DAY 33 – 2/14/12 AGUARAY, ARGENTINA --> SANTA CRUZ, BOLIVIA
590 km / 79 kph ave / 128 kph max
11 hrs tot / 7 hrs mov / 1 border crossing
This morning we got to the border around 0900 and it was a sea of humanity. There were hundreds of people with dollies hauling cargo from a truck parked in Argentina to a truck parked in Bolivia. Argentina and Bolivia immigrations and customs share the same buildings at the border. The Argentina exit was super simple, as all they do is collect the temporary import permit. When we got to the next window, Bolivia customs, we were told that the system was down but might be working again in another hour. I kept checking back every 5 minutes or so, and surprise surprise, it's working again after about 25 minutes of persistence. The Bolivian official handed our papers off to a "helper" to fill out our forms for us in exchange for a tip. Although this was the least organized border yet, it still only took us a little over an hour. After crossing through the border, we had to stop 100 m down the road for the Bolivia National Police to stamp the back of our import forms. This would be the first of 4 stamps today. About an hour into the drive, we arrived at our first of three blockades on the day. We drove around the parked trucks and buses, and once the organizers at the front realized we were foreigners, we were allowed to pass, no problem. The gas stations charged us an "export price" to get our bikes filled directly, but most were more than willing to fill containers at the local price and pour them into our bikes.
Arriving into Santa Cruz was the worst traffic we've faced yet. There were very few traffic signals, and most seemed to be ignored anyways. We found a 4 star hotel 3 blocks from the plaza for $52 USD. After parking the bikes and getting cleaned up, we ate dinner at a rooftop cafe overlooking the cathedral and plaza and paid $15 USD for 4 empanadas, a sandwich, a quesadilla, and 2 beers. Fantastic!