Crossing the Bolivian Border

6 Jul

Motorcycle ride to the bolivian border, a skinny good natured cabbie was the driver. A good command of  English and a good command of the wheel.  The kind of driver I like. Fast, controlled, and careful.

I was glad to be on my way.  Three months in rio, and it was time to move on, time to feel the thrill of the road.  28 hours and counting.  There was the 22 hour bus ride from sao paolo, made a bit longer when my bus left a rest stop without me knowing, with my bag and everything I owned in toe.

Then there was another 6 hours to Corumba, Brazil’s bordertown to Bolivia and gateway to the pantanal, a moto-taxi ride through the night, and a sketchy hotel that barely cost 20 bucks which came with a sketchy hotel owner too – whom I interrupted watching porn at the receptionist desk.

But that was all behind my as I sat on the back of a motorcycle, with everything I owned on my back, zooming past truck drivers on my way to the bolivian border – where I would be bribed for over a hundred bucks.

A gold toothed border guard flashed a smile, showed me some bogus paperwork, and smugly informed me that I either had to pay or head back in the other direction.  I smoked a cigarette outside to think over my options, maybe to earn some pity as well.

A chorus of women chimed “cambio,”  “cambio,” in unison.  A group of men sang their own aggressive tune.  “Taxi, Taxi.”  I haggled with the guards but they wouldn’t lower their demand, so I made the walk of shame to a bank (a few blocks into Bolivia) where the machine conveniently offered a quick withdrawal of 140 dollars.  The bribe would be a buck thirty-five.

I flirted with the idea of making a run for it but ended up back at the border, handing over my cash to the border guards, and wishing them luck with their new purchases.  The whole exchange left me somewhat disheveled, and I went on my way without acquiring any Bolivian currency, mistrusting the street women’s exchange rates and taking a hit when I was forced to pay for a train ticket with Brazilian bills.

Thought I guess the border guards were somewhat disheveled themselves, or at least gidy from their new found loot, because they gave me a 5 year visa, a period unheard of for most travelers.

Guess I’ll stay a while then…


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