(written 11/9 @ 9:30PM) Can't say that I'm shocked or surprised, but I'm definitely annoyed. We are still stuck in Peru, yet officially all of us (ten teams worth of people here) are here illegally – since we've already left Peru and entered Bolivia as people then "snuck" back into Peru to take our motos across… yet failed at that bit.
After paying an export company $100 per team back in Puno, we showed up at their office this morning at 7AM having been told they would have us through and into Bolivia inside of four hours after they opened at 8AM. We did get everyone over to the weigh station outside the truck/shipping border within a couple hours and this bit went smoothly. We then rolled back to the office around 10:30AM where they told us they would have the paperwork ready for everyone by 1PM. Much drinking and mucking about ensued for a bit (responsibly of course).
At 1PM the paperwork still wasn't ready, and Rob started asking around and we found out we needed to go to the aduano in Bolivia and fill out some forms there as well. I'll spare you all the drama, but eventually we got to this guy Luis who had spent two years in DC and understood computers and nailed us all up with the Bolivian paperwork inside of a couple hours and for free. While the rest of the teams were getting this, I went to get my Bolivian visa…
What an experience. I had read about it and knew a bit what to expect, so I came prepared with copies of my vaccinations (especially yellow fever), some passport photos, copy of my credit card, return flight, etc. as well as $140 in USD I pulled out in Puno. Once I filled out the immigration paperwork (after checking out of Peru), this guy took me around to this little office and LOCKED ME IN with him to finish filling out the paperwork. I pulled out my $140 USD when he asked for the $100 fee and a border cost of $35 as well, and he immediately started freaking out about a teeny 1/8" tear in one of the notes.
Mind you, these were brand new out of the ATM the day before… so I told him so and basically ignored him while I finished out the forms. Once they were all complete he told me he couldn't accept that $20 bill and that I needed to give him another. Having heard this scam could happen I deliberately didn't bring any extra money and I told him this. We argued for about 5min (at this point with me faking much worse spanish and pretending I didn't understand most of what he was complaining about) and I had to empty all my pockets, my wallet, and my sling to show I had no more cash on me.
Finally he grumpily said that he didn't have any change and couldn't pay me the $5 he owed me, for which I said no problem and told him he could keep it for himself for the headache caused by the tear in the bill. He then got quite happy, shook my hand and thanked me, then finally unlocked the door and let me out to finish the paperwork. I then got a nifty little stamp and a piece of paper in my passport and was told they needed a photocopy of this. I said no problem, go for it… and he explained they don't have photocopiers on the Bolivian side of the border here! I had to go back to Peru and pay for fotocopias (I had 50 cents left in soles) and bring them back to the Bolivians to get my paperwork…
This sorted, we went back to get our motos and drive them over but the paperwork kept getting delayed and delayed on the Peruvian side. Finally at 7:30PM they show up with them, with the border closing in 30min and drop a great bomb on us… as a group we needed to pay $230 USD to get out! A huge ruckus followed where they actually kept us locked into this border compound because we insisted we had already each paid $100 for us and we eventually found out the export company hadn't included the actual export fees in their costs… we were able to scrape together enough money between the teams to pay but by then the border was closed (8PM).
Now we're crashing here in Peru for hopefully one more night, then tomorrow morning we need to try to cross the border even though technically we've all crossed and our paperwork says the motos left Peru at 8:30PM today… it may be ugly but I'm hoping it will balance out.
I need to be able to drive fast and smooth and long and have no problems to finish what I want now – I may need to skip Potosi to pull it off. Ugh.