Life. People. Journey.
Some virtues of my life. Places that I traveled though, feelings that I lived through, people that I met and colors that I saw.

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Other Side


13th of March 2009

Location: Rio
Mood: just left the desert

Dedicated to the people who believe I’m hanging out and having a good time here. It’s also dedicated to the ones who want to sell his/her kidney/apartment/business to go around the world alone but have never been to other places except Egyptian and Turkish all-inclusives.

Have you ever had an experience… When you wake up in the morning and sure you’ll go to bed in the same country. Once you have your breakfast your mind is changed to another country. Once you have your dinner you change your plan to the third location. Finally, you are completely unsure where you’ll sleep by the evening.
Have you ever taken a random bus without giving a damn of its direction… the main point of it was going to some other country…
I bet you didn’t travel with Uruguayan drug dealers across a desert.
Have you ever seen a movie about a guy who was stuck in an American airport without a possibility to go back home? I have even more awesome story…

I went to the South of Bolivia from La Paz. My journey started from the fact that the bus ride took 18 hours instead of the promised 10 (!). Once I got there I found an explorer to cross the mountains and reach the desert of Salvador Dali. On my way I realized I could reach Atacama desert located on Chile border. It was clear that my plan to get back to La Paz and fly to Rio was cancelled since I could not miss Atacama :) Guys, that’s the driest place on the planet. Juan brought me to the Bolivian border which was successfully crossed. I luckily took a gringo tour bus to San Pedro de Atacama, which was a checkpoint at Chile side. Bad feeling arose during the ride… Once we crossed the border all the gringos got their passport stamps. Well, they didn’t allow me to cross the border since I didn’t have visa. I knew I needed visa but I was hoping to get it on the border. Bad luck #1 happened at that moment. Nothing could help me: I used my standard techniques and even American presidents. I could give everything up and avoid the checkpoint without visa but it was important to keep legal status for me. While I was thinking about my situation I noticed a bus on Chile side, which was going to Argentina (3 countries border at those region). Couple minutes later I decided to fuck everything go to Argentina instead of Chile! Preliminarily embassy guys told me I could get visa on their border. I negotiated with the drivers who charged me $100 since the traffic between the countries was weak, the bus went only twice a week and I was illegal. Staying there and waiting for a miracle could cause troubles with the frontier guard.

I got the bus in accompanied by the applauses of the gringos from my Bolivian bus. They saw the whole situation and thought “What a power man!” I was happy of myself made the clever knight’s move and I was anticipating talks with Argentinean ladies. The driver had a seat next to me on a inverted bucket. They fed me and tried to work the received money out in all the possible ways.

 

We got the Argentinean border. Bad luck #2 happened there. I realized they didn’t give visa on the border. Maybe the embassy guys made a mistake, or maybe visa were given on large checkpoints… That didn’t matter… Nothing could help there again. The drivers tried to help me by calling their amigos… I guess that just wasn’t my day… I’d like to say I might not let in a guy like me if I was a frontier guard. I had a very suspicious look since I just came from desert. My clothes were worn, my eyes were red, my face was burned and whole patches were falling off my skin… It’s difficult to talk and smile even now… I haven’t taken a shower for a week… I slept in barns… I had a ride in Chile bus with Bolivian stamps… Nah, a real smuggler…


What should I do? Should I go back to Bolivia? My Bolivian visa expired so they won’t let me in…
At that moment I felt the whole tragedy of my situation and I got very sad… I was in a desert between three countries and none of them let me in… There were 150-200 kilometers between the checkpoints and the night was approaching…

One driver told me to go to Chile. There was a small town where I could try again. Otherwise I could go back to Bolivia and find a transport in San Pedro. I understood I didn’t have other opportunities so I followed his advice. They took me a cab to Chile. 5 minutes after I got the car in I started to be confound feel moral discomfort from my fellow travelers.
Have you ever seen movies about Mexican Mafiosi? Well, I was travelling with three Mafiosi-like Uruguayans. They were like the ones in movies. One of them was a complete jack occupying almost the whole back seat next to me. The second of them was smart and the third one was the boss. They asked me about my problems so I complained about assholes frontier guard. Then they started to talk about cocaine prices and so on with each other… I was trying to keep silence and even not breathe… I actually thought I had big ass problems was worried for myself… It was easier to kill me than to take a candy from a kid… The place was perfect because there was a cliff on one side of the road and abyss on the other… Counter traffic was one car per 30 minutes… Uruguayans were peculiarly looking at each other and that didn’t make me optimistic… I was completely freaked out when they asked about the price they could sell my (!) camera… At one moment the car stopped and the two guys on front seats left it while the jack was with sitting next to me… I thought it was my end…


Well, I was wrong. I guess my guardian angel did his business and I got lucky. They just switched the driver :) Gosh, I was so happy :) They asked me to take a memory picture when we got San Pedro. They even didn’t take money when I offered them (!). So they were pretty cool guys! Respect!

So I went to the checkpoint and asked the amigo for a help while telling my story of a potential death in the desert between the three fucking countries… He denied me at first… then he turned out to be a good guy and tried to help me… He spent several hours calling all the possible bodies since that was an unprecedented case… They had never ever met a person from Ukraine… There was so much time that I could make friends with everybody and even talk about the girls they like :) However, that was the exact time of Bad luck #3. The calls didn’t bring their result so I had nothing to do but go to the town and looking for an overnight place. Now imagine the worst ghetto in your city… Did you imagine? Now imagine crappy garage district somewhere on its outskirt… I walked through the district with my two backpacks on my neck… I had walked till I saw a light in one house. I simply knocked the door and asked for an overnight stay…

The only thing I could do next morning was go back to Bolivia.
Chilean frontier guardians gave me a seat in a bus going to the border. My Bolivian borders was expired so I paid $3 (three) and told my soulful story to Bolivians. That was enough to be let in to the country and to scream out the voice of freedom.

Bolivian border is fucking locked


I made my own creative during my adventures between the borders: the smaller the checkpoint building is, the easier it is to negotiate with them :)

The frontier guard let me inside since it was below 0 Celsius degrees and about 5000 meters altitude outside. We started to find a way I could get to the closest city which was 8 hours ride through a desert. Couple hours later there was an off-road car (no other vehicle could make the ride). So me and two other Indian old ladies were seated in the trunk of the car. All the three Bolivian frontier guards went outside to say goodbye and to wish I never had such problems again…
I spent 8 hours being shriveled and blaming everything around me.

Then I had 10 hour Vara-Vara train to Ururu, when I almost died because of cold… Then I had a bus ride to La Paz… Then I had a flight to Santa Cruz and one more flight to Sao Paulo, where I got lost because I didn’t know Portuguese.  Then I had one more flight to Rio de Janeiro, where my belongings were stolen from my backpack…


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Nata, Kryvyi Rih
You are the bravest guy i've ever heard
It is amazing thing you are doing!!!