This story is set on the same trip as the first story from the road installment. We were spending two weeks across Peru and Bolivia but we started off in Peru. Everything was great with the trip except for a minor not so minor hiccup; I did not have a visa to enter Bolivia. I know what you’re thinking…why didn’t you just apply before leaving the U.S, right?
Why Didn’t I Apply In Advance?
Well, what had happened was that in March or April of that year, I read something about Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia and saw a few pictures within the article and that was it. I decided I wanted to walk those salt flats. We happened to score cheap tickets on American airlines and began to plan.
Everyone and their mother needs Bolivian visa, so we made appointments and went over to the consul’s office home for our appointment. Remember we have a Nigerian (myself), an American, and a Kenyan as the characters here. We applied and were told we’d be contacted upon approval. We applied two months in advance. The Kenyan and American got their visas approved within a week, but the Nigerian needed approval from Bolivia. So I waited, and waited and waited and soon it was time to go on the trip. I had to make a decision.
Should I stay or should I go?
I decided to go for it. The trip was starting in Peru and I had my Peruvian tourist visa, so I was okay for that part. Worst-case scenario, I’d have to return from Peru and not cross into Bolivia. To me, this was better than nothing at all but deep down I knew I’d be crushed. We got to Lima, Peru and I tried contacting the Bolivian Embassy there. Their phones must be used as table props because they rarely answered. Then, when they did we had a bit of a communication challenge as my non-existent Spanish tried to connect with their non-existent English. DISASTER. Needless to say, it didn’t work out
A Last Chance in an Unlikely Place
After visiting the Lima area, we were going to Cusco Peru on our way to Macchu Picchu. A Google search resulted in finding a consulate in Cusco. Another little hiccup: we could only go on the day we arrived in Cusco and since the first issue with N not being on our flight, time was not on our side. We waited for her, dropped our bags at our hostel, and tried to get directions.
We’d just arrived in Cusco which seats at quite a high altitude. You’re supposed to take things easy, even walk slowly while your body adjusts. You’re definitely not to over exert yourself even with simple things like walking or you could get winded pretty easily and suffer altitude sickness. We walked fast, we ran, we tried to ask for directions in Spanish. We got lost, did everything we were told not to do but we didn’t care.
Somehow, some way, we arrived at this place ten minutes to closing time. Meanwhile we were skeptical like…why is this a house? Is someone going to murder us? Someone let us into what looked like a home office.
A younger lady walked in and we acted like it was TOTALLY normal to be applying for a visa there (you’re usually only able to apply for visas from a country you reside in, not from a country you’re visiting). I had all my documents and I paid the fee and she issued me a visa right there. She stayed a bit over her business hours to do this. Grace, nothing else.
Four days later, we crossed the border into Bolivia from Peru by bus and the border officials subjected me to additional scrutiny because of my passport (Whyyyy!!). I probably looked a little guilty too as I thought there was a chance they could say my visa was invalid. I got in, I got in!!!! We went on to ride in a bus with a dog, got dropped off in the middle of nowhere for hours right after the crossing, but that’s another story for another day!
So the moral of the story is…there is none! I’m not sure if what I did was plain stupid or daring, or a mix of both! When I think of this trip, I cannot but think of how I got into the country in the first place. It is the sum of these events (including seeing main sights, the people, the company) that form memories tucked away in my heart.
Bolivia was special. I knew it when I saw the pictures the first time, but I was affirmed when I got the visa in the most unexpected way. I’ll share more on our time in Bolivia at a later date.
Have you got travel stories to share? Please do so in the comments below 😉
Till next week,