How to Annoy Border Police

Posted by on July 22, 2013

Harry and I are currently spending a few days in Copacabana (full blog post coming soon here) and today we decided to take advantage of our proximity to the border and head over to Peru for an afternoon. Our motivations were simple: more passport stamps, and another county to name-drop!

We began walking to the border, mostly because we were too tight to expend the drop in the ocean to get a taxi or bus along the 8km road. About a third of the way along we managed to hitch a lift with a very kind Peruvian family. Once in the minibus we learned we were travelling with the famous Peruvian singer, Yolandita Ivon, and her family! They dropped us at the Bolivian immigration office, but not before giving us both a free DVD of Yolandita’s singing and having us pose for half a dozen photos with her and various members of her family!

We stamped out of Bolivia, walked through the decorative arc separating it from its neighbor, and went to get our Peruvian entry stamp. The official was apparently not impressed when we asked for only one day on our tourist visa and tried to charge us US$40 each for the privilege. We told him there was no chance we could pay that and he very quickly relented, stamping us into Peru without too many stern looks.

So there we were: in Peru, having annoyed both the immigration police and a few taxi drivers as well (although that’s another story). We had £3 of Peruvian currency for the day and no idea what to spend it on. After a moment’s deliberation the answer was clear: food. In Peru we ate lunch, ate some jelly, ate some donuts, walked around Yunguyo taking photos, and then got a lift in a tricycle taxi back to the border, totally unprepared for the problems we were about to cause.

The first step to leave Peru is to have something stamped on the slip of paper you get when you arrive. This requires a visit to a part of the police station that is only two steps removed from the “side room with rubber gloves” office. Having collected this stamp we walked back to the office, to be met by a new but still very disgruntled immigration officer. My Spanish isn’t very good, but I got the impression that he wasn’t happy stamping us out on the same day someone had stamped us in! Our passports were thrown onto the desk in front of us and we were treated to a look that said “leave my country. Now.”

Our treatment in Bolivia could not have been more different; the officer understood immediately that we had gone for a day and were now coming back, and stamped us in without a problem. We splashed out on a taxi back to Copacabana (a whole 40p each!) and that is where I am writing this right now.

All in all, a successful day: I have four more stamps in my passport, two new dots on my Wolpy, I met a Peruvian popstar and angered at least two Peruvian immigration officers!

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