The Culinary Tour Continues – Andean Edition

One thing I’ve noticed everywhere I’ve traveled, is that everyone eats food. It’s kind of crazy, but trust me it’s true. The Andean countries were no exception, as demonstrated below. Peru itself is an exception, in that its cuisine is rather exceptional, and thus deserves a separate upcoming post, fulfilling the Argentina role of the Andean nations.

Bolivia

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Anticuchos or beef hearts. Served with a portion of potatoes, they taste much better than they sound in fact. I think most cows would agree with me. Accompanied with fideos de aji (spicy noodles).

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Meat on a stick. It works in all countries (and makes for the perfect birthday meal!)

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This is where papa rellenos were introduced as a near daily item in our travel diet. Basically fried mashed potatoes stuffed with various items, I’m surprised this hasn’t taken off in America (imagine cheese & turkey bacon papa rellenos?? Apples and brie? Or for a healthy yuppie option, with kale with more kale?)

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Peach pit juice – for those who think the drinks in America just never had enough pits in them.

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Root beer cream(sicle) – heavy on the cream, really heavy on the cream.

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Normally eating up a llama would never cross my mind, but normally llamas do not cross my mind that often. This place served not only grilled to savory perfection llama steaks, but also llama chorizos. Part of a Sunday market eating tour, we were stuffed by the time we found this place at the end of the market, but the option of a whole plate full of variously prepared llama meats for $4 was too tantalizing to pass up (with no regrets – one of best meat dishes of the trip!).

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Deserts are king – chocolate covered strawberries and ubiquitous slices of moist birthday cake abound. The cake in particular became an internal hit, to the point where I began shaking most days around 5pm without it.

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The best afternoons were ones where I accomplished the Trifecta – the consumption of cake, jello, and sublime (a surprisingly delicious chocolate bar) in quick succession. I’d like to say those afternoons were rare, so I will (just know that I am lying). While the feeling of accomplishment immediately post-Trifecta was rewarding, how I felt 20 minutes afterwards is a different story . . .

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Albondigas plate, or meatballs with a bunch of side stuff, including tubers and purple corn. Typical dish, also seen with chorizo.

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Juices, juices, and more juices. Of all kinds, with milk or water. Not pictured here, but I had a peanut with milk one that went over pretty well with myself.

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Salteñas – a take on your typical empanada but with juice inside and a sweeter taste. They will explode hot liquid all over you if you are unaware of their contents, as we learned the hard way (thus going to a place with a plate & utensils for this one). Pretty decent, but prefer the less sweet ones.

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Charky is Bolivian beef jerky made from llama? Served with cheese here, it is delicious but incredibly salty, which is saying something coming from me. We were unable to finish this plate, which normally may be a decent thing as well-preserved as it may be. In this case it was not.

Ecuador

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A fried banana filled with cheese! A snack fit for the gods but made by a human – how could it be so? I am not one to question, so I’ll stop and just order another.

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Street meat is eat(en) meat. A combo platter for $4.

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The reign of papas rellenos continue, with a heavy focus on rice on the inside. These ones even come with an ever-handy spork.

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Shrimp ceviche, or more like shrimp soup. Sounds amazing, but we all know how I feel about soup (apparently me and Malfalda a like). Good attempt by Ecuador, but will take its southern neighbor’s version over it any day of the week (including the odd leap year Tuesday).

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Cheese tortillas! Anything with cheese wins, every time.

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I honestly don’t remember what this was. I was hoping you could tell me.

Colombia

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Papa rellenos for life!

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Completely artificial slushy, as I tried my best in Colombia to recreate the trifecta given less frequent jello sightings, inferior cake, and non-existent sublimes. Try as Colombia might, the deserts just don’t live up, but they do serve as a forceful way to detox back to a normal and healthy level of sugar.

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What Colombia lacks in the desert department, it does make up however in the fried chicken with artificial honey department. Likely just as insalubrious, the combo of fried chicken skin and chemically induced/factory produced honey is a winner in my book of food winners (2015 edition).

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Caldo de pollo, or basically chicken soup. Aghast, Christine is eating a meal with another brown man (while I film)! Notice that is also our last food photo . . . interpret as you will.

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Ruins, Ruins, and More Ruins!

Note: We’ve (or really I’ve) fallen quite behind in the blogging aspect of life recently, but will attempt to make up for it with a veritable modern-day literary blitzkrieg over the next few days. Stay tuned (or if I was you, don’t)!

At the start of this trip, I knew very little of pre-Columbia societies (as they are often referred to). We learn about the Aztecs, Mayans, and Incas in grade school, and also occasionally in the news when one of their calendars runs out, thereby inadvertently fulfilling many a doomsday prophecies. That’s about it though, the rest of the lands & history prior to 1492 is a large blank space deemed not worthy of fourth-grade American history textbooks.

Given this limited educational background, we did not expect to see too many ruins outside of the vaunted Machu Picchu. Part of the fun of traveling though, is to finding out what things 4th grade history books teach in other countries (the other part being to avoid the reality of a daily commute to an office-based environment as long as possible). (oh, and the other part is the food – as made clear here and here). (actually, there are probably other parts as well, such as discovering new dinosaurs, but I can’t name them all right now).

Rightly or wrongly, past civilizations are immortalized in the ruins of the structures they build, especially for societies that did not develop a writing system to record their history (even doubly so for those that did not have ability to edit their own Wikipedia pages). Thus we did not focus as much on pre-Columbian societies in the southern cone, simply because there did not exist much of anything to look at (we are that shallow). But by the time we rounded Bolivia and entered Peru, that completely changed. Peru in particular serves as a veritable cradle of civilization on the level of Mesopotamia, ancient Egypt, future Mars, and the like – just about every city has ruins in the vicinity that would otherwise be considered legendary if Machu Picchu did not exist, stemming from all sorts of different societies from all sorts of different time periods, extending back thousands of years.

The diversity of structures is staggering, even in societies located just kilometers from each other, ostensibly operating under the same environmental influences and limitations. Such was the case in the northern Peruvian deserts around Trujillo, where the Moches built two large pyramid structures or worship, while the Chan Chan just a few kilometers away (so close its just a 30 minute drive these days) constructed the largest adobe city known to man (or platypuses for that matter as well).

The crazy part is that so much is still being uncovered! Chooquequirao is a five-day treacherous hike that serves as an intrepid-man’s alternative to Machu Picchu – something we considered before wussing out once we heard that it will be a 15-minute cable car ride away within a few years time. The prospect of future discovery is so high that we met an Italian student who specifically came to Peru to pursue his Master’s degree in archaeology, given the high likelihood that he might be able to completely discover or study new aspects of the myriad of ancient civilizations that flourished here. A sort of archaeological wild west prospecting scene, if you will (please do).

Anyways, we were surprised by the abundance and quickly realized we couldn’t visit them all. A few of the more stunning non-Incan ones we were able to hit on the Bolivia to Colombia route, with the majority located in Peru, include:

The Moches

  • These northern Peruvians had such friendly decorated paintings (in addition to two large pyramids) that I’ve already inquired about copyrighting a new “Meet the Moches” sitcom, which will debut on ESPN 14.5 in the year 2023.
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decorated walls of one of the pyramids

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Meet the Moches!

Wari

  • Did you know the Incan Empire only lasted 100 years until the Spanish obliterated it with their Manchego cheese and siesta time? Kind of amazing that so much was built from Middle Chile all the way up to southern Colombia in such short a time span, but clearly the Incans also evolved from the success of others. The Waris were one of those, preceding the Incans in around 1100AD. The Incan Empire drew from Wari knowledge and building techniques, allowing the Wari to enjoy the unfortunate reality of being a mere footnote to the Incans in even the best of history books.
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Wari lands

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Chan Chan

  • These guys loved mud so much that they built an entire city out of it! Just a few kilometers down from the Moches, they Chan Chan are sure to have a recurring cameo in the ‘Meet the Moches’ sitcom.
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The quirky neighbor next door perhaps?

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Titicaca

  • On the highest lake in the world shared between Peru & Bolivia, many a cultures lived. The Incas were everywhere, including there and built some stuff on Isla del Sol (Island of the Sun).

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Huaca Pucllana

  • These people built a pyramid right in downtown Lima! Or rather, other people built a city right around the ruins of the Huaca Pucllana pyramid, dating back1,500 years ago.
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downtown Lima, just as the Haucas predicted it would be

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San Agustin

  • One of the more “fun” civilizations (I keep a detailed ranking list, with the Mongols being both simultaneously at the very bottom and top), these mysterious guys built tons of statues scattered around the verdant hills of southern Colombia in early AD’s and even BC’s. More tomb guardians are still being discovered, although no one really knows what happened to the people who made them – not even this bird man guy would talk.

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Of course, there are plenty of other seemingly amazing sights from hitherto unknown civilizations that we couldn’t visit – such as Ciudad Perida in Colombia and Kuelap in Peru (for some reason Ecuador was left off the non-Inca ruins-building surge found in its neighbors – but hey, that’s why they get the Galapagos). Always something for next time!

16 Reasons Bolivia is More Interesting Than Streaming Another Cat Video

There are a few guaranteed facts in this world. The Internet is a passing fad, a koala will never pay you back in full, and Bolivia is a darn interesting country. Not convinced and want further proof (at least on the last point)? Well I thought you’d never ask.

Number one: There is a lot of salt, and salt is delicious. It also apparently makes for great photos shoots.

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Numero dos: Coca leaves are everywhere, and even the Pope is all about them.

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Three: It is one of the few countries that views butterflies and guns as equals before the law, and thankfully prohibits both to ensure a just, fair society.

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Cuatro: There is always some sort of something, like a parade or festival, happening nearby you. Always.

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Sweet number five: Many women retain a unique style of traditional dress, replete with fancy hats that vary by region.

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They also apparently wrestle.

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Six: You can keep ñandú in your yard, or better yet two.

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Siete: Llamas are pretty revered, but not so much that you can’t cut them up, light up a grill, and put them on a plate. (In addition, the burial of their foetuses, openly sold in certain shops, make for handy ritual offerings).

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Nueve menos uno: You can try your hands in the mines, if you’re trip budget is exhausted and you need a few extra bucks.

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Nueve: Chocolate covered strawberries on a stick cost 44 cents. A slice of cake is even less, meaning you can get diabetes for pennies on the dollar.

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Number ten: Occasionally you might have trouble pooping, but there are remedies for that. On more frequent occasions, you will have the exact opposite (with no viable remedy in sight!).

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Numero once: June 23rd is San Juan Day, supposedly the coldest and shortest night of the year – and also when everyone gets together to specifically eat hot dogs. Apparently sometimes there is so much lingering smoke from the public bonfires the next day, that is it “impossible to go outside.”

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Twelve: Zebras have been tasked with regulating traffic, a job they perform dutifully.

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Unlucky thirteen: Apparently the high altitude turns Christine into an air hockey maven.

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Catorce: Cable cars are a normal means of daily transportation.

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Quince: Bolivian mannequins have personalities, and are often cooler than you or I.

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El Ultimo: Dinosaurs are everywhere – need I say more!

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The Trials and Tribulations of a Bolivian Visa

Visas can be a pain. The following is a not terribly exciting but more frustrating account of a multi-nation attempt to obtain one for Bolivia. 

I hate visas. Really, it’s one of my four most hated things on this planet, along with mosquitos, the Cowboys, and genocide (in that order). So before undertaking our trip, I did my research to ensure we (re: I) wouldn’t run into any issues. Luckily for Christine, her Brazilian passport absolves her of all such concerns, in addition to the financial burdens associated with the right to enter various South American nations.

Of the countries we were likely to visit, Argentina, Paraguay, and Bolivia required paperwork. Argentina was easy enough – I just had to pay a $160 ‘reciprocity fee’ online (most of the South American visas derive of a similar revenge motivation, in which high fees are imposed on US citizens who wish to enter, are in return for the increased fees the US imposed on their citizens entering America – can’t say I blame them honestly and the visas are multi-entry long term affairs, but it still occupies a healthy chunk of the trip budget).

Paraguay’s visa could not be arranged on arrival, so I took care of that one at the embassy in Washington D.C. prior to departing. That only left Bolivia. According to all the information received, the visa could be arranged ahead of time for $160, or on arrival at both land borders and airports for $135. There is always a greater sense of security in obtaining the visa ahead of time, knowing that you won’t be turned away from the country, so it is generally one of the few things I try to plan in advance when traveling (except in the case of West Africa, as the Shark Force Five can attest to). Especially at random land borders which can be subject to the whims of whoever is manning the border at that particular point, having the visa in advance gives you so much more leverage. But given that the paperwork at land borders can be significantly lighter than going through an embassy, and that the Bolivian visa was actually cheaper on arrival, it seemed a no brainer to worry about it later.

When we arrived in Asuncion, Paraguay, I started to change my tune a bit. I read on a blog one horror story of an American girl who was turned away at the border (though I couldn’t exactly figure out why), while others we met who had come from Bolivia did not put too much faith in officials working the border we wanted to cross. The main issue is that we were planning on crossing into Bolivia from Paraguay via the Trans-Chaco route, which is 24-30 hour bus ride across a sparsely inhabited and harsh area (dubbed the ‘Green Hell’ by the Mennonites who went to settle there in the early 20th century). There are no real major urban settlements and only one road (which is just paved on the Paraguay side). The schedule of the daily bus ensured we would arrive at the Bolivian border around 3am, and the prospect of being turned away because the official on duty was cranky at still being awake that late in the evening, and thus being forced to wait hours for the one daily bus all the way back to Asuncion, seemed perilous enough that a little extra effort now to avoid such potential issues seemed like a good idea.

Unfortunately we didn’t really have the time in Asuncion, so we resolved just to go ahead with the border process – it’d be an adventure at least, and that’s what we were here for. We headed out to the Chaco, spending a few days in and around the main “settlement” of Filadelfia. While there I thought it might be a good idea just to call the embassy to double check one more time (you can sense the unusual level of anxiety I have with regards to visas, can’t you?). This call happened to take place on 02 June. I called the Bolivian Embassy in Asuncion, and surprisingly they actually answered the phone (before I had to call the embassy in DC each time to get a response, since apparently other regional embassies or consulates obtained phone numbers without installing actual phones in their offices). Of course, this phone call may have saved me in one respect, but also gave us a whole lot more trouble. Apparently as of 01 May, the policy for US citizens had changed, and they were no longer able to obtain visas on arrival. Fortunately, however, there was a grace period of one month, meaning that US citizens could still get their visas all the way up to 01 June. Unfortunately, however, the aforementioned date of my call occurred on 02 June.

That call initially gave us little recourse but to return to Asuncion and spend 4-5 days taking care of the process. A bit dejected at the prospect, I began to search around for alternatives. We had really wanted to cross from Paraguay to Bolivia as it’s an infrequently traveled land route (perhaps for a reason). But I discovered that in northern Argentina alone, there were four Bolivian consulates, given the number of Bolivians who migrate for work in their more prosperous southern neighbor. A quick call to the embassy in DC, given that those consulates and other regional embassies reverted back to their practice of brain cancer prevention by avoiding phones, confirmed that consulates would be able to issue visas as well. We kept calling around some more and the consulate in Jujuy finally answered the phone. The man on the other end had no idea if his consulate wielded such visa-issuing power, but he asked someone else who confirmed what the DC embassy had already confirmed (for visa issues, I seek double confirmation!). That meant no more Asuncion, we were headed to northern Argentina!

There are really worse places to be stuck trying to get a visa, but we hadn’t planned on visiting the northwest of Argentina, so we tried to spend as little time as possible on the actual particulars of obtaining the visa. We arrived in Salta, where there was a consulate, a bit after 9am. Quickly dropping off our bags, we found an Internet café where I could print all my documents and ran over to the consulate, getting there at 10:30am (not bad considering 14 hours prior we were far away in the town of Resistencia, waiting over two hours for our bus to arrive after suffering a mechanical problem, which also caused it to break down once during the overnight journey).

My biggest concern was that the consulate was for some reason going to say it didn’t have the power to issue the visa, and we’d have to take a long road to embassy in Buenos Aires. As we ran over, I was nervously envisioning such scenarios, and anticipating what our next move could be in the forever legendary chess match that had become me versus a Bolivian visa.

Arriving at the consulate, there was no one else there – good, no line. We went up to the front desk and I explained that I wanted to apply for a visa, with bated breath. The man at the desk said, and I quote, ”ok.” I was elated, all of this would end today! But then he asked which country, to which I replied the United States. This was not a problem (still elated!) usually, but . . . [translated via broken Spanish] “we have run out of the stickers.”

What?? The consulate literally did not possess any of the actual stickers to put in the passport signifying a visa, though just for US citizens of course. In all the doomsday scenarios I had envisioned in my head on the way to the consulate, this one did not even remotely not cross my mind. I asked if one might still be able to get the visa at the border, given the recent change in policy, but this individual could not answer either way – he literally did not even know his country’s visa policies (which made me start to think perhaps the real reason they ran out of stickers was because he had appropriated for his competitive sticker collection, he seemed like the type)

At a loss of what to do, I remembered there was a consulate in the town of Jujuy, about two hours north. I asked if they would be in possession of these precious stickers – “yea, they might.” Might, could you call your colleagues to inquire? No, he gave us the number and recommended we called instead. At the very least he could give us the address of the Jujuy consulate since it was clear at this point we were just going to have to go in person and try our luck. He debated with another consulate worker to ensure we got the “correct” new address, the only of our incredibly complex requests to which he was able to fulfill (somewhat – a little bit of foreshadowing here).

So we were going to have to go to Jujuy, which wasn’t such a bad situation as it was on the way to Tilcara, a pretty town we were planning on spending a night before heading to northern Chile. But really, all because of a lack of stickers?? (I even offered to let him use my own collection of Hello Kitty stickers circa 1989 that I always travel with, but he insisted they were not yellow enough).

It was a Monday, and we figured it’d be best to leave tomorrow and try to take care of this visa situation as quickly as possible, since we had a bus ticket to Chile for Friday morning. We went down to the terminal in Salta to buy our bus pass in advance for early tomorrow, so we could still get to the consulate to allow for plenty of visa waiting time before it closed around 11:30.

We found plenty of buses that go north of Salta along the route to Jujuy, with some leaving early enough in the morning. This would be pretty easy logistically, as according to Google Maps the Bolivian consulate was a convenient 11 minute walk from the bus station. However, it was odd that each time we actually tried to buy a ticket, the attendants said they weren’t going tomorrow. That was fine as there were plenty of companies, so we kept asking each one and kept getting the same response. Finally, frustrated, I asked one of them why not – he politely explained to me what was apparently obvious to him and everyone else in this country already – there was a nation-wide 24-hour transport strike in Argentina, that just so happened to be scheduled for tomorrow.

24-hour transport strike . . .

24-hour transport strike . . .

Fitting, with all transport halted (and routes likely to be blocked by protestors even if you took a private vehicle we were told), there was no way to get to the consulate in Jujuy tomorrow, another day wasted in what was quickly becoming an extraordinarily elusive Bolivian visa hunt. We waited out the transport strike on Tuesday in Salta, and arrived in Jujuy early Wednesday morning instead. Again, not a huge deal as it still left us some time, but these comical obstacles were mounting up.

Of course though, upon arrival in Jujuy on Wednesday morning, we discovered the bus terminal was nowhere near the consulate as Google Maps had promised. The terminal itself was actually a few kilometers out of town. Our bus was a bit later than expected, so we got to Jujuy after 10:00. We needed to make it to the consulate before 11:30, so eschewing normal procedure, we jumped in a cab rather than take a public bus. Of course (sense a theme here?) we hit serious bumper-to-bumper traffic, to which our cab driver expressed much chagrin, as in all his years driving around this town there was never a traffic jam at 10:30am. Turns out the main road was blocked by some (non-transport) protestors, who for reasons still not determined, had gathered around this one fancy-looking house that was heavily guarded by police folk. It looked like an intense stand-off, with many of the protestors waving signs with imprints of Che Guvera on them, but we didn’t have time in investigate. Going anywhere in a cab at this point was futile – we jumped out and decided to run past the protestors to the consulate instead.

At this point, I was convinced there was a higher power at work that so desperately did not want me to visit Bolivia. Perhaps it was for my own good, or perhaps Bolivia just wasn’t ready for me. Either way, there was no way this entire series of events could be just mere coincidence.

The house of the protestors, post-protest

The house of the protestors, post-protest

It was about a 15-minute jog across the town of Jujuy, which is actually quite pleasing to the eye. At any rate, we made it to the address given to us by the consulate in Salta. When we had showed that address to our cab driver and told him we needed to get to the Bolivian consulate, he said he thought it had moved a few blocks away. I normally trust cab drivers since it is their profession to know where things are located, but we had just received this address yesterday, and I foolishly believed that the incompetence of the Salta consulate would not extend to such basics like knowing where its sister office two hours away is located.

Getting frustrated in Jujuy!

Getting frustrated amongst the lovely backdrop of Jujuy!

We arrived at the given address, and it was a broken, seemingly abandoned building, with the outside gate locked. The door 20 feet in front of us was cracked ajar slightly, so we yelled out, with nary a response. This clearly was not the consulate. Thank goodness that our cab driver had been well informed (we got something out of paying him to drive us barely anywhere) – so we scoured around the next few blocks looking for a Bolivian flag. Luckily we found one without too much trouble, just two blocks over and up. But I was again left wondering, what exactly is going on with the Bolivian consulate in Salta?

No matter, we made it. It was about 11:00 now, so we were cutting it close especially since there was a line, but we were officially in the building before close. Smooth sailing from here I figured. Our documents were reviewed by a man sitting at a desk in the waiting area, who instructed us to wait for his female colleague in an office next door. I figured she would be the one to issue the visa, so I began to relax a bit.

We waited about half an hour while she dealt with some others, before calling us in. We tried to sweet talk here about Bolivia and our plans to visit her beautiful country (stressing the beauty part and leaving politics aside), which I think worked to a degree. She seemed genuinely interested in our travel plans, even putting in a plug for her hometown. A young, fashionable lady in her mid-30s, she explained that she was a traveler herself and recounted some of her own journeys in South America, establishing that she understood our frame of mind. Eventually she said everything was in order, and I thought she was on the verge of issuing the visa (we had made sure she had stickers in her possession!). Buuuuut there was one little problem – she actually didn’t have the authority to issue visas, and the vice-counsel had randomly left this morning and didn’t tell her when she was coming back.

No big deal, we can wait her out I said. So we returned to waiting area, hoping this main lady would return from wherever she was soon. We got hungry, so Christine went out to search for empanadas around 12:30. The consulate actually closed at 1:30 instead of 11:30, so that gave us some more time. Around 1:10, the fashionable lady came back over explained that the vice counsel was probably not returning, so we would have to wait until tomorrow for the visa. We had been on good terms with her, so I politely said that wasn’t going to work as we were leaving for Chile tomorrow (emphatically despite my complete lack of leverage in this case), and tried to push her for action by reminding her that we had been trying since Monday to get this visa (given the sticker incident in Salta, the transport strike, and now the mysterious and unexplained absence of the vice-counsel during the already abridged working hours of the consulate).

I think she truly felt bad for us, but explained there wasn’t really anything she could do. I hoped to guilt her into calling her boss by explaining our situation over and over, but did not overtly make such a request, as it seemed clear that she was not in a position to question her superior. I finally said it was fine, it wasn’t quite 1:30 yet, so we could wait in the small hope that the vice-counsel would somehow materialize in the next twenty minutes. I think our resolve surprised her somewhat, and she retreated into her office. A few minutes later we heard her talking on the phone. Lo and behold, just before 1:30 the vice-counsel lady strode in, and the fashionable lady greeted her immediately with my visa application.

They talked it over themselves and then approached me. The vice counsel lady said it was normally at least a 24-hour process to issue the visa, but they would make an exception in this case, and I could pick it up at 4:30 this afternoon. I couldn’t believe it, it was really happening! While we were waiting I had began stewing internally a bit, and decided if I did not get my visa today after so much effort, Bolivia was going on my blacklist of countries (of which India currently is the only one, having been denied a visa there previously). While Bolivia may not have be fully aware of existence or even the ramifications my list, as the fate of India since 2005 can attest, no country should want to be on the list. Teetering so close to the edge, Bolivia was saved by the timely intervention one of their saintliest citizens, who clearly called her boss in defiance of local customs, and told her to come back to work for us.

We came back at 4:30, I gave them $160, and they gave me a visa. It was legit, with a (non-Hello Kitty) sticker and everything. We thanked them, especially the fashionable young fellow traveler lady profusely, for without her I probably would’ve given up on the country in anger. It was about two weeks of a classic chase in the making, replete with some very random circumstances, but I got me a Bolivian visa!

Got the visa!

Got the visa!

It really worked out in the long-run, as the abrupt change in policy for US citizens “forced” us to forgo what promised to be an awful 30-hour bus ride across the Chaco and spend a few days in Northern Argentina instead. Without such an outcome, I would’ve never seen this:

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Post script: Of course, all of this was for naught. Despite the Bolivian Embassies in Washington D.C. and Asuncion informing me that it was no longer possible to obtain a visa at the border, that proved not to be true at all. At least in northern Chile, where many tour agencies operator cross-border excursion from northern Chile to the stunning salt flats of Bolivia, I could’ve definitely obtained a visa at this shack. Just goes to show you, when it comes to visas, no one really knows what they are doing (myself included)!

Bolivian immigration at the Chilean border by Uyuni

Bolivian immigration at the Chilean border by Uyuni