Wednesday, July 31, 2013

From Asuncion to Chaco region of Paraguay and then Villamontes, Bolivia. Do not use Bolipar S.R.L. Buses

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We wait. We wait. We wait.  
Bolipar S.R.L. Buses - I have never had such a bad experience in all my travels - please use their opposition!

As we continue to wait (with no reason, or explanation) we start to make friends with those who are waiting.

I find out I have been charged double everyone else for our ticket - as this blog progresses you will see this is just the worst bus company! 

So I head up and they tell me this is the minimum.  After a little success I manage to get $5 back – whoopy-doo.  Little did I know, this man would then end up on our bus.  I can see he thinks I am a trouble maker!

Finally 1.5 hours late, the oldest bus I have seen, emerges and we throw our bags in and head off.  Packs of dribbling hot food are passed out.  I wonder what the heck I have done!

I get out my computer and start to do a Word doc in preparation for a blog.
Next thing the seat in front crashes back (it was empty) and jams my computer lid under it.  I ask in Spanish if he will lift his seat, and he verbally abuses me and refuses.  A mini war emerges.  He refuses to put the seat up.  I get help and win.  I put the computer away and lock it up.  Next thing the seat is jammed on my legs and I am pinned.  I ask him to put it up 2 inches.  He starts screaming at me.  I get help again and I get out and change spots with my son.  We have 2 sleeping backs and socks on, and the bus is FREEZING.  I feel my toes will snap off.  I need to elevate them but I have no leg space. So I throw my feet onto the back of his headrest.  Oops – I hit him in the head. Secretly I am a bit chuffed at this victory.  So I leave them there.

Next thing I realise this rude man who has a horizontal seat is one of the drivers.  He has a “cama”. We barely have a “semi-cama”.  So we are the only ones on the bus who have no leg space as his seat is adjusted to allow a 6 foot man to lie flat and comfortable.

So the driver gets my feet in both his hands and gives me and almighty throw. He then picks them up again and hits me!  He is screaming at me.  I can recognise he is telling me he will throw me off at the Frontier.  Yikes – it is 2 a.m.  So I curl up as best I can and suffer.

The bus stops, and a bunch of Aborigines pile in.  these poor folk have been waiting in the freeing cold for over 2 hours.  There are kids, so I give one girl my Polo Ralph Lauren jacket.  She is only about 10 years old and doesn’t take it off the whole trip.

The night starts to get worse.  We head through Police; Army; Security and Immigration checks.  We have Seat; Passport; Luggage and personal bag searches and checks.

I get to the Frontier at 4 a.m. and am in fear I will be left.  The Paraguay Frontier is hours from the Bolivian Border.  So technically you are stamped “out” of the country, but you are still in the country.

Then the fun starts.  The bus breaks down.  Not once but 5 times.  

The driver who gave me grief has to suck and spit petrol.  He glares at me, and I give him a nothing look.  I will not engage in his fight.  By now a new driver has moved into the seat, and he gives me leg room – nice man!

We have a break and fill of fuel.  It is well into the morning and we are still in the Chaco of Paraguay.

We then get a serious Bolivian border check.  But it is not Immigration.  Out comes the luggage. We line up in the hot sun and wait to be patted, and searched. 
Along with us is the other company's bus - complete with Mennonites.

We finally hit the Bolivian Immigration.  A fat dude takes my son’s hat and puts it on himself.  Now my son is very clean. He has had head-lice in Fiji, and he is paranoid (he has spotted a boy on the bus we are pretty sure has them!).  He also loves his hat and he does not want to part with it.  So when the Immigration man puts on my sons hat and pretends he will keep it, I fear we will have a fight and be arrested.  I try to calm my son down.  Fortunately the guy gives it back off his greasy head and whacks it back on my son’s head.  But now it has his dirty hair in it and my son doesn’t want it on his head.  I feel so bad for my 8 year old.   He looks like he is about to cry.

We finally are in Bolivia.  The bus continues to break down.  The driver by now is glaring at me with hate.  We have had over 12 stops for security inspections.  We have been on this bus 20 hours.  We wanted to catch the night bus to the next town from where we get dropped off.  But the rude bus driver decides to pick on me again.

He now drops us off about 6 blocks from the bus station.  I argue with him he has to take me to the bus station, but he refuses.  So fortunately there is a little hotel near there.  I drag our bags 1 block and ask him to keep them. 

We then walk to the bus terminal.

We discover there is a mini-van in the morning and they will collect us from the hotel.

Wonderful.  We walk back and check in and discover there is only cold showers.  So we rug up and go out for dinner.  The whole meal each is less than $2.  The room is big and clean and does have TV.  I also discover in the morning there is a kitchen at the outside. I am not sure if it is for public use, but I am sure if you asked nicely they would let you. They did give us bowls and spoons fro breakfast.

I am already liking Bolivia!  And my budget sure is.

We recommend the following hotel and suggest room 18 at the rear overlooking the waterway:
Residencial La Costanera 
Dir. c/- German Busch e/Mendez Arcos y Sbte. Barrao Ville Montes, Bolivia

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