Crossing into Peru

Looking back at our first border crossing, oh, how cute and innocent we were. Now, we are more used to, or hardened by, being stopped by police, military, customs etc. And the fact of the matter is, 99% of these guys are not “out to get us”, instead they are nice and friendly, but also curious about who we are, and our vehicle.

Today, we crossed from Bolivia into Peru; there are some blogs that state that the Peruvian side can be an issue, so we had some minor apprehensions, but compared to where we were 2.5 months ago, our apprehensions were very minor.

Bolivian immigration, to stamp us out of Bolivia, and Bolivian customs, to surrender our temporary vehicle permit were friendly and easy. Now, over to the Peruvian side…

Peruvian immigration was quick and easy, as were Peruvian customs; the only issue, or rather confusion, at customs, was that our vehicle is from the US, my driver’s license is from the US, yet my passport is Swedish. Not a big deal, just unusual.

50 feet after Peruvian customs, there is a stop for the Peruvian police. Given that we have already entered the country, through immigration, and that our vehicle is permitted to be in Peru, through customs, there is really nothing for the police to do.

Pero. Not that I want to be too cynical, but it seems as if as soon as we pull up to the police chain across the road, the “let’s ask the tourists for money” game starts.

I walk into the police office with the normal documents: the temporary vehicle permit and my driver’s license. The police office in charge starts the game off by first inspecting the temporary vehicle permit – note that this was just issued by Peruvian customs 50 feet away – and then asking if I have an international driver’s license and vehicle insurance.

Strong opening move on part of the police officer: we have never been asked for our international driver’s licenses before. I counter by asking for a few minutes and walk back to the casa and get our full folder of docs.

The police officer and I walk into the office, and from our well-organized folder I pull out my international driver’s license, and a sub-folder containing our insurance info.

The police office inspects my international driver’s license, and then our insurance paper work. Nothing wrong with the driver’s license. But. “This vehicle insurance paperwork, is this a copy?”.

When the lack of an international driver license didn’t work, and when the lack of insurance didn’t work, trying a play based on the possession of a copy of the insurance doc, as opposed to the original? Well played, sir, well played.

However. For those of you who have ever played hearts, in particular against the Hofvander family, this would be known as “lady time” (representing playing the queen of spades, the worst card that you can lay down on an opponent…).

In the spirit of playing hearts, I whipped out the original of the insurance paperwork from the folder, held it up in the air, and then slammed it onto the table, whilst shouting: “Take that, Peruvian boy”.

Not really.

I produced the original, and that was that.  The police officer did try a final weak attempt at asking for some cash: when all the paper work had been inspected and approved, he stated that their computer system was down, but that a few dollars would make sure we wouldn’t have to wait for the system to come back up. I misunderstood on purpose, said Gracias, and started to leave.

He then said “No” and led me into a different room, where there was a working computer system. On the PC, he verified that our temporary permit was valid. His final attempt was to ask for a few dollars because we were now friends. I stated that I had no dollars, or any other kind of cash, but that I had plenty of credit cards and if there was a specific charge, this is how I would pay.

He smiled, said “No”, and away we went.

From our blog posts, it may seem that the police or the military asking for money is a common occurrence. Not so. Although this particular gentleman wouldn’t have minded a few dollars, he was overall friendly and helpful, and his push for a payoff was very soft. And our experience so far is that the police and the military are helpful, and we have stopped quite a few times, unbidden, to ask them questions.


2 thoughts on “Crossing into Peru

  1. Glad to hear that you are adept at handling these little situations. Without your cool and organized approach, it could put a damper on the trip and add to stress.

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