The bullshit borders of Argentina – Bermejo, Bolivia

Yay, border crossing day, we love those. Choosing Bermejo as the launching point into Argentina from Bolivia, the simplest way was to rock up to the bus terminal in Tarija and pay for a shared taxi. But first we walked to the nearest corner from hotel one last time for some of the tastiest saltenos known to mankind.  As in all the Americas it’s down to the terminal to see what the deal is with getting to the border.  With plenty of cars around it’s not much of a wait for the rest of the seats to fill.

Saltenas.  Bolivia.
The tastiest empanadas ever.

The taxi to Bermejo and the Argentina Border.
The taxi

Pumped that we’d been given the rear seats that only allows two to sit, a family of four are crammed into the remaining three seats in front and we’re off.  Still not able to escape people being sick in moving vehicles, Sarah unfortunately has one offender in front of her who lacks the decency to request a plastic bag, resulting in him pathetically attempting to vomit out the window with a good whack of it landing in Sarah’s face. Pissed off she gives him a proper serving (as you can imagine), the man can hardly mutter an apology and the driver issues him a handful of bags.  For some reason in all countries, requesting a bag is not often done by grown men…must be a sign of weakness, pussies.

Happy to be hitting the border with the two back seat to ourselves.
Happy days, for now

The vomiting offender.
The offender

Confusion when we arrive at the first border point has us dumped out early and crossing the river to the check point on foot. Promptly we’re turned back around as we have no Argentinian Pesos to pay for the taxi to immigration. Crossing back over the bridge it’s another taxi journey to the boat terminal located in Bermejo town, a small fee and we’re on the wooden ferry to Argentina. With patience a plenty we we joined the massive immigration queue, realising quickly we’d cocked up by arriving at three o’clock in the afternoon. Bermejo is a town whose sole economy is in the Argies coming over each day to buy various items such as shoes, clothes, blankets and all things pots and pans, which in turn creates long lines through the customs inspections on return.

The first attempt across the bridge.
The first attempt

The boat crossing to Argentina.
The boat crossing

The Border queue.
The Queue

Finally arriving 2 hours later to the immigration desk, exiting Bolivia is not a hassle, nor is entering Argentina, for Sarah anyways.  Matt is a dual citizen of Australia and the United Kingdom, giving him the opportunity of using both to his advantage, thus avoiding or minimising fees. Having researched the internet and various forums, the information found left no indication that changing at borders would be an issue (for Africa per say you must use only one passport when travelling overland).  Long story short, the mono-browed lady at the Argentinian border flicks through Matt’s passport several times and we know somethings up.  Obviously not experienced having foreigners crossing here (we were the only ones), she asks where the exit stamp for Bolivia is.

En mi otra pasaporte

Pretty much the conversation progresses with Matt requesting a superior and stating that his British passport is an official document and entry cannot be refused.  Sarah has paid the reciprocal fee and by now is having her baggage pulled apart by customs. Stubbornly and with the knowledge that he cannot be refused, Matt holds his ground a little longer just to wind up the lady, as it’s clear she’s not going to change her mind. She becomes frazzled, snapping at Matt to

Calm down!

Actually Matt couldn’t have been more relaxed if he tried.  She then jumps down Sarah’s throat when she refuses to proceed into Argentina alone, so when the armed guards start sniffing around we cut our losses and head back over to the Bolivian side.

Holing up for the night in the lovely little Hotel Pacho within the bustling market, with a comfortable double and single bed, Wi-Fi, hot showers and cable TV to boot, we dump our gear to have a beer on the roof terrace overlooking the river and that days unobtainable goal, Argentina.

Lapacho Hotel.
The courtyard

Argentina, so close yet so far.
The view from the rooftop with Argentina in the background

Thinking our dramas were over we still needed a place to organise and print the reciprocal fee for the following morning. You’d think internet cafes are everywhere, right? Wrong. A two hour wander, asking police officers, shop attendants and locals resulted in nada.  In need of a feed we google map searched the local plaza and headed up that way.  Three internet cafes and only one had a printer, thank F*#k for that!!!  The seemingly impossible had now become reality. Sorted.  Next was to fill the bellies and we end up in a pizza place for a Hawaiian that came with olives on top, fair enough, but the glazed cherries on top weird us out.

Hasta Manana Border Bitch.

Market town.
The main markets

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  1. Catch a shared taxi from Tarija, it’s cheap and convenient (3 hours) just be sure that they take you all the way to the Terminal de Barca (boat ferry) and not to the bridge crossing beforehand. This saves paying for an extra taxi ride on either side as we found out when we didn’t have Argentinian Peso to pay for the taxi. We had to walk back across the bridge and pay for a taxi to the Bolivian boat ferry terminal.
  2. You can leave the Bolivian border and enter Argentina with different passports. Matt has both a British and Australian passport.  Immigration at this border is located in the same building side by side.  The reason for Matt leaving Bolivia on his Australian to enter Argentina on his British is that there is a $100 US reciprocal fee on the Australian passport.  We were turned around after an hour long discussion ending in the lady becoming very rude and irate resulting in sending us back.  Matt has been in email discussions with Migraccion Argentina for the last 4 months with them acknowledging that you may interchange passports at the border.  He has now launched a formal complaint in the hope to recover the $100 along with the extra night’s accommodation.  IF YOU PLAN TO USE DIFFERENT PASSPORTS TO ENTER ARGENTINA then we suggest you get confirmation from Migraccion Argentina.
  3. Ferry across the river Bolivia – Argentina is 5 ARG Peso, coming back the opposite way is 10 ARG Pesos, go figure.
  4. Try to change any Bolivianos at the border as you will struggle in Argentina. Matt managed, who knows how (good looks perhaps) to get 2 Pesos for a Boliviano when the going rate on was 1.3.

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