Sunday, 18 March 2012
To be organised or not to be organised that is the dilemma.
With Arica disappearing rapidly behind us we headed for the hills and after some stunning scenery we hit the Chilean/Bolivian border post situated at just over 4000m. So from 10m to 4000m in a couple of hours and in the middle of the stage we had to obtain fuel from a man with a selection of flammable spirits in 50 gallon drums nestled in a courtyard behind his house. Whilst starting to feel lightheaded we passed relatively easily through Chilean formalities and then hit Bolivian customs. You can see their cream portakabin in the picture below. So why were we sent to a back office in a shop just across the border for someone to enter our details in a computer? Yes a computer and for him to charge us 10 bolivianos each for the pleasure.
On my last visit to this border post I had stayed in a room above an adjacent shop as I waited for a Chilean customs strike to finish. Back to the portakabin to be told that we needed photocopies of our registration documents. Fortunately I had these at hand but Des's had done a disappearing act and so back to the shop for copies and the opportunity for us to hand over more money. All the while I was starting to feel pretty awlfull. Eventually we got through at about 1600 and rode on towards Patacamaya.
It was like we had stepped into another world. The houses were made out of mud bricks, the women all wore traditional dress which often included a type of bowler hat perched on their heads and the atmosphere was one of poverty and here comes another Westerner how much money can we scam out of them. This was a totally opposite experience from the one I had had 2 years previous.