Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Accidentally left Bolivia for Argentina perhaps a blessing

After one of the best days we've have had in Bolivia, we had our breakfast in the salar and with the advise of yet another Bolivian, left Uyuni for Tarija via Tupiza. It didn't pan out that well because the road to Tupiza was so bad that half way we got another flat but this time tire was unrepairable. We continued cautiously and hoping to make it Tupiza without having to test a can of tire foam pump that I have had for 10 years (hope they don't expire). We made it Tupiza without trouble but the town had no tire that would fit the van. It was getting late and we decide to spend the night.

nice views on this dirt road
but a little too much dirt road for us

tunnel in Bolivia just enough space for one

Next morning we would take the road south almost near the boarder of Argentina for the road to Tarija. As we headed south surprise to us both the road was mostly paved only detours on the bridge sections. I didn't see any signs or anything that would resemble a road turning for Tarija and we arrived at Villazon the boarder town. I asked Ji, "did you see the road to Tarija?" she replied "I think I saw it but it was dirt road" I am thinking to myself "forget that another dirt road and plus I didn't even notice a turn off, we don't want to take it" So Argentina it is! At the Bolivian boarder we tried to bribe a young gas attendant to fill up our van with cheap Bolivian gas, she finally agreed after 10 minutes of back and forth talk, I offered $5 bucks for her trouble.
boarder the only one before guards told us to stop taking photos
At the actual crossing it was packed with people crossing into Argentina, so we quickly joined the line and waited about hour to get our passports stamped, next the car papers across the street took pretty fast we handed in our Bolivian permission and walked next door for our Argentina ones. We have read everywhere online you need auto insurance to enter Argentina, and the guy doing our paper work asked us for it, we told him we didn't have it and wanted to buy it, he quickly got on the phone and got us an address and number where to buy in La Quiaca, the Argentina boarder town. We got lucky I think because of the timing just before their lunch break and I guess he wanted to process us quickly and he let us enter with auto insurance.

Buying insurance was an adventure in itself in this town of La Quiaca. We got to the office the aduna agent gave us at about 12:30 and they were on lunch The address the aduna agent gave us, after waiting around till 1:30 we asked people around when will they reopen they replied maybe 5 or 6. OMG that late. (Welcome to Argentina where siesta break is half the day) with no sign stating hours, we weren't sure this guy would even return so I asked a local lady going into the office next door if she knew when this office would reopen she told us don't wait here, there's another place where they sell insurance all day you just knock on the door and they will come out. She us good directions and we found the place very easy. This office was a half finished wreck of a home with an office. Outside there was another local couple waiting to buy insurance too, they knocked on the door and a old lady came out and told us they are coming back. After 15 minutes the locals left and we waited another 20 minutes and another old lady off the street holding a baby opens the office door so I quickly follow. She tells me they don't sell insurance to foreigners I told her please try. She than searches for the on switch for the computer so I showed her how and the PC boots up she begins filling in the form on computer after sending it off  she gets a no accept reply back, obvious to me the numbers for my passport are not the same as local ID #, I gave up on trying to explain to her and went back to the first office. 2:30 now and we ask a local couple on the street if they could call the number the Aduna office gave me, and they told me they don't sell to foreigners either. The couple the help me call gave us another office to ask in town so we left looking for this place and 30 minutes of searching we could find it. Finally getting frustrated we went to the police station asking where to buy auto insurance thinking they would know since they enforce the law to have the stuff but no luck they had no clue where a foreigner could buy insurance.

first office we visited on a 5 hr lunch break
disappointed again
4th times a charm
Jieun, had remembered reading online where to buy insurance in that small town so we headed to an internet cafe and got the info from the blog she follows of a young Korean couple that had just finished their own trip down south.  There was no address they had a street number of 189 and 190 and a photo of the door that sold them insurance. So a little help but not enough so we asked a taxi driver and he pointed us to a street that we could buy and sure enough at 189 had an office door with a tinny sign saying they sell insurance. We knocked door 190 because to Korean couple wrote thats where the owner lives, when they knocked he helped them. So I bang on the door and a man came out and told me at 4:30 they reopen, its 3:00 so I told him, we will wait. We see this man walking in and out of the home a few times and each time he looks at us knowing we are waiting and Ji and I are both thinking why doesn't he just sell us the stuff so we can be on our way. 5:00 and still he hasn't open his door and just as I going to kick in his office door an old man in bicycle rolls up and opens the door, I guess the guy next door doesn't work here. We tell this old man we need auto insurance and expecting to pay about 15 maybe 20 bucks a month he tell us that only one company sells to foreigners now Liderar seguros which was the same as the old lady at the wreck house and now cost $50 usd a month. We bought 3 months it took about 15 minutes for all the paper work and got out as fast as we could heading south for Tilcara.

For anyone interested the address is 189 Ave Espana.