Don´t count your chickens before they are hatched. Or in words a bit closer to a “professional” cyclist´s life: Never be too enthusiastic about a country before reaching the border! Because what I met there was nothing less than a professional idiot…
Want to hear the whole story? Ok: I reached the migration office after something like 3 km cycling out of town. To be informed that I had to pay a fine for having stayed too long in the country. For leaving my money in restaurants, hotels and hostals, in city centres and souvenir shops for 2 weeks longer than the immigration officer at the airport of Lima did allow me. I mean officially I have 90 days, right? So what exactly is the reason for receiving 30 days only? Those of you who think they know me might now think they know what happened there in the office. But no, you´re wrong: I didn´t say a word! I just asked the officer where I have to pay that fine of 14 US Dollars. “Over there” he pointed with a stretched out arm. But when I was outside where more or less his finger had pointed to I didn´t see anything but some wild dogs having street sex. I went in again to – still very kindly – ask again. When then I heard that “over there” would be back in town! Ok, now you know me…
“Que mierda aquí” I said loudly when leaving the office. And outside again. In all the languages I know by now. And come on: It´s true! Not only they steal money for already having spent and left more money in their country. They also steal my time and my energy by expecting to do these 3 km again. Twice! Well, but what choice did I have? I got on the bike and looked for the “Banco Nacional”. Finding it in the corner of the first Plaza but not being able to pay with credit card. Nop! I had to go to the Atm – and thank God they had one! – and withdraw. Meaning that after having went back to the counter and payed the fine in cash I had some coins left that later I wouldn´t be able to change into Bolivian currency. So of course I also had to drink a coffee in order to not waste them.
Well, finally after being back at the office and also after having decided to just take it easy that I had lost one hour of my beloved lifetime I got the extended version of ridiculousness: “I will not proceed you!” – “You will not… sorry, what?” No, he would not proceed me. The official reason I got was that I had offended him. Which is simply not true! I didn´t even look at him criticising only the insolent process. I had almost left his office when I did say all these things to myself – loudly, ok, but definitely not to him! Because I knew that he was not responsible for the process. He was just the one to follow it. (I will not talk about these people who just follow the order. …compared to people who have a certain feeling for “Service at the client” who would have tried to get a credit card reader to the counter.) I did try to explain that nothing of what I said was personally dedicated to him, still having something like a neutral sympathy for him. But when he just didn´t want to accept my explanations and excuses for a potential misunderstanding I had to get helped by the police officers next door. I told them what had happened. Telling them openly what I had said. And they were really friendly! I could feel they did believe me and would help me. In the end one of the police men went over to talk to the migration officer. But when he came back and told me I would have called him a “Hijo de Puta” (sorry but I don´t even know how to translate that into English, not to think of saying that in Spanish to an Official!) I forgot about my guilty feeling. The fact that he had to invent that to give the whole case a more serious character did nothing but confirm that what had really happened was actually not enough to not do his job!
Well, in the end the policemen arranged that a colleague of the idiot´s would process me. Of course making himself a bit more important before doing that by telling me: Please take a seat and wait. …I was the only one in the queue! Then he continued being important and finally told me that now I would need 3 copies of the passport and the receipt of the fine. …then 3 more copies of the backside and 2 more of another piece of paper. It´s because they don´t have a copier in the migration office! Actually he deserved… But I stayed calm. Just looking at the police officer still waiting in the frame of the door. And silently starting to cry after having turned.
Making 8 copies meant going back into town a second time in order to withdraw in order to pay the copies in a copy shop – that at least was close to the migration office. It was just about the way a normal, civilized tourist is being treated by these nobodies having received a little bit of power over others… But I was lucky to have the 2 police guys! They already knew why my eyes were under water. “Need copies?”, they asked me immediately. I only could nod. “Don´t worry, we will help you!”, one of them said to me. They were great people! And they kept their promise to help me even when being quite surprised that it was 8 and not 1 or 2 copies I needed.
Well, finally I passed the border. But feeling so, so, so disappointed that this will be the last experience in Peru. Can you tell me why they always find the worst characters for the border counters? Actually there you would need the most professional and warm and human types as it is a border is the Gate of “Welcome” and “Good-bye”. But as long as we keep on placing the most ignorant ones at the service hotlines there isn´t any big hope that this will ever change. Just one thing is sure now: Definitely no Tattoo. My butts will stay White!
Copacabana, Bolivien (Hostel)
Tages-Km: 17,23km / -Zeit: 1:25h / -Höhenmeter: 200m
Gesamt-Km: 21.092km / -Zeit: 1.442h / -Höhenmeter: 191.789m
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