3 minutes ago
“No es posible ingresar a Bolivia. Vuelve a Chile.” That is the direct quote from the Bolivian immigration officer who held my fate, and passport, in his hands. Without a hint of sympathy, he’d just said, “It is not possible to enter Bolivia. Go back to Chile.” I knew it would likely be the toughest country I had attempted to enter to date, but I didn’t realize I’d be staring down the very real possibility of being kicked off my bus and left alone at the Chilean/Bolivian border in the middle of the desert.
I thought I did my homework. Americans must provide a laundry list of items in order to receive a Bolivian tourist visa upon entry. I photocopied my passport in color and black and white, had proof of yellow fever vaccination ready, booked all of my hostels ahead of time complete with email confirmations and had my proof of exit, an emailed bus ticket leaving Copacabana, Bolivia and going to Puno, Peru.
Lastly, and most importantly, I had $200 in U.S. twenties on me. A couple weeks ago, when visiting home, my bank teller and I sifted through the available twenties, handpicking only those with no creases, stains or folds. The Bolivian visa only costs $160, but if the border agent found issue with any of my bills, I’d have two extras to swap in.
We know border agents are rarely the warm and fuzzy type, and this gruff gent was no exception. He aggressively grabbed my pile of neatly organized paperwork, and began rifling through it. When he asked me to show my proof of accommodation, I reached for my phone, but apparently electronic documents were unacceptable. Additionally, I only had the original yellow fever vaccination certificate, whereas, apparently, he needed a paper copy of it.
We didn’t get much further when he demanded I take a seat, quite annoyed I did not meet the precise requirements. Fortunately, I was not alone. Another American couple was going through the exact same drama. Maybe we could problem-solve together. They, like me, had most pieces of their needed puzzle, but lacked a couple items. They, too, were told they’d be left at the border.
When it seemed totally hopeless…
Read the rest at facebook.com/mindfulvagabond