We all know that you should get a Bolivian visa prior to landing in the country. But some of us *coughmecough* think it’s fine to wing it. I had read somewhere that even though they had advised this, you could just buy one when you land. It’s on the internet. It must be true.
The city was beautiful, as most are at night. I was standing in line talking to another traveler from DC that also did not have a visa. In broken Spanish, I asked the immigration officer whether or not we were in the correct line. I couldn’t quite understand his thick accent but he pointed to the booth and then back at the line we were in. I nodded without understanding. The lady in the local line next to us laughed, “I think he understood. But I think you go here, then go pay.”
“Where’s your visa?”
“I need to buy it”
He handed me back my passport and pointed me toward the desk labeled cashier. We stood in line a whole lot more. When I finally got to the front, I pulled out my wallet. Uh oh. I knew I’d needed to get to an ATM that morning but was running late and had just enough for the visa. Somewhere between the room and here I must have dropped a $20.
In my broken Spanish, I asked if I could pay with a card.
“No. En effectivo” (Cash only)
I asked about an ATM. He whistled at another officer that had me leave my stuff and took me through immigration, up the escalator and to the wide selection of ATM’s.
“Which is the best one?” I asked in Spanish, knowing it made no difference.
He pointed me toward a green and white one singing a static sounding song. Fantastic. This must be a joke.
We wandered back down the stairs, in the back door to immigration and I got back in line. As I finally was in the final steps of getting the visa, the printer jammed. As I watched them load and reload paper, I couldn’t help but think this will make a great story one day. I was so deliriously tired that I had to bite my lip to keep from laughing. I felt like a child that is not allowed to laugh, only making the situation so more funny. They must have thought I was crazy.
Finally, I made my way to customs. Their system involves pushing a button. If it alarms you get searched, if it doesn’t, then you don’t.
We all know that I won that contest.
Bolivia was incredible. But make sure you have a visa. Or at least enough cash.
Have you ever had a serious travel mishap? Let me know below!