Photo: MatthieuCattin/Shutterstock

Call for Submissions: Getting Visas / Crossing Borders

by Hal Amen Feb 18, 2011
Trips is looking for ground-level guides on obtaining travel visas and getting from one country to the next.
Mini-Guide: How to Border Hop Peru -> Bolivia

1. Book a bus from Cuzco to Copacabana, Bolivia — a day bus, b/c you’ve been scared off the overnighters by all the strongly worded warnings in LP, and by Jon Brandt’s How to Deal with Your Bus Getting Hijacked. As it turns out, the full-on daylight view of the Cordillera Vilcanota and Lago Titicaca is pretty sweet.

2. Listen to loud Spanish conversation after the driver picks up his buddy in Puno. For the first time, hear the word plata used to mean “money.” Smile.

3. Get off the bus with the other gringos at the border station. Drag your 50lb hand-me-down suitcase with the broken wheel up a rutted asphalt incline to the “Bienvenidos a Bolivia” arch. Bend down to pick it up whenever it bails onto its side. You’re at over 12,500ft, so budget a good 10 minutes for this walk. Stop frequently to breathe and look at the lake.

4. If you’re American, let the Bolivian immigration folks photocopy your passport as many times as they want. This will help them pass the time as you count out $135 in small bills and dump it on the table. Watch them stick the little multiple-entry tourist sticker in your passport. Feel disappointed that it costs more than a visa and doesn’t look nearly as cool.

5. Find your group at the minibus stop. They’ll all be waiting for you, since you’re the only American / only one paying out. The driver will look at his watch impatiently. Think about the meaning of the word reciprocity.

6. Be thankful Copacabana’s tourist drag is squished into one block. Locate your hostel and heft the suitcase up to your room. Three flights of stairs will take you about five minutes. Once situated, resist the urge to pass out. Instead, grab a beer at Nemo. They’re cold.

Call for Submissions

Getting visas and crossing borders are two common experiences of international travel. But they’re underrepresented in travel writing. Maybe people think the more traditional “travel experiences” — rainforest ziplining or elephant trekking or getting smashed with the Aussies from the hostel — are more interesting to write about.

To quote Lauren Quinn, “It’s not fun, there’s no scene cred, and no one likes to talk about it.”

So let’s talk about it. Trips is looking for ground-level guides on how to get travel visas and how to cross borders. If you don’t know what we mean by “ground level,” please read this: Travel Writing at Ground Level.

Some examples of successful guides include Lauren’s How to Get a Tourist Visa for Vietnam and Brandon Scott Gorell’s Border Crossing Guide: Bangkok to Siem Reap. Please note they don’t have to be in the first-person-humorously-masked-as-second-person like Brandon’s or mine above. What’s important is that they speak for YOU, not other travelers, the locals you see/interact with, or the places you transit through.

You can send submissions directly to me at hal[at]matadornetwork[dot]com. And make sure to check out our contributor guidelines if you’re new to Matador.

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