Ryan here. I am now back in CBBA after quite a trip. I thought that as all of you partnered in praying (which let me get back here) you might be interested in knowing the story.
As you have heard in the past I have had difficulty in my visa here. Because of a mistake I ended up in country with a Tourist Visa. This cannot be changed unless you go outside of the country and return with a different visa. Last week I tried to do this but was rejected at the border because I had not paid some “fines”. These fines of course seemed bogus to me but because I wanted to do everything right I came back to Cochabamba, paid the fines and went to the border this week. That is where the story begins.
I had a dual purpose in going to the border between Peru/Bolivia. One was my visa. The other was to guide some volunteers there on their way to Peru. The first border crossing was fine. The gals were from the UK and so their passports got them through no problem. I went through no problem as I had paid my fines. So far so good. Having let me out of country this indicated that everything was good with my visas.
From the first border crossing it was about two hours to get to another one. We had decided that after I was across with the gals I would escort them to a town inside Bolivia where they would spend a day before going into Peru.
When we got to this other border we found that there were blockades on the other side. This was not a problem as the town was not to far from the border. After getting our passports stamped we would just walk to town. Again, the UK volunteers went through without a hitch. When they got to mine though we had problems. The first guy called his boss, who called his boss, who called his boss. Until we got to the final guy each guy said everything was in order but that he should call and make sure. We spent a long time waiting til the final guy called me into his office.
Basically put when I got to this guy he told me that he would not let me come into Bolivia, period. Said that my tourist visa expired when I got my new visa and that this new visa didn’t count. All of which was a lie! On my new visa it said explicitly that this visa was only valid upon entering Bolivia. It has no effect whatsoever until it was stamped. Which it wasn’t! So in one blow because of his “power” he nullified both visas and told me to leave the country. It was illegal and wrong but he had the power to do what he wanted. So we left for Peru, again.
Now at this point I was really low. Thoughts were coming through my head like “I am stuck in Peru with no way to get home!” I did not have a lot of money and no ATM Card to get more. I might have had enough, maybe to purchase another tourist visa, but with the way the officals were on the border who knows if they would have accepted it. Pretty crummy feeling. There was however a bit of hope. The boss official was the one who “booted” me out of country. There was a military/police guard who was there the whole time. After the whole thing (by the way, he was one that was saying that the visa looked fine to him) he took me aside and said I might have another option. He told me I could go to Puno (a city the gals I was escorting were going to anyway) talk to the Bolivian consulate and see if he could help me. Or go back to the previous border crossing and try there. He then backtracked a bit, I think because he thought someone had heard him, and said I could go back to the other border, have them cancel out my exit stamp, and return to Bolivia and try and work it out there. Anyway, a very kind man.
We went to Puno and I struck out because it was near the Easter holiday and the Consulate was gone. So after saying goodbye to the gals I went back to the first border crossing. Now at this point I need to give some background. The blockades at the second border crossing had gotten worse. So much so that they closed that crossing for anyone traveling that road. So all people wanting to get to Bolivia had to pass through this first border crossing. Also because of Easter there were a lot of people on the go trying to get to their families. Needless to say when I got to the border there was a line like I have never seen to get through immigration. The Peru side was fine. I can tell you though that when I got to the Bolivian side I had massive butterflies in my stomach. This was my last chance to cross, and if I was not allowed, what then? There was one thing though that made me hopeful. The immigration office was overwhelmed by people. Perhaps they would just give me back my tourist visa (which they should have done at the other crossing if my new visa was not good). So waiting in line sweating like crazy, and praying.
I finally got to the desk and handed my passport open to the new visa. The guy looked at it. Found my tourist visa, looked confused, talked to a co-worker, seemed to find it ok and GAVE ME MY STAMP! I could have almost cried, but not wanting to have him find something wrong and just took the passport and left praying thanks that at least I was back in Bolivia.
Now here is the most interesting thing. I do not know if this will work, only time will tell. So, because I had entered and left so many borders the pages on my passport were very full. Because of this the guy who stamped me in had to stamp the date of entry right next to my new VALID visa. I think that we has stamping it to signify the entry of a tourist. But because it is so close to my new visa (being as there was no room elsewhere) I think that it activated my new visa, on accident? Of course there are no accidents with God. It could be that he used a border crossing and the Easter holidays to create such a line that the public officials would not have time to find any fault with a young man’s visa. I certainly think so. And whether I have the visa I have been trying to get for six months or just some more time on a tourist visa, I don’t care. I give praise to Jesus for saving me from a seemingly impossible situation. I wanted to share this with you to encourage you that your prayers are powerful, to give praise to HIM for answering with a “YES” and to thank you very much for your prayers. Who knows if you hadn’t I might still be stuck in Peru with little money and almost no way to get home (except maybe sneaking across illegally, wouldn’t that have made an interesting story :). )