Last Minute Lil
I think it’s obvious that I love to travel and talk about new places. Rightly you would assume I’m very organised and have it down to a fine art. You’d be wrong! I’m a complete disaster when it comes to going away. I’m last minute Lil every time.
This week, I thought I’d share one of my more epic moments (and there’s been plenty). In the hope it might help you out with being organised on your travels, and help me think more about mine. I’m not holding my breath on the second part!
I’d also like to highlight the benefit of group tours, as this was my first time, having always travelled independently.
Crossing the Bolivian border – spoiler alert it helps to have a passport
A few years ago I went on a 5 week G Adventure tour from Peru to Buenos Aires. It didn’t take long for the rest of the group to notice I was the one always leaving my jacket or bag behind (you know the type, there’s one on every trip).
Three weeks in we boarded our trusty G bus to head to the Bolivian border from Puno. Before we set off, our guide advised everyone to make sure they had their passports, which was a sensible instruction to make before crossing any border. Of course I had my passport, why wouldn’t I, I’m a seasoned traveller, it’s my key to unlocking all that travelling has to offer, I blissfully thought as I casually looked in my bag with the special passport section. My face flushed as red as the passport that wasn’t in there, and my stomach went strangely hollow. I searched everywhere twice. Each time I demanded that my bag spit out the passport, but it seemed to just shrug back at me looking as bemused as I felt. Looking at my fellow travellers they were convinced I was joking.
Aha I thought my suitcase under the bus, that’s the culprit that must have taken my passport. We pulled everything out, no joy. I felt so sick. This time I’d fucked up big time!
Our guide spoke with the G office who advised they would have to leave me behind but they arranged for a rep to meet me back at the hotel.
I can still see it so clearly! Sat on the pavement, with my two bags, slumped on the floor watching the bus pull away, and all my friends staring out the window with disbelief.
Back at my room I cried and cried. How would I get home? How do I get a passport? But more importantly I really wanted to cycle the infamous Death Road in La Paz.
In the midst of despair, the rep arrived, and we got on the case to find a solution. We headed to an agency to explain the situation and were advised I would need an emergency passport which I could get on Monday.... Monday??? It was only Friday! The tears began again and then I had an idea, possibly not a good one, but an idea nonetheless.
This poor rep really must have been gutted he got stuck with me, as I’d talked him into going to the border with me and seeing what we could do.
We boarded the public bus and sat quietly in our own worlds. My mind was focused on cycling that road. Think we can safely say the rep had very different thoughts!
I should add that our group guide throughout the tour was great at staying in constant contact to see if we had made any progress on finding my passport.
On arrival I spent a while yo yo-Ing between the Peruvian and Bolivian offices as I tried to persuade them to let me through. My tears were not working. A couple of Bolivian police men were watching with beady eyes as they could obviously see a desperate woman.
Beckoned over I approached with great hope. Explaining the situation through my translator, I was advised they would escort me across for $80. Hurrah my dreams were coming true! Looking at my guide with a crazed excited look I could see he thought this was a very unwise move. Crashing back down to earth the reality of what I wanted us to do sunk in.
Deflated we boarded the bus back to Puno and my rep explained that once across we could possibly have been arrested.
Back in my room I gave into the fact Puno would be my home until Monday. Or was it?
‘RING RING’ amazing news! My passport was found by a local family in the home stay where we spent the previous night and making its way to me. Hurrah!! I would be re-joining the group on Sunday.
If anyone told me they contemplated trying to cross a border illegally in South America for a bike tour, I would have said ‘what the hell are you doing?’ but that’s part of travelling for me... I lose all my sensible side.
What became of my border crossing?…
Arriving into La Paz with a beaming smile, and not a care in the world, I boarded a taxi. 15 minutes in my mind said, ‘am I missing something?’ no of course not. But there was a nagging feeling and then it hit. MY SUITCASE!! It’s still on the coach!!!! ‘Driver turn back’ (Told you I was bad)!
Frantically running through the bus station to gate 37 there it was sitting quietly waiting to be retrieved. The coach driver started to laugh on spotting me, as he must have wondered who on earth forgets their luggage? …me!
I can’t thank everyone enough at G Adventure for all their help and support and to our guide Renzo who managed to always find my stuff along the way. If you are looking for any worldwide tours then I would highly recommend them. 5* from start to finish.
The best bit, I ticked cycling the death road off my bucket list without falling off the cliff edge. Now that would have been a disaster!!