The border crossing from Bolivia to Peru is one which is known to charge visitors for something which should be free. Furthermore, whilst travelling towards the border we had a horror realisation: if we only got a 30 day visa we’d have to either over-stay or miss the Inca Trail. So how did we get on?
As our bus bounced along the road from Copacabana to Puno we saw an arch looming out of the distance. The nerves were building, and as we carefully practiced in our heads as we went “We need more than 30 days. How long can we stay?”
The Bolivia side was simple. None of the alleged payments which we had heard are occasionally extracted from tourists were asked for. We were stamped out, and sent to walk across the no-mans-land which forms the actual border.
At this point our bus sidles up behind us and we briefly consider climbing back on. A firm shake of the head tells us there will be no getting back on until we are stamped into Peru.
Heart-pounding, I handed my passport over to the border. As casually as is possible in such situations I asked “What’s the maximum time?” A very solid piece of broken Spanish.
As his eyes came up to meet mine, I could feel the panic rising in the back of my throat. “How many do you want?! 60, 90, 120, whatever! No worries.”
I can safely say I haven’t sighed as big a sigh of relief as I did there and then. Both stamped in for 90 days we headed back out into the Altiplano sun safely in possession of our passports and hopped back on the bus.
Moral of the story: read the visa information before each border so you know what’s coming and don’t end up garbling some desperate Spanish at a bemused border guard.
See you on the road!