Well, my time here in Puno is coming to a close and as we realize we only have a few short, busy weeks left, we are frantically trying to squeeze as much in as possible. That being said, Franci, Chad, Garren and I decided to take our chances at crossing the border to Bolivia on Monday. We have heard over and over that North Americans must pay $135 just to cross the border into Bolivia. Therefore, for the past year and a half, we haven’t even attempted to visit the county only 2-3 hours away from our “home” here. But, recently, we were told that we could pass the border through the border town, Yunguyo, without paying like if we were to pass through the more well known, Desaguadero.
I’m pretty sure this job already requires an adventurous spirit! But we are always looking for some more adventure so the four of us got up early on Monday morning, hopped on a combi for a two hour drive to Yunguyo. We arrived to Yunguyo and it was cold. Seriously, it was rain/snowing and windy, burrr. After a quick bathroom trip for us girls, we asked around and found out we needed a taxi for the five minute drive to the border. Piling in the taxi, we rode to the border. Not knowing what was going to happen, unsure of anything really, we started walking up the hill out of Peru. We got to the top of the hill, and saw a sign that said “Welcome to Bolivia”, in Spanish of course. Shivering and trembling, we stopped to snap a few pictures. Still unaware, we just kept on walking, following our fearless leader, Garren, we walked right through the fence that says “stop”, in English, oddly enough. We walked through like we owned the place and nobody said a thing, just like that, we were in Bolivia!
Right there waiting for passengers was a combi headed to Copacabana, our destination. Riding on the combi we laughed at the easiness of our entrry, no questions, no passports, nothing. We had the whole day ahead of us to explore Copacabana and we were pumped. Too bad it was drizzly, cloudy and cold. Despite the weather, we arrived in Copacabana, changed some Peruvian soles to Bolivian bolivianos. We walked to the docks, checked out some tourist shops, went to the plaza, checked out the Catholic church, paid to climb a hill and see the Inca Gallows, ate lunch in the market and ate fried street food. That was just in the morning! Then, in the afternoon, we got on a boat and rode the hour and a half journey to the Isla del Sol (Sun Island). There, we paid again, to climb up stairs and explore the island a tiny bit. We only had an hour on the island but we made the best of our time before we had to get back on the boat and head inland.
We got back to Copacabana, bought souvenirs, got a taxi back to the border and walked back into Peru. As we were walking back into Peru, a guy from the immigrations office came out yelling at us, trying to get our attention. I looked at Chad and Garren and we just kept walking, pretending like we didn’t hear him yelling. We tried to get a taxi but before we could, he caught up to us and told us we had to check in first. We went into the immigration office and Franci did all the talking. And let me just say, I love Franci and her adventurous spirit. She truly does love a good adventure as long as she doesn’t get wet and isn’t in danger. Anyway, we showed the guy our residency cards and he said we should have stopped in the office in the morning before leaving the country. We had no idea! He was not happy with us but there was nothing he could do, he just told us that next time we have to go through immigrations first. After Franci asked what could be the dumbest question in the world, “Do they have to pay anything now?”, the guy let us go without making us pay anything and without any further questions.
So we made it to Bolivia and back. I’m pretty sure we were there illegally, but, who cares, we had an awesome adventure and got to see another country, if only from sunrise to sunset.