Day 49: Copacabana (Bolivia) to Puno (Peru) – The 2nd border crossing challenge

The second border crossing after the one from Brazil into Bolivia was awaiting me today. This time I thought I’d be better prepared while reading a lot online about the rather “tranquilo” crossing at Copacabana. My first “surprise” was the Bolivian border patrol who asked me several times in different languages regarding the price of my motorbike clothes and my motorbike… That should remain the less problematic issue of today!

This was not really unexpected and my routine answer “no intendo” helped me to avoid answering their uncomfortable questions. Even though, they were a bit disappointed they remained surprisingly friendly and after showing them my passport and visa they were satisfied and provided me with the exit stamp. Easy, I thought. Hopefully, my luck would continue that way and I went afterwards straight to the “douana”. No problem here either, they just wanted to see my documents I received from Sant Matias and I was fine. DONE!!! SWEET!!!!

I crossed the border into Peru and parked my bike in front of the gate which was really just a metal chain. Next to it was the immigration office and I also immediately received my stamp into my passport and could continue the immigration process. This is what I thought at least and this was the starting point where things got out of control.

The next and final stop on my way into Peru was the “douane” at the Peruvian side. I read on the internet that it would be necessary to provide passport, driver license, motorbike documents and the insurance for Peru. All checked! Well, this is what I thought and this is where the nightmare began.

The passport was fine. Check!

The driver license was fine. Check!

The motorbike documents were fine. Check!

The insurance for Peru was fine. Check! NOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

“Unfortunately”, the Brazilian insurance from Porto Segura did not specify the single countries of South America they covered and the border control refused my onward journey into the country. They requested the insurance to explicitly mention Peru as country on the documents. Damn it!!!!! Of course, they did not mention even a single country but I was sure they would cover all of South America. What should I do????? My Bolivian Sim card and network was not functioning anymore and returning into Bolivia was seriously not an option.

The Peruvian guys told me to leave my motorbike at the border and to take a taxi into next town to clarify with my insurance the content of my contract. NO… F?&*! WAY!!!!! I was looking for one of the shops close by telling they would have the opportunity to have internet access. The best idea which came to my mind was using Skype to call the insurance in Brazil in order to provide me with the necessary details.

Of course, none of the shops really had internet access and none of them had a SIM card which I could possibly purchase. GREAT!!! I was in a deep SHIT!!! At least I was able to change my Bolivianos into the local currency.

Luckily, the lady at the booth was surprisingly friendly and after explaining her my dilemma she offered my to use her mobile phone and internet access. YESSSSS! I tried to call Fernando, the motorbike dealer but first unfortunately without success. He did not answer but fortunately he wrote back after 5 minutes. He was in a BMW internal meeting and could not answer his phone. He told me to contact directly Barbara who was responsible for the insurance. Of course, she only spoke Portuguese and I was not able to communicate her my needs.

Desperately, I tried to explain Fernando my situation and begged him to organise the necessary documents indicating the single country of insurance coverage. He luckily agreed and told me Barbara would send me the necessary documents. WOW! After 5 minutes I received the insurance paper… REALLY????? I could not believe how efficient they were… It was a dream… And indeed it remained a DREAM!!!!! She sent me exactly the same documents I already had. No difference compared my original papers. Obrigado, Porto Seguro!!!!

I tried to explain her via email what I really needed… without answer! PERFECT! Without hesitating, I contacted again Fernando to ask him for the whatsapp number of Barbara (the normal number was not useful because I could not make any international calls, of course)!

Fernando was reacting luckily immediately and after a couple of minutes I was texting to Barbara. She sent me some pictures explaining that Bolivia, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay and Paraguay are not covered by the contract. THANK YOU!!!!! I NEED YOU TO SPECIFY THAT PERU IS COVERED BY THE INSURANCE!!!!!!!!!!!!! I DON’T CARE ABOUT THE REST FOR THE MOMENT!

I asked the owner of the mobile phone to send her a text in Spanish in order to tell her what I needed. That worked… AND what did I receive back in return?!?! “PERU IS NOT COVERED BY PORTO INSURANCE” HAHAHAHAHAHA…. WHAT?!?!?!?!?!

WTF!!!!!!!!!!! All the promises made at the beginning were not true! They told me at the beginning to cover every single country in South America!!!!! F%&*!

Ok… I had to come up with another solution. A couple of motorbikers I met before had “surprisingly” the same problem but came through with a 50 dollar bribe. I fist did not take it into consideration since I believed to have sufficient coverage available which was not the case anymore.

I walked back and put my most desperate face on I ever tried to fake, lol.

At first it seemed to work and the guy told me to sit down. Hoping, my puppy face would work they began to set up the documents. I could not believe it… wow… I am lucky again, I thought. Well, not really!

They asked me straight into my face for money! I first tried to put the “no intendo” strategy on but they would not let me go through with it. I had to pay 10 dollars and afterwards I received my documents for the bike.

Afterwards, the guys were escorting me to the insurance broker of the next town where I had to buy an local insurance lasting for a month. Just enough to cross the country and apply again for a new one once returning from Ecuador. That was the plan at least!

After an odyssey of 3 hours I finally made my way to Puno and of course it was already super late! While I was enjoying the sun on my face in Copacabana I faced now permanently a low standing sun, making it extremely difficult to focus on the road.

Fighting with my consciousness and trying not to get upset of what just happened, time was running out of my hands. With every minute it started to get more and more dark and even though I was passing quite a lot of villages there was no hotel visible at all.

Desperately I increased the speed, passed over many cars and trucks but realised not to speed up too much. The risk of having an accident was just too big!

Just before it really turned pitch black I saw a huge building on the right hand side of the road. THIS MUST BE A HOTEL!!!! I immediately tightened my breaks and went quickly into the side road, just to realise it was indeed a hotel… A bloody 5 star hotel and a room was 70 dollars a night! JACKPOT! After spending 5 nights in a rather expensive hotel at Copacabana my plan was to actually safe some money. That again was the plan…

Fortunately, I could successfully negotiate the price to the half of the amount and checked in to my hotel room. I was amazingly relieved!

After I realised there was a happy hour at the hotel bar I ordered my first Pisco Sour in Peru. HAPPY END!!!!!!

PS: The drink was the only picture of the day 😀

Copacabana to Chucuito (Puno)