Monday, February 25, 2008

Aren't borders a bitch?

Ok kids, so its been a while since anything was posted on this fine cyber journal of ours and there are two reasons for this - a) the amount of incredible fun we are currently having and b) the amount of fuck ups there's been with border patrol! I don't even know where to start! So from Foz we travelled accross the border from Brasil to Paraguay, which turned out to be more trouble than it was worth. I decided to accidentally throw out my exit card as I thought it was a meaningless piece of paper, later finding out that it was very important in order to cross the border. I was told I had to pay a fine of US$80 at a Bank of Brasil, after collecting an immigration form from the border. However, it just so happens that all the banks are closed. So at the border I'm told I can pay once I get into Paraguay. However, turns out that for some unknown reason, the bank is closed at 2:30pm on a Friday...go figure! So I get to the border to go back into Brasil from Paraguay, without an exit stamp, hoping to bribe them with US dollars in order to let me back in (as advised by our tour leader!). To my surprise, the immigration officer goes through my passport without noticing that I am missing this stamp, and grants me re-entry into the country! By this stage I'm so excited as it means I don't have to stay back another night without the group to wait until the banks open! But THEN I find out that all the visas I went through friggin hell to obtain about 4 months ago, didn't need to be obtained. Apparently British citizens may pass through South American countries without any Visas, and just my luck - I have a friggin British passport! Thanks British consulate in Australia for advising me of this useful fact!

But anyway, made it to Paraguay - which is poor and beautiful and cultural and full of sangria and other wonderful things! Jem bought a state of the art camera for US$200 and we spent most of the time playing drinking games and peircing ears.

Then back into Brasil to Bonito, where we went to a great set of caves with stalegmite/tites and a bright blue pool at the bottom which was pretty amazing!

We then travelled to the Pantanal, the world's largest wetlands where we rode horses through the water, went hiking to see wild blue mackaws (amazing! pictures coming soon I promise!) monkeys, aligator type things they call camens, and all sorts of other wildlife! Our hotel was amazing, right next to a fast flowing river full of camens and pirhanas! We watched the eclipse from the hotel which was pretty cool, only visible in South America.

We then travelled to Corumba, I can't actually remember what we did there.....I'll get back to you on that! And then Santa Cruz where we stayed in a pretty fancy hotel with a queen bed each, pool, etc and lived the life of riley there. Had a great Bolivian dinner there, very meaty, but nice and pretended it was Jem's birthday and that her name was Shiela so she got a bunch of Bolivian guys with guitars singing feliz compleanos to her and bestowing her with copious amounts of flan! We have a rule on this tour, everyone's birth date applies to every month, so everywhere we go there's a birthday where we may utilise the compliments of the local staff! Great way to embarrass someone and get free stuff at the same time - we're just screwed if they ask for ID!

So now we're in Sucre, a charming town 2700m in Bolivia. I went horse riding today in the mountains to a set of cascades where we swam in fresh pools and Jem went on a city tour and bought large amounts of jewellery and other knick knacks! The altitude isn't too bad yet, I was very out of breath today walking up a small hill but not sure if that's just my fitness levels or not! We go to Patossi tomorrow, famous for its silver mines which we get to go into, its 4000m high so lets see how the body copes then!

Until then amigos!


Baino said...

Haha nice to hear from you in the country where internet is pathetic. Miss little bits. Picking up Sadam Insane today and the Fringelet so tidiness is out the window. Watch your asthma! Sounds like you're having a blast. Love you much - am I the only one that reads your blog? Keep it up chicky babes, love to Jem.

Anonymous said...

I just came across your blog while I searched for "lost exit cards" because I had the exact same thing happen to me last week as I was trying to leave brazil! NO ONE at any point tells you that this little piece of paper that could easily be mistaken for a taxicab receipt needs to be kept as guarded as your passport! The women who were at that immigration both were really really mean and they made me wait about an hour before letting me go. I say we file a complaint!

Clare & Jem's Excellent Adventures said...

Wow, only just seen this comment. I really should get on that email alert thingy! Yeah, we could file a complaint but the paperwork would take 100 years and even then they wouldn't be bothered doing anything about it. Its just easier to bribe them. $20US is very attractive to border guards!

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