Montevideo

3 04 2008

It would be in your (and probably my) best interests if you just ignore everything below. Perhaps pretend you’ve read it. I think my brain has taken a holiday.

Uruguay started promisingly. The first day of riding to Colonia was pleasant. Nothing too stressful, a nice change of scenery – lovely green rolling fields. A few cows. Reasonably flat.

Colonia (del Sacramento) is a lovely little place on the river across from Buenos Aires, old buildings and nice café. The sunset is spectacular – the sun melts in to the river, right alongside the skyline of BsAs. But the old town is easily explored in a few hours, and left the next day. I thought I could make Montevideo in one day (only 180km). And did, but I’m still feeling it, two days later. One reason to make the trip in just one day, is the country is boring. Let me add a few o’s to that. Booooooring. Perhaps some emphasis. Booooooring. Flat and green is nice for a half day or so, but after hundreds of kilometers… Did I mention it is boring?

I had hoped to get a bus up into Brazil, and bypass some of the boring bits in the south. But the Brazilian consulate in Montevideo has other ideas about issuing visas to trouble making Australians. Clearly I must be a potential troublemaker – no other country in South America has had a moments problem with letting me in. The best advice (from the consulate) I have now is to ride to the border and see what they say.

That will be a great laugh:
“Can I come in? Err, without a visa?”
“Why don’t you have a visa?”
“The consulate said he couldn’t give me one without bus or plane tickets showing how I would enter and exit the country. I have a bike – I don’t need a ticket to ride my bike”
“Why don’t you have a ticket to leave the country?”
“Errr, hello. Bike.”
“No. Go away and get a visa. You trouble maker on wheels”.

“But its 350km (boring!) back to Montevideo!”
“You think we care?”

Actually, I expect they wont have a problem with letting me in at the border, but you never know. I will be pretty annoyed if I get turned back now – after having gone through all the work to apply for the visa and being rejected. Do they think I want to stay there? I have a ticket to Canada after all!

And on that, I bought a ticket to Canada (in part to make the visa application for Brazil easier). I’m flying to Toronto in mid May. Not the original plan of heading to Vancouver – on the wrong side of the country in fact – but a start. I decided to not use my frequent flyer points to get an essentially free ticket. Another part from normal Steve behaviour (whats going on here?). But I had reasons, or at least one: The US make transiting through their country as much of a headache as wanting to stay there for months. I turns out that technically I could not transit through the US without having a ticket, not just out of the US, but out of Canada as well. This is despite having a visa that allows me to land in Canada on a one way ticket. So, if the US immigration official was having a bad day, it would turn into a very uncomfortable week for me as well. Does everyone assume that I’m going to try and live in their country, steal their welfare?

Personally, I think we should have grown beyond all this visa crap. I think it way too much of a pipe dream to ask to start to break down the borders around the world (hang on, haven’t they started to do this in Europe?). They appear to be heading in the opposite direction over here. Never mind, just so long as they let me in. A few extra (well many) bucks to jump over the US may be worth it in the long run.

Another behavioural deviation. Today I met up with Stefan and Sabine again for a wander around Montevideo (did I mention that for some reason Germans are not considered trouble makers, and can just go right into Brazil?). We had a pleasant stroll, looked at some old buildings. Had a nice lunch – I always seem to have big chunks of cow to eat when Stefan is around… And then, we got fleeced. I’m a little embarrassed to tell the truth. Some guy managed to get our confidence, and we voluntarily handed over cash for some football match tickets. He went off, and we never saw him again. Surprise, surprise. Now it wasn’t much money, but more that we’d spend on lunch. It was terribly galling, we simply are not that gullible. Well, clearly we are. I can only claim that my brain has taken a temporary leave of absence. Hence my comment that you should ignore all I’ve just written.

Time to watch the football match on television. We’ve paid to watch the damn thing once, let’s at least see who wins 🙂


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5 responses

4 04 2008
Miguel Peirano

Hi Stephen,

It is boring between Colonia and Montevide; not so boring between Montevideo and the Brazilian border, lots of beach communities you could feel somewhat at home if you come from the coast. Whatever.

The visa question. Brazilians are very strict when it comes to diplomatic reciprocity. Recently they picked exactly 16 Spanish tourists and turned them around, in answer to exactly 16 Brazilian tourists who got bounced at Madrid airport. Brazil is big, big enough to not give a fart for what the Spanish government thinks. Translate that to Australia…

Australia is an extreme case of border paranoia, and as you probably know, only New Zealanders are allowed in Australia without a visa. Not Americans, not Brits, no one except Kiwis may enter without a visa. It surprises me to hear that you, an Aussie, claim for your right to travel around as if you had angel wings. We let you in in Uruguay because we love gringoes. Brazil doesn’t love gringoes that much, or they make an issue of their nationals having to show their bank statement before they are allowed intro Australia. Tough luck.

Cheers
Miguel

4 04 2008
Steve

I hope you’re right about it being less boring to the east. Costal communities will be great if we keep the same weather we’ve had the last few days!

I’m glad you wrote. I wasn’t aware of the visa situation to enter Australia (I don’t normally need to know that). I’ve looked into entering Australian as a foreiner, and you’re right: everyone needs a visa. That certainly wasn’t the case a few years ago. Why did they do that; when? It wasn’t publisised in Australia (at least before I left). Stupid. The current Australian government has made a big point of saying it, so I will as well: I’m sorry. Actually it’s worse than you say, even Kiwis need a visa (but it is automatically granted). The visa for most foreiners as a tourist is also fairly easy to obtain, but you are right, it needs to be done. The Brazil visa would be easy for me to obtain as well, if I had a bus ticket out of the country.

I don’t claim to have any extra right to travel around, but I can see how it might have sounded like that. I would like to see Brazil, but if I’m rejected in the name of reciprocity, I have no-one to blame but my government.

7 04 2008
Michel and Virginie

Hola !!

At the end we left the bakery…. 😉
We spend one week in Ushuaia.. and now we are in Puerto Iguazu… We have changed totaly the environement : from pampa to selva !!
We go back to buenos aires friday and we have our plane tuesday to go home…
Thanks for your message, have a nice trip. we ll follow your adventure on the website !
Que le vaya muy bien amigo !

The french team

7 04 2008
michiel

still cycling! good luck with your trip!
i’m now in el carmen.

michiel, cyclista de hollanda

7 04 2008
Steve

Two friends in half an hour! Thats a great coincidence.
Mitch and Virginie – good trip home. I’ll visit one day.
Michiel – Enjoy it over there, maybe see you in Buenos Aires next month.

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