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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

How Not to Enter Bolivia

In our experience of traveling thus far, we have had very few problems with boarder crossings. Whether we fly in or enter via bus, Americans typically get in with out fuss. Bolivia was another story. Being unprepared for our upcoming "adventure" we hop on to our bus from Peru to Bolivia, making sure we were of course with a reputable company that would't rob us or take us somewhere we didn't want to go (yes that happens). After a one hour ride on a somewhat smooth but windy road we approach the area to stamp out of Peru. Piece of cake. I show my passport, give the officer a smile and I'm out in a flash. Now all I need to do is walk the half mile to the Bolivian boarder and get stamped in. I hurl my bag over my shoulders and take off on the road lined with stalls selling trinkets and souvenirs, and a lot of food. Brandon and I stop and grab a bite to eat just as we step into Bolivia as we were so excited to try some new Bolivian cuisine. This was the first and unfortunately not the last time we ate Bolivian street food; enter food poisoning..

Joining the line to get stamped in we are approached by an officer that asked if we were Americans. "Yes" we reply sheepishly unsure of why that matters. He pulls us out of line and tells us to wait in the corner. We do as told and wait for the next 20 minutes. After no one new approaches us, we go to find help. Thankfully we see some other Americans who were just stamped in, indicating to us the numerous documents they showed the immigrations officer, my eyes grow wide as I realize we have none of these.

We get back in line and are pulled out again, this time put in a new line where other Americans were just finishing the process. It's now my turn and I cowardly step up to the officer and give the best "Hola, Como esta!" I can. He takes my passport, unamused and asks for my documents (onward flight ticket, hotel reservation, copy of passport, copy of yellow fever vaccination...). I pull out my phone with an old hotel reservation on it hoping he won't notice, but he won't even give it a glance. "Must be printed" strike one, I think to myself. "Ticket for onward flight" he states, again looking for additional documentation. I try to explain (in Spanish) that I'm not leaving the country via plane, which is why I don't have an onward ticket. He scours at me "no ticket no entry." strike two. By this time I'm more than frazzled, digging in my bag looking for something I know isn't there, shaking a bit uncontrollably. I try to compose and attempt to ask what I'm supposed to do, but emotions take over and I break down. We can't be stranded here; there's no lodging, no transportation, we were literally in the middle on nowhere! Shit. Again, attempting to speak in between crys, I plead with the officer, now in English, hoping he'll take pity on me. I start getting money out. Maybe he'll see that I have money and he'll let me in. However trying to bribe your way in is useless when you only have enough cash to cover the cost of the Visa. strike three.

Without going into more detail we did finally make it into Bolivia, via a lot of tears, and somehow sympathy from an unamused immigrations officer... and we were welcomed into the country with the worst case of travelers diarrhea we have ever had.  


  1. Oh no!!! What is so different about Bolivia that it was so much more challenging to enter the country?

    And what's the deal with the food!? That sounds terrible!

    Love you guys! Thanks for posting! I've missed your blogs!

  2. At least the symptoms of food poisoning didn't start while you were in line. That woulda made for an even more exhausting time.