and a bungee cord snapped in half, and there was a gapping hole in the back of the bag. At this point in my day I could laugh anything off and that’s what I did. I rearranged some stuff to temporarily fix the problem and headed for La Paz. We made it this time just as it started to rain, and of course more of my bag had been shredded in the process. We went to the La Paz Loki hostel and settled in. We had meant to go another 3 hours today but it just wasn’t worth it at this point. We got dinner and a beer at the bar and passed out immediately afterwards.