An Eventful Border Crossing


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South America » Bolivia » Potosí Department » Villazón
December 18th 2008
Published: December 28th 2008
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Day 625 (14.12.08)

So the bus that had deposited us in Tupiza at 4am several days ago would sadly be the bus that would continue on to the border at Villazon where we were next headed. That meant an unspeakable hour being set into the alarm clock and three bleary eyed travellers arriving at the bus station for a 4am departure.

After a sleep filled couple of hours we realized the bus had come to a halt and looking out the window it was clear that we hadn't yet arrived at our destination. Mark set off to try and find out what had happened to find that with rain fall over the last few days the road to the border had turned to mush and a bus a little further up was well and truly stuck in it. With it looking like it would take several hours for it to get moving and a large queue of buses already building, although not sure how far away it was, we followed countless locals and donned our packs in an attempt to walk to the border.

Despite the extremely sticky mud making progress slow to start with the beautiful early mornig weather and green scenery (lovely after so long at altitude) made the walk far more enjoyable than you'd expect. After an hour or so Villazon was finally in sight and, although tempted to continue walking, we still had 8 hours of bus journey ahead of us in Argentina so when the taxis started to arrive from Villazon we hopped into one and were glad we had when the distance to go was considerably further than we'd thought.

We spent our last Bolivianos and crossed the border with no hassles sad to wave goodbye to Bolivia with it's beautful scenery and charming people. Once on the Argentinian side we hailed a cab, asked him to stop at a cashpoint and then the bus station. That turned out to be easier said than done, 2 banks later (the only 2 in town) no ATM would give us cash and being Sunday the bank was closed so we couldn't get a cash advance. Unable to pay the cabbie we scrabbled around and managed to come up with a few bits of Bolivian change to pay the fare apologising profusely that he'd have to change them.

We were hopeful that one of the companies in the bus station would take VISA now we were in a more developed country but after a search around found that no-one could (or would). Oh dear! With contingency plans involving a day of starvation and an early morning bank visit the following day beginning to form in our minds a local told us that there was another ATM that took visa just 2 blocks away. Chrissie sat with the bags as Tess and Mark went to find out. It turned out to be the same one that we'd already visited but thankfully on us requesting just a small amount of cash this time it decided to oblige!

We found the cheapest ticket we could and hopped onto the bus only to find that it wasn't a direct service. A few hours on a cramped bus later we were dropped in Jujuy to wait a couple of hours for our next bus. Filling the time pleasantly with some large beers and a couple of games of Skip-Bo (UNO's brother) we were soon on a far more comfortable bus for the last couple of hours to Salta. We eventually arrived in Salta at 9pm and a journey that should have taken 10 hours had taken us 17 but despite it all we'd had a fun day.

After a bit of tramping around with the change in country evident from the word go and we found a place to stay, settled in for the night eager to learn about Haydn's journey - he'd left Tupiza on the 2pm bus and we wondered how he would fare. It turned out that his bus had ended up in a ditch not far out of Tupiza and after waiting for 2 hours for it to be dug out they were back on their way but he didn't make it to Salta until 8am, another mammoth and eventful trip into a new country!



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