Thursday, July 24th 2003 – Day 156

Thursday, July 24th 2003 – Day 156

I had expected the VISA card yesterday and when I got up at 9.00am as usual, I expected it to be today. It had to be as time was running out. I had to fly out of Santiago on the 30th (and its not a short journey).

Lots of more parades this morning. They have going all week. Time for the majorettes and big bands today. Its all about Simon Bolivar who was born on today’s date. Simon Bolivar was one of South America’s greatest generals. His victories over the Spaniards won independence for Bolivia, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela. He is called El Liberator (The Liberator) and the “George Washington of South America.

There was also a few counter demonstrations and at one point nearly got ugly. They were leaving off fireworks (loud bangers) non stop for three hours and started throwing around fuse delayed bangers on their route. Riot police headed them off away from the main parades.

It seems they were Bolivian street vendors demonstrating against a City Hall decision to remove them from the streets and reaccomodating them in proper markets in La Paz. The vendors say the decision would harm their scarce profits moving them away from their customers, the pedestrians.

I checked my email and was shocked to find from home that the card was in London. Felt like shit and emailed AIB (Bank) to find out why. They said they had tried to ring me but had the wrong number (wrong, as I had faxed them the address and number a week before) so they were sloppy. They rang the hotel at 10.30am and I told them to send it to the Irish consulate in new Zealand. This was off the top of head and I had emailed the consulates details to AIB. The guy who rang then asked me to ring New Zealand (the guy without cash or VISA). Agg, anyway I got ready to check out of the hotel and I paid 175 B (20 Euro) for 7 days stay. The Torino is great. Quite, secure and cheap but very cold.

At 11.30am, the guy from the bank rang again to say the card was in la Paz and gave me the number of DHL customer support in La Paz. I rang them but they had no account. I decided to go down there and waited for 20 minutes. They had no account of me or the bank. I went back to the hostel (now 12.00) and the package was waiting. I rushed to finish packing ad change my remaining Bolivars into Chilean Pesos.

I got a mini-bus collective to the bus station for 1.50B), its 8B by taxi) and paid 90 B (10 Euro) to go to Iquique in Chile. The bus left at 1.00pm and I was just in time. It was a very cold journey. We got a bit of dinner on board and I had two seats. Getting stamped out of Bolivoia is easy but Chile is different. The scenery was out of this world as we went over the Andes. Snow covered mountains only miles away (there was some snow on the road) and a blood red sky. It was fantastic.

At the Chilean border all our bags were hand checked and put through X-Ray machines. They are very thorough. We stopped in a a Chilean restaurant and I got a nice (I licked the plate clean) chicken and rice dinner for 800 CP (1 Euro). There was a great film on the bus called “Shaolin Soccer“. It was in Spanish but it was the funniest film I had seen in a while and it was great fun.

At 12.00, I had to share my seat with a woman as she was sick for her bus companion who had a baby.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Bolivia – Chile border (24-07-2003)

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Bolivia – Chile border (24-07-2003)