Posts Tagged borders
Posted on December 13, 2012 by angela
And, about 6 months later than we expected, we are finally crossing into Brazil. The good news is, exiting Uruguay and entering Brazil was a pretty painless process. The Uruguayan officials are so laid-back, that it reminded us why we liked the country so much. And, we even saw our Westy buddy again – he’s a teacher in Chuy and has to come through this checkpoint every day.
The town of Chuy (Uruguay)/ Chui (Brazil) is a market town, and contains some duty free shopping on the main street that divides the countries. Interestingly, the entire town(s) is between the migration offices for each country. It’s a no-man’s land. We had been without Uruguayan pesos for a few days (there are no ATMs from La Paloma to Chuy), knowing we were about to cross into Brazil. Not a huge problem, but we were ready to refill the pantry and get some fresh food. We were down to the canned stuff. So, we sent Jason off to the ATM, while Bode and I manned the bus. He was gone an unusually long time, and Bode had been eyeing the pancho stand near us and I’d promised him one when Jason got back with some Brazilian reales.
When he finally returned, he had the bad news. He was unable to get any money. He went to 3 banks and tried maybe 8 different ATM machines inside the banks*. Each time he got different errors: ‘unable to process’, ‘communication error’ and one machine even went blank and reset itself. Finally, he got ‘denied’. We pulled out the laptop and found that we actually had a wi-fi signal so we immediately checked our bank account. About $400 dollars had been taken out of the account. We called our bank, and although a withdrawal showed up in our account, it hadn’t fully processed, so they weren’t able to do anything. But, they helpfully informed us that we would now be denied on subsequent attempts because we were over our daily limit. Now that we had some time to think about all the attempts and the weird machine behavior, we started to get nervous. We decided not to try my card and we would wait it out and go to the next town. Luckily, we had some US dollars with us and we exchanged those. The first time on the trip the emergency stash was necessary.
We had high hopes of finding all the little things we needed really cheap here. But, nearly all the shops carried the absolute lowest quality crap. The only decent store was an airport-quality, fancy-pants duty-free shop at the end of the street. I think there may have been good deals on LaCoste clothing, perfume and makeup, but no car batteries or motor oil. We didn’t have much money anyway, so we spent a portion of what we had on a bottle of Jim Beam (which we haven’t seen since the duty free in Punta Arenas, Chile), Bode’s hot dog (he wasn’t going to let us forget that), and gasoline (we are thrilled to be spending only $6 USD/gallon now) and took off for the Brazilian immigration.
Our Brazilian visas, obtained six months ago, are still valid. Whew. We were actually a little worried about that – we had heard stories. The officials were nice, and one spoke some English. Getting the car in was a breeze – just the title and driver’s license was required. Again, we had heard stories of problems. And, there was no food inspection (or any inspection at all). As Americans, we get 90 days. We can request an additional 90 days at any Federal Police station. Apparently, 180 consecutive days per year is the absolute maximum time we’re allowed in the country. If anyone knows ways around this, please let us know.
Then, we were off to the next sizable town – Cassino.
This gave us a few hours to build up anxiety over the ATM deabacle. We were eager to check our accounts again. We opened up the Brazil guidebook and found this little unhelpful nugget:
One of the biggest scams to watch out for is people hacking into your bank account after you use an ATM machine. There have been many reports of this by travelers throughout Brazil.
- Lonely Planet guide.
Spotting roadside capybaras took our mind of of it for a little while. Later, we found wi-fi in Cassino and learned that Jason’s account had been suspended due to ‘fraudulent activity’.
We passed a couple of closed campsites (still off-season) before we saw a guard inside one of them. I got out and asked (in Spanish) if there was camping. Well, I learned the hard way that the Brazilians do not like you to speak Spanish to them. He gave me the business. Something about, “If you Uruguayans are going to come here, you need to learn the damn language. Jackasses.” Something like that. We told him we weren’t from Uruguay. “Argentina?” No, Estados Unidos. Since we weren’t one of the two major offenders, it softened him up a little, and he told me to learn Portuguese and gave us directions to an open campground.
By the time we got there, we were deflated. Our first day in Brazil, and we’d already been scammed (maybe) and scolded in Portuguese. This is the kind of night you’ve just got to pull out the Ramen noodles and go to bed. Tomorrow’s plan: deal with the ATM card mess, get money, buy real food.
*we’ve consistently only used ATMs that are physically inside a bank for 3.5 years with no issues until now.
Posted on October 26, 2012 by angela
Finally back on the open highway, one more time through the Entre Rios area. The speed limit signs went from 120 km/h to 100, to 60 to 40 more times than I could count. But, luckily the weather seemed to keep the crooked cops inside (but not the hidden radar trucks). We were only stopped once, again asked for insurance paperwork (which is fake), left to sweat a few minutes while they went behind the car and stalled, and then told to have a safe trip. Whew.
There has been a lot of flooding in this region, and it was a gray day, so it wasn’t a very exciting drive. We stopped for gas, a trip to the vinoteca an lubricentro to spend the rest of our Argentine pesos. Finally, we hit the border and were able to check out of Argentina and into Uruguay in one efficient stop. They even gave us a year for the car papers. Pretty generous for a country you could drive across in one day. And, they let me keep the eggs and broccoli which they were supposed to confiscate.
It was nighttime before we had stopped for some more groceries and found an open campsite (the one our friend recommended was closed for the season). No hot water, but the restrooms were open, and it was free.
The night was really windy, and a bit more rain came, so we decided to take off before we were stuck in another muddy camp.
Posted on October 18, 2012 by angela
And 15 hours later, we were back in Buenos Aires. Jason and I aren’t good airplane sleepers, so we were wiped out when we landed at 7am. Bode, who normally rocks an overnight flight was too excited about the individual TV on the seat in front of him and stayed up nearly all night too.
Loaded down with way too much stuff and a cranky dragging kid, we waited for an hour to pay our $160 USD (each!) reciprocity fee for entering Argentina. We think this might be our 8th entry, but if you come through the airport, you pay.
We had scattered car parts throughout our bags, but the first bag through the x-ray alerted the Customs official to a carburetor in my bag. You can’t bring auto parts into Argentina. Period. We kind of knew this, and it’s why all the parts here are so expensive. But, I guess we thought if we were bringing in parts for our own car (not reselling them) we’d be okay. Not so, according to Customs—big fines, illegal. He’d spent so long telling us this, that the other bags had gone though x-ray and I’d slipped them back on our cart–all while Bode was throwing a zombie fit. He must of not wanted to deal with our mess, so he said this time we could go ahead – and sent us on our way with a brochure listing all the things that are illegal to bring into the country for the next time. We tore out of there and felt pretty lucky.
An hour taxi ride later, we were back at Rody’s shop drinking mate. I started sorting out our bags, and Jason started in on the car repairs. Except he accidentally broke the oil pump when he was removing it to fix a leak. Oops. Rody had another, although the Argentinean version was just a bit different. Jason spent the rest of the day putting that in and the car back together before he realized it didn’t work. No oil pressure.
Day 2- The guys try all sorts of new tactics – and a second new oil pump (and you won’t believe what this costs), with no luck. Then, back to the original to see if it was a different problem all together – the broken original still worked. Now, we’re getting a piece machined down the street and aren’t too hopeful. Nothing is working.
So, fingers crossed something works today, or we aren’t going anywhere soon. This is all part of the joy of travel, I suppose – all the trivial things that would be so simple back home are now incredibly difficult and frustrating.
It’s good to be back, but this is one hell of a way to re-start our journey. We haven’t even started on the ‘big’ projects.
And, I know we had big plans to answer some of your questions and create a Best-of series, but I was completely unmotivated. Now that I’m back though, I’ve found the camera in my hand a lot (considering we haven’t left the mechanic’s garage) and a lot more inspired. Before, we’d been away from the U.S. for so long, that it was a culture shock for us to return. But after 3 months I’m better able to appreciate the differences in lifestyle and conveniences, and I’m hoping to be better at describing them. For now, I can say I miss the shower at my Mom’s house and we are already stepping all over each other trying to get used to moving around inside the bus again.
Posted on October 15, 2012 by jason
Okay, this time we mean it.
Summer hiatus is over. No monkey wrenches. No last-minute change of plans. It’s time to get this show on the road.
Our bags are packed and we’re hopping on a plane back to Buenos Aires this afternoon. Adios norteamericanos. See you in the other hemisphere.
Posted on July 11, 2012 by jason
Done with Paraguay. We liked it. We had no real expectations or plans going in, and I think that almost always leads to having a good trip.
Before heading out, we had a few more things on the list. Sushi in Encarnacion- restaurant Hiroshima – recommended. Picked up some bus stuff – a new battery for the solar panel, a new headlight lente, some oil, etc. Fill the tank. Fill the jerry cans. Be sure and buy anything you need before crossing back into Argentina.
At the camp site, Bode helped me un-stick my rear brake adjusters. And, when the clouds finally parted, we started our camp fire with a magnifying glass. Things you don’t learn in school.
Aside from the visa limitations for Brazil, we’re not entered Brazil right now because we have plans to go back to the US from Buenos Aires. So, one more border crossing.
This would be the 3rd time that we’ve said it’s the last time we’re entering Argentina. Never say never, I guess.
Posted on May 25, 2012 by jason
We crossed the Rio Uruguay and the border into Argentina near Concordia. Again, border formalities were simple. The Uruguay and Argentina aduanas share a desk and we were stamped out and in in 5 minutes. The problem was across the street where we got our vehicle papers. Even though i handed over my papers when leaving Argentina on the boat from Buenos Aires, it didn’t seem that anyone ever entered the info into the computer. So, the guys in the office were perplexed that our vehicle had never left their country, but here we were driving in from Uruguay. Like some of of our other hold ups with the Argentina aduana, after lots of head scratching, they ultimately just clicked the print button and gave us new papers. Problem solved.
We decided that Concordia wasn’t worth much time, so we loaded up on gas and food and headed north. The first stop was in Chajari – another nice camp site and hot springs. This one was basically a resort complex with fancy concrete pools and elaborate grounds. We took a dip and popped the top. Oddly, the place didn’t have hot showers, and we’re starting to realize that just soaking in hot springs isn’t going to cut it much longer.
The next day we made it farther north to the mission town of Yapeyu. It’s getting more and more rural and feeling a bit tropical too. This was a really quiet and relaxed place, where everyone waves when you drive by. It doesn’t matter if they are on a horse, on a tractor, sitting on their porch… they all wave. We like it.
We parked down by the river and popped the top under a big tree. Just in time to see the bats come out as we watched darkness fall on Brazil.
Posted on May 15, 2012 by angela
We had a fantastic time in Buenos Aires. We parked the bus in a lot for the week and stayed in a penthouse. Yeah, you heard that right. Honestly, it was just a large room on the top floor of the hostel, but we had a great balcony and they brought in an extra mattress for Bode.
I spent most of my time shopping. My mom is coming to visit in a week so I figured it was my chance to buy a few things to send back with her. My custom-made leather coat turned out great, too. It was pretty fun to take an existing coat design and change up the cuffs, collar, buttons…I even had them add in some extra pockets on the inside. Totally one of kind. All for not much more than off the rack.
A tango show, a few nice meals out and it was time to get out of the big city. We’d splurged, but enjoyed it. Simon and MC were flying back to Montreal, and we headed the other way- to the ferry terminal. On to Uruguay.
We wandered around Buenos Aires for another couple of hours before we had to check in for the ferry. I was expecting we’d return to drive the bus onto the ferry, but once we’d checked we were sent right through a very efficient Argentina/Uruguay customs process. Bode and I were ushered into a waiting area that was equivalent to a very nice airport. Jason was sent to the bus to load the car.
I didn’t have anything with me, no backpack, no money no entertainment for Bode. I was freezing in a skirt and the flip flops I’d changed into after walking B.A. I had planned to change on the ferry because it was getting cold.
Meanwhile , Jason got the complimentary drug dog inspection at the bus. Finally, we were allowed on the boat, which was very exciting to Bode. It was a hydrofoil, and looked like a fancy cruise ship inside, complete with duty-free store and snack bar. Jason finally showed up with some entertainment for Bode and a bottle of wine for us.
About an hour later, we were in Colonia, Uruguay. After unloading the car, we were pulled out of line since we had the only ‘foreign’ plate. The cops gave us a hand-written note that appears to be our temporary vehicle permission.
It was dark, but the town looked nice. The gate to the municipal campground was open, but it was closed down and the bathroom doors were locked. Since it was late, we just popped the top anyway.
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