My last post in South America.....hopefully for now at any rate.
We are in airport departure lounge which is crap really. Its got nothing so stay outside as long as possible. Just round to the left side of the airport (facing out the doors) is a nice cafe on the other side of the road. You will be amazed to know it was only 5000COL for a soup and main dinner. Thats only £1.70 and it includes a drink. The cheapest so far in Colombia and I'm stuffed full on meatballs ! Got o where the taxis are and turn left, its on the other side of the road.
We managed to get Kelly on the counter to make us a dummy reservation to San Jose in Costa Rica. She advised not to show it unless asked and not to show the bus ticket at all. They might ask, they might not. Our experience is that the airlines are more difficult than immigration so I do not think we will have a problem. Henning is currently finding it difficult to refund his Avianca ticket. We are on Copa and what I can say for sure is tickets bought on Copa are only refundable in/on the palce you bought them. Online refunded online and ones purchased at an office refunded in the SAME office. You have been warned as its easy to miss it in the terms.
Matilda is on the boat. We had a small issue as it turns out the car was booked to Panama City for delivery to the door. However we soon got this corrected. The agent in Panama is excellent. They've got us a taxi from the airport,,, and a hotel. Now thats service.
Review on the entire thing when we have the car. Should be Monday we hope. The hotel in Panama isn't cheap. Better to stay in Car
No sure what to say here. We went, we "bathed?", we washed. We enjoyed it. It was 50,000COL each which included dinner. I've always wanted to go to one and now I have. Its an experience.
I performed some other checks for a quarter pounder and horse meat....turns out its a double quarter pounder and hung like a horse......(check out the facebook page if this confuses you)
Not sure what fish it was or what the birds are.....
A bit of info on shipping and a bit of info on air tickets.....AGAIN !
A bit more info on the menu of the day...I forgot to say it was soup, main course and drink all for the price. I know some of my family will now likely be booking a plane ticket here,,,,, to stay forever. If there's ever a true Yorkshire-man its my Uncle Roger. He does like a bargain. It must be genetics as its in my blood also.
So for those of you shipping from here we paid today and the port costs came in slightly under 700,000 at 652,350COL.
I should also say only ONE person (and that's the owner) is allowed into the port to do the loading. Some other overlanders need to know this info. This is quite important as it a royal pain in the arse. Julie and I normally look after all paperwork and loading together. Its not a very exciting place to wait for those not doing the loading.....However there is a small restaurant but no air-con!
Airline tickets. You know about the not allowed to fly without a return ticket thing. Well,,,Panama enforce this. Immigration enforce it and so do the airline. So we got an onward ticket to Costa Rica (on a bus) for $80usd and they won't accept it. The system confirms this. I read it wrong. SHIT ! $80usd down the drain. So we go to the ticket office and check. They say "NO" you need a return/onward ticket. So we go to the airport to see the supervisor. Luckily they say they can make us a reservation and this is enough. They understand its silly and they will help us out. GREAT !!! However we did have to show them the bus ticket and possibly they would not have offered to do the reservation if we hadn't got the bus tickets. The bus tickets were purchased by Henning and he Emailed us a scan. You can't buy them here ! So if you are do the same trip as us you need to figure out another way to get the airline to do a reservation and satisfy 1) the airline you are leaving Panama 2) Panama Immigration that you will leave Panama.
For those that say they've never had this trouble and its all bull etc. etc. This is now the THIRD time we've been told we cannot fly ! That's 100% of the times we've flown !!!!
Some shots of our wander round Cartagena and some of our lunch. Its amazing what 9000COL gets you. Soup and main course and a drink. This is £3.04p which is amazing really. Its been cheaper in other countries but we took no photos. The lunch today was great and also the evening snack. If you come to the hotel we've mentioned then the bar down the road opposite the Hotel Andreas near (next door) to the bathroom shop is only 2000 for a beer (its 1800COL in the supermarket) and the cafe next door (other side to bathroom shop) make the best Hot Dogs in the world. At least the best I've ever had! For 7000COL they do a Chorizo Hot Dog and onions and have a wide selection of sauces. The Bar is called El Barathon we think.
Cartagena is a great place. Out of all the places we've been its the closest to being a place we'd stay. This is weird....its Colombia !
According to the FCO there's only 9500 British come here each year. Why is that? Probably the amazing revue they give it on the FCO web site. Drug lords and kidnappings aside there seems to be none of that in Cartagena. I've also wanted for a long time to go to a mud baths.....wheres one of the best in the world? Right here.....watch this space.
Some photos of where we are staying in Cartagena. You may note there is a car park in front and its big enough for Land Rover or medium truck. The Hotel is 70,000 or $37usd. Its got cable TV, Air-con and Wi-Fi. The rooms are cleaned properly and although its slightly noisy its fine. We are going to be here in total two weeks. There's no food provided.
There's a photo of the item the narcotics agent was most "interested" in. As you might note its "tip-ex correction mouse". The handling agent Martha was also interested in what it was. After a demonstration the narcotics agent was happy and Martha wanted one. After I explained it was Julies and I would ask her Martha was happy. Later Julie donated the item and Martha was very happy.
There's also a few GS's in one of the hotels....maybe 100 of them. Mostly 1200's and all Colombian.
Today we loaded Matilda in a container. Many hours were wasted. We arrived at 9am at the terminal and didn't leave till about 5pm. Two hours were taken for them to make a mess inspecting all our belongings. Only I (not Julie) was allowed into the port so our normal policy of one door open at a time was not followed. They wanted the entire contents of the car on the floor. They even wanted the roof boxes removed. I told them to get stuffed. Needless to say they didn't find my 10kg of Heroin. Probably because there isn't any !!!! (I should correct that to cocaine as that what they grow here) It would however have been easy to get some through. They need an X-Ray machine not a guy looking in boxes. No wonder the North is flooded with drugs. They cannot possibly expect to get even 50% this way. So as the USA department in charge of this type of thing is reading my blog (using PRISM) they should follow the Spanish way and buy their neighbors a scanner to stop them getting the drug due to poor inspections.
Anyhow....the delay was the container rental company buggering up the paperwork and then having lunch for two hours. The agent was OK I suppose but it does really fall on them to make sure everything is set up before we get to the terminal. It seemed nothing was set up. We were not impressed. They did however strap and chock Matilda as I had requested and got me a drink when I was about to pass out from heat and stress.
At one point early on I didn't even think I was going to get in the terminal. They (terminal) wanted me to leave the car and keys. I of course said "no way !". Did they actually think they could load the car? I have to deflate tires and disconnect the batteries. Do they even know where the battery is on a a Land Rover?
Until very late on in the day I didn't even know if the terminal knew where the car was going....again not impressed with the flow of info from the Spanish speaking agent. They need someone to speak English to help them out and this could be a trainee dedicated to dealing with the massive amount of overlanders that could come their way now the other agent has pulled out. All that said its mainly a language thing and they have so far fulfilled their duties correctly. Mainly....
Julie waited (outside) all day in the searing heat. I at least got to go into an Air-conditioned office for some of the day but I waited doing nothing from 9am until 2pm (when they'd finished lunch!!!). Nobody told me what was happening or how long it could be until about 1:50pm.
We paid 40,000 for lashing and 350,000 for the container. Port fees should be about 700,000 and the agents fees are 380,000. At the other end we are told its about $1000USD for "ALL" charges in Panama. (full costs when we know exactly).
So about $1800 in all. That's if the Panama charges are correct. The flights are another $1000USD for the return ticket we don't want. Its not cheap this Overlanding...actually its the Overwatering that's costly.
Today we went to the shipping agent to complete some paperwork and pay some money. At the moment we aren't filled with confidence that they are 100% used to shipping overlanders. They don't speak a work of English but we are managing via Google translate. Luckily they have Wi-Fi on the office so we can have a limited conversation. Once we are in Panama with our car we will post a detailed report of what we did, who they are and what everything costs. We are holding off posting incomplete info just in case the Agents mess it all up. We are also expected to report on this to the recommended Agents who will no longer do overlanders as it was they who passed us on. They asked us to do this. If they do a good job we will certainly recommend them. At the moment the costs are as expected.
Today we went to Burger King for a quick lunch on the way to the agent. I noticed a sign on the till that said if they don't give you a receipt that your entire order is free. Of course I waited until I had my order and then notified them that I had not received a receipt. After a bit of an argument which neither side understood. I was refunded my money. Makes a Yorkshire-man very happy to have a lunch for free.....even if I had to argue the point. Why have a sign if it means nothing. I've said it before, rules are made to be followed and if the people who make them don't actually want you to follow them they they can just remove them. Normally policy's and rules are left in place for ever.....when did McDonald's formally notify us all that free re-fills were gone....they had lovely adverts to tell us they give free re-fills at the start......sometime later it ended. Nobody told me. At least not in a TV advert or any sort of sign/poster.
Henning is in Panama with his bike after flying there. He also flew the bike. I wish we could fly Matilda. You must have at least $500USD to get in and a return/onward ticket. These are the rules among others. Silly airline rules blaming Immigration.
If only it was this simple....
Time again for finding a shipping company to take us across and area where we are not allowed to go. This is the way of things. We need to ship over the Darien Gap and possibly past a country that won't let us drive through. We might be shipping to Mexico due to the rules in Nicaragua. We cannot confirm the law in Nicaragua as our Envoy there isn't answering emails. This is also the way of things. We never get real help from the British Embassies although the lady in Chile did answer a few questions. I'm not impressed with what they do at all. They only open a few hours a week and don't answer the phone or Emails.
We are staying in a Hotel in Cartagena until we can find an shipping agent so we're again spending money we don't want to spend.
Last night we stayed in a Mobil/Esso station over the oil drain pit. Armed guard watching and a little cafe where we could eat. Problem was in the morning we needed to move at 7:15am for two lorries to do an oil change.
All the people were great and the garage staff were fantastic.
Some photos of Rusty and Laura's Land Rover V8i their lovely children and also our visit to the Hot Springs.
Last nights camping spot over the drain pit at the fuel station.
Last night we stayed for free with an lovely Australian man at his Garden Nursery. He's got quite a huge plot of land near Ibarra, Ecuador and sells thousands of plants wholesale style. He has a nice spot to park up and a kitchen and shower. He even has rooms if you're on a motorbike.
If you want to stay there just send him an Email to make sure he's around. His Email is gkersy at hotmail . c o m
The GPS point is below (you can look at where it is on BING MAPS, not Google) N 00 18.416 W 078 07.918
He mentioned he likes visitors ! Its a good place to stay and then cross to Columbia the next day. His place to Pasto in Columbia is easily done in a day. Even if you take hours to cross and spent over an hour buying insurance !!
We'd like to say thanks to Rusty, Laura and their lovely family for looking after us,,,, for a week !!! in Quito. THANKS !!!!
We've arrived in Columbia and we are staying in the Hotel Chambu in Pasto. They have a nice garage with 2.6 meter door. So if you need a hotel because you feel like you're going to be murdered due to the FCO reports then this is the place.
More on the spider when i upload the photos tomorrow.
There I was going under the car an this little fella....(LARGE fella) decided to happen by. Not sure what he is or if he's a biter but I didn't stick around long. I resisted the temptation to "nuke his ass" and let him run away. Hopefully he's not back this morning. If he comes back he's getting nuked.
OK so i did a little goggle searching and it looks like a Brazilian Wandering Spider.......OH !!!! "The most venomous spider in Earth". It did rear up just like one when I annoyed it. I hope its not in the garden or more importantly in the car !!!!
On a lighter note....
When flying one way some airlines will stop you boarding and this includes the return portion of your ticket you used to visit home. You see you don't have a return ticket now do you....you only have the return part. This means they will stop you flying. Except you can check the rules and wave them in their faces before you travel. I'm not saying you can fly but if you know the rules then you can travel pre-warned.
For example we we flying back to the USA and if you use VWP you need a return ticket. If you have a B2 visa then you don't need a roudtrip ticket.
STAR ALLIANCE TIMATIC APPLICATION
Sorry about the formatting.....
/ 25MAY13 / 0708 UTC
National United Kingdom (GB) Embarkation United Kingdom (GB)/Destination USA (US)
Passport required. - Passports issued to nationals of United Kingdom must be
valid for the period of intended stay. Passport Exemptions:
- Holders of a Form I-512 ( Authorization for Parole of an
Alien into the United States"). - Holders of a Temporary or Emergency passports. Visa required, except for A max. stay of 90 days for holders of British passports endorsed British Citizen traveling as a
tourist, on business or in transit (SEE NOTE 42904) (SEE NOTE 42905) (SEE NOTE 42906) (SEE NOTE 42907) NOTE 42904: Passengers must obtain an ESTA authorization
(via https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/) prior to boarding. NOTE 42905: Passport issued on or after October 26, 2006 must be biometric (i.e. e-Passport, containing an integrated chip). NOTE 42906: Passport issued on or after October 26, 2005, but prior to October 26, 2006 must: - be machine-readable and contain a digital photograph; or - be biometric (i.e. e-Passport, containing an integrated chip). NOTE 42907: Passport issued prior to October 26, 2005 must be machine-readable. Visa required, except for Holders of British passports
endorsed British Overseas Territories Citizen issued to
residents of Bermuda. Visa required, except for Holders of a Form I-512 ( Authorization for Parole of an Alien into the United
States"). Minors: - Children, up to/incl. 15 years of age, being nationals of
United Kingdom, are not allowed to enter the USA on their parents passports. - Minors traveling unaccompanied, or accompanied by one parent or a person other than parent/legal guardian, For details, click here. Additional Information:
- Visitors are required to hold proof of sufficient funds to cover their stay and documents required for their next destination.
- The following applies to those traveling under the US Visa Waiver Program: - Each passenger must hold own passport (incl. Emergency/Temporary passport) and be traveling as a tourist, on business or in transit. - A return/onward ticket (or electronic ticket record) must
be to a final destination country other than Canada, Mexico
or contiguous (adjacent) countries or territories situated
in or bordering the Caribbean Sea For details, click here . If passenger holds proof of residence in, or is transiting the
USA to such a country or territory, an onward/return ticket
to that country or territory is accepted. - Passenger can make side trips to Canada, Mexico or Caribbean countries/islands, provided first entering the USA on a carrier participating in the VWP. No additional
time is given (extension) based on the departure to
contiguous (adjacent) territory For details, click here . - A passenger may enter the USA with a valid visa in an expired passport, provided For details, click here - Beginning students holding "F", "J" or "M" student/exchange visitor visas For details, click here Warning: - Visitors must hold return/onward tickets For details, click here. (SEE NOTE 46524) NOTE 46524: Exempt are holders of a valid US visa.
Vaccinations not required.
Warning: - Those entering on a K-1 or K-2 visa must hold a medical form FS398 and X-ray plates of chest (full size not necessary). To facilitate handling upon arrival considerably, passengers are advised to have these health documents ready in their hands as they must have them at hand for the health control, which takes place immediately after disembarkation.
CHECK TINEWS/N1 - EGYPT: DOCUMENT VALIDITY
A good few nights wild camping and driving quite quickly we stayed one night in a rather expensive campsite in Hotel Huanchaco Gardens Hotel. It was OK. I've posted some photos. For the price is could have been better but it was quiet so probably worth it.
I might not have mentioned the attempted robbery in Puno in Peru. Well We've noticed what he dried to do. Take a look at the block lock off the door. He never managed to get it off of course but there you have it. Daylight and we saw him do it. So did that little girl. Now I remember I mentioned it at the time.
We've caught up with Henning again and he's of course staying in a hotel with a car park suitable for overlanders except they won't let us park and camp without paying for a room. We're parked outside another hotel that has security and and "evening guy" with a big stick who charges $3USD to look after the car. The area is party central so unluckily Henning's Hotel is on one of the noisy roads and ours not so much. They were out partying until 4:30am though. When we got up this morning there was a guy passed out just behind the car and he was motionless. He may have been dead but he wasn't there later so maybe they cam and collected the body. We did get at least three "door tries" and "shovel lock wiggles". At one point I shouted "leave it !!!" at the top of my voice to scare them off. It was probably just drunk people but you never know. Its not the first time. The other day a policeman at a check point decided to try and open the back door whilst we were talking to his buddy.
Tomorrow, Julies birthday.....we stay with Rusty and Laura in there home in Quito. We met online and they invited us to stay. Its also Rusty's Birthday and he's 40.....We seem to have a habit of doing spectacular things on Julies Birthday. However this time she's only 41 so its not like its anything special like last year. Can you remember what we did last year on the day ? I certainly can. I drove a very long way to sleep in a church yard ! Happy Birthday Julie....
No i didn't eat the guinea-pig....
The driving here is markedly better than most South America countries however they still have little regard for any rules. They do seem to actually stop at red lights however. Cones on the other hand are meant to be flattened.
The Fuel here, Henning warned us, was really expensive. It was some $2USD per liter. He forgot its per GALLON and for diesel its $1.03 for 3.79 liters. So about 25c per liter or 18p UK. Now how can that be ? Could it be the extraordinary amount of tax we pay on everything amounting to some 70 or 80% of everything we earn going on tax. Well for some readers at least. We are no longer UK tax payers.
We should be on our way again today. Thanks the Club Germania in Lima for our stay. Trying to find the boss man to say thanks but if we can't find him we've said it here. I wonder if i knows we have a web site....
Not sure where the next place is or if we will get web access. On our way to Ecuador to meet some nice people we met on the Internet. Rusty and Laura.
We are staying in the Club Germania in Lima and its pretty damn OK. For free we have a flat car park , security, a Cafe and the best showers since Eldoret Africa. If we want to use the pool and tennis courts there's no problem. So if you are reading this Oberland Hotel, La Paz. They are FREE and their facilities are better !!!! The Wi-Fi is fast and they make money off us using the cafe and restaurant. Rather like we did in Oberland except we also paid to camp on the (not flat) car park. I'm having a bit of a downer on Oberland but after all it was expensive for what we got and although they sorted out the problems with our bill, we still had the problems in the first place! This place is not a campsite at all and we are lucky they let us vagabonds stay here...maybe they should charge. I would happily pay something....(I must be ill)
bringing me neatly on to.....
My sea food did stay eaten but some mystery illness came along a knocked me for six for just over 24hours. I had the same symptoms I did with the last bout of "dehli-belly" but not the rear trouble that normally comes with bad food. I was just knackered and had a high temperature. I had shivers and was feeling just shit. Its taken a few days to disappear completely but now I'm about 98%. Good enough to go to the Korean Restaurant up the road tonight we think.
Today we had the oil changed in the gearbox. A problem as they only have the older specification for lube here and not the recommended stuff. So far it seems OK and only time will tell if it lasts a long. The old stuff looked like new when it was removed. Would it have lasted another 10,000miles....maybe.
The only big think worrying me at the moment is the rear drive flanges. They are wearing and I have no spares. The half-shafts are also showing signs of wear. We might be doing a bodge job in Ecuador with the aid of our internet friends who will hopefully be staying with. More on that later.
Henning's been stopped again but the Police. He's not having much fun. I'm sure his web site will tell the tail soon enough. Go to oneworldonejourney to follow his travels and brushes with the law on every continent.
Kiwipanamerica are also having fun in the jungle and helping out stranded truckers.....they must be trying to catch up to my rescue record.....Their facebook page is were its all at although I did my best at embarrassing them into updating their proper blog.
Oh...and since we are in Lima we've been to see Iron Man 3 and the new Star Trek......fantastic in 3D.....and the new Star Trek is better than Iron Man although I'm not so sure about Dolby Digital 3D.....
As I`ve said before we hate the beach....Paracas was OK. Pisco is crap. So there you have it. For the first time in ages were are in an internet cafe doing internet stuff. So no photos as I don`t plug my stick in just any old hole. Last time I did, in vietnam I got a dose of something unmentionable.
As Dad rightly pointed out Julie was and is still knackered. She`s walking like Dad was when he climbed a fence he shouldn`t have and broke his leg.....Julie needs your crutches....Hobbling around like an 80 year old....not that Dad is 80 but having a zimmer makes you look like you are. I`m sure you went a bit more grey when using it....
We ate sea food yesterday. Hopefully it stays eaten.
Did I mention we saw the Nasca lines. Not really as big as I imagined. for 50p to go up the tower It wasn`t a bad 5 min stop off. We didn`t want to do the plane ride.....you can google the lines.
We saw 8 and 9 here from the viewing tower.
The problem with Machu Picchu is its a clear as mud how to get there and what stuff costs. So....
Drive to Santa Theresa and camp in the little campsite. Camping is 5 SOL but they do have some rooms for the same price. Location on our MAP.
The next day in the afternoon get a Taxi from Santa Theresa to Hydro Electrica for 5 to 10 Sol each. The campsite will arrange one. Leave your car at the campsite. Its safe !
Once at Hydro Electrica you can either catch the train (around 3pm) from Hydro Electrica to Aqua Calientes for 18 USD or walk the 2 hours up the train line to Aqua Calientes. You are better walking in the afternoon and getting a hostel in Aqua Calientes for 40 SOL overnight. Don't try to do it all in a day !!!
That evening go to the ticket office and get a ticket for Machi Picchu for the next day. The hostel will tell you where it is. These are 128 SOL each. In the morning you can either walk up the path to Machu Picchu or catch the bus. The bus is 9.50USD single or 18USD return, you'll see the ticket office on your way into town. I'd catch to bus as you have to walk back to Hydro Electrica in the same day. In the morning go up to Machu Picchu and see the sights. If you want to go up the big mountain to get the views this takes 3 hours, about 1.5 up and 1 hours down. Its costs a bit more to get the combo ticket for the mountain and Machu Picchu. You have to start climbing before 11am. The views are great. This is not the smaller hill with limited tickets but the bigger one with better views. Once you've done the mountain and Machu catch the bus down and get off at the bridge. Just shout at the drive to stop when you get to the river. Walk back along the train line to Hydro and catch any waiting taxi or bus back to Santa Theresa to the campsite.
So If you do the walking thing you pay for the campsite, hostel, entry ticket and bus. There's also the fuel to get the Santa Theresa. The road is OK. Travel light, its a long walk. There are places to get drink and food along the rail line at about half way.
I know which I'd rather have.....can you guess....
one of them is so cheap and they other not so much. After one of them you feel full and the other your wallet is empty....
After leaving La Paz we stopped in Copacabana and camped in the beach. Henning stayed in the most expensive hotel in town as always. He actually found us for the fist time ever. Normally we stalk Henning not the other way around. The beach was littered with backpackers and overlanders and we ate Trout from Lake Titicaca from a beach front cafe. We watched the sun go down. Nothing compaired to Lake Malawi Sunsets as I'm sure you will agree. (to look at the posts and photos for Malawi use the tick box at the right).
We did manage to use the loo in Hennings Hotel on two occasions though ! Nothing strange there....
The rip off for us was the little lake crossing on the barge. Henning paid nothing and we paid £7. It was 100meters...
In the morning we went through the border. Customs wanted us to pay tax on the fuel we didn't buy in Bolivia....Sounds like Syria. We actually got it in Brazil. We slept in a fuel station and filled up without the hassle and bribes like Bolivia.
We met Henning again in Puna and nearly ran him over. We found a cafe and parked right outside the place. A few mins in to eating a guy went behind the car and then came back out. Peering into the cafe he must have decided we weren't inside but we were. He went behind the car again so I went out. He saw me and according to a young girl who told me in English. "He'd tried to open the car". He moved off down the road. I did not chase after as there was little point. There were lots of people around and what could I have done.
We decided to go to the gorge at Chivay and allegedly its deeper then the Grand Canyon. It was too expensive. They charge a lot for something that looking at Google Images isn't that great. We backtracked and slept at 4600meters. Not a good idea unless you're an astronaut. The car didn't wat to start in the morning due to freezing temperatures and little oxygen. After 20-30 seconds of cranking and 3 attempts Matilda came to life. Phew....
One more tip about altitude is when your boiling an egg....make sure its well boiled. We've both had it bad.....enough said. I needed Antibiotics and Gatoaid. I had a fever and was a bit unwell...Not good when your using a not so good squat toilet and sleeping in a Land Rover. We're camping in the Truck park come garage used by the Overland "Bus" Companies. They like to be called Overland Trucks but they're just not....Its a bus with seat and people. Trucks carry fruit and stuff not tourists....Well mostly.....unless you're in Africa.
We should go to the thing in Peru tomorrow or the day after....how we get there is yet to be decided. Henning is on his way. We think he's been stopped for no insurance ! Naughtly Boy !
We managed to get round the bridge.....via the dam wall road. Looks like the guy that opens the sluce gate opened it a bit too much and washed away the bridge. I bet he got a bollocking....
We've been in Oberland too long and should be leaving tomorrow.
We've finally been caught up by Henning and we've had a meal and a drink. He's been filling us in on his adventures in both Africa and South America. He's having the time of his life same as us. He's not met many travellers so it must be a lonely ride for him.
He does have the same opinion as us and thats Africa is so much better than South Amercia so far. Bolivia is lovely but it doesn't make up for the boring Ruta 3 in Argentina and many other crappy things like the two hour border crossings here. In Africa you're unlucky if you spend 15 mins at a border. Africa and South Amercia do drive us mad on a few counts but this is the reason for travelling. We do little else but try to sort stuff out and this is the problem. In both continents its hard to get anything done, or at least done properly. Somethings are way easier to get done than at home, like a bit of weding and other things are almost impossible. Henning spent an hour in the queue at the phone shop to register his sim-card yesterday. This can only be done at the head office in La Paz so its lucky we went in specially to do it ! So many countries are going for compulsary registration on Sim-Cards now and we can thank the security services for that.
La Paz is an amazing place and quite spectacular and after 3 weeks here we know our way round quite well. We know where to get car parts and where's good to eat. We like it here and as I've said we like Bolivia. We could get used to the queues probably and we could certainly get used to the cheap lunch-time offers. You cannot complain at a 3 course lunch for two quid (~$3usd).
On sunday we went to El-Alto to the Sunday market and its HUGE. You can buy anything from a car to a teapot. They sell anything and its a maze of roads lined with stalls. You can even buy a Dog, Cat, Chicken, Duck or Tropical Fish ! Julie got a hat and I got a few emergency repair bits for the car. I finally got a grommit for the hole under the centre cubby box and after looking for ages in nearly all hardware stores in all countries we've visited. They never sold them big enough but here the Chinese have sent us everything they make. Some of it is even good quality.
The camp is pretty busy and we've seen people come and go. We've met Swiss, American, French, Danish (yes theres even some more Danish here on top of Henning), Kiwis, Germans and Dutch. One thing is true the Europeans like to travel. The Kiwi's got us some parts and arrive the other day in their Chilian registered Dodge Durango. We met them in Sucre at the Overland camp three weeks ago. Thanks to them we now have some more lock washers so my wheels don't fall off ! This is something the guys in the other Land Rover (with the pop roof) will know all about. There wheel bearings were very loose as they'd not checked them since buying the car ! All was OK though after a couple of hours and the use of the large socket Mike gave me. Three of their hubs were TD5 and one was like mine.... arn't Land Rovers great !
Named after the film America Visa....
Although,,,, we should be picking ours up tomorrow.
The film is about a Bolivian National who applies for a US Visa......strange coincidence ?
My mother will be pleased to know they didn't even want to see the scans (she spent ages doing) of our old passports. I asked him and nearly pleeded with him to take a look but he didn't want to see them. He did however acknowledge your efforts Mum. So Thanks you now have official recognition from the US governement for your skills in I.T. and administration.
Took about 1hr 30mins toget in an out. So all in, 5 days to get it. We will get a B1/B2 visa we think which means I can use it for business meetings if I ever need to go there for an employer.
Matilda has new shock bushes front and rear and apart from the fact they are Toyota bushes she's happy. She also has new shocks on the rear. I thought it about time to remove the odd shocks that have been on for 40,000km !
We are now looking for conveyor belt to make some mud flaps. The front has split and those of you who know Land Rovers will think this strange. The rears normally fall off first. We my rear is held together by Aluminium so has been OK for the entire journey. The fronts are probably as old as the car. The braket is a royal pain to remove....! Dremel in use again. Thankfully is 220 volt here.
Our friends have come through with the parts. They will be here Saturday. I still need drive flanges but they can wait till Ecuador as they are only for the spares box. I can now lock the wheel hubs with new washers next time they come loose.
Oh how I hated this series but only after it ended. I wasted so much of my life watching it....the worse ending of all time.
Anyhow, our receipt number for the $160usd each isn't being accepted by the system CSC so helpfully created. So we cannot book our appointment ! As is the way of things like this we are now in the support queue....
We are sat here doing nothing waiting. I'm not starting on replacing the shocks until we know what day and time our interview is. If they ever sort out the payments that is. Its going from bad to worse.
The USA visa system also requires a passport photo like no other. It must be 5cm square unlike every other passport photo that are normally rectangular. So if you plan on applying make sure you have a nice 600x600 photo of your head and shoulders. They have a picture checking application on the site that's about the only thing that's good on there. When you decide to apply you may also come up against the same brain fuddling conundrum we have. We filled out paperwork for a B2 Tourist Visa and on the payment site this is listed as a B2 Medical Visa. I hope this is just a minor issue as I'm not planing on going to hospital in the USA as our travel insurance has just run out. This we cannot re-new as you have to be in the UK to do so.
The campsite at Oberland Hotel in La Paz is empty almost but full of a German Overland bus that's just plonked itself in the middle of the camp in the worse place possible. The only thing its good for is shade as its damn hot here and we are still high up so the sun is very strong. We have the awning out and the South African Engineered Solar Panel. Installed and fitted by Kobus/Bird Engineering. We had a flat leisure battery yesterday for some as of yet unexplained reason. I hope the battery itself isn't failing.
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