This was all fine and dandy until we got to the police checkpoint again and they told us we needed to get another signature from an officer at the border. Feeling the last frays of our sanity slipping, we begged them to sign for us, and realized that the fastest way to a yes is to grease the way with some coin. Oruro was estimated to be five hours away, and we were itching to be out of the car, the toll of the days spent speeding south as fast as we could manage catching up with us quickly.
Finally feeling that we were home free, we headed on the route laid out for us once again faithfully by my phones google maps. As we were instructed to leave paved road in favor for a dirt one, we hoped that we were on the right track and kept our fingers crossed that it would end up as fortuitously as it had the prior afternoon when we met the president of Peru. As the hours dragged on, we grew wary not only of the dark clouds gathering in the distance, but the time crunch to make it to Oruro. We hoped to get there before dark, as we still had no lodging secured for the night and we heard it would be next to impossible to find with Carnaval approaching.
The road grew narrower, the muddy ruts deeper, and with each consecutive hurdle of figuring out how to pass various challenges whether it be a stream, a muddy ditch or another unmarked fork both ways seemingly leading to nowhere, tempers frayed. What had started as a jovial challenge was quickly turning us all into stress baskets, and the last thing any of us wanted to do was to be stuck on a dirt road in the middle of nowhere during a storm with no clear idea of where we were and Oruro still hours away.
What had appeared to be a quick detour ended up adding on hours of extra travel to our day, and as we finally made it back to the main highway, we came across a couple of new challenges, loads of road construction and cops with speed guns. Just when we though we would be able to speed South and make it to town in time, it seemed that the universe was determined to make it mind numbingly difficult. We had so much trouble with police already that we were in fear of being pulled over for a speeding ticket and perhaps losing the car (we still weren't sure if our paperwork was correct.) So we kept ourselves in check, maintaining appropriate speeds most of the time, and slowing quickly enough when necessary. The long day on gravel and dirt roads seemed like it was almost over when we finally approached the outskirts of the city, we cheered that we had made it, and yet our celebrations were not long lasting.
A police checkpoint pulled us over and demanded a special paper from us that we had not heard of. They said we needed a document for permission to drive in Oruro, but the office had closed early and wouldn't reopen until after Carnaval. As they searched our car and rifled though our things, I had to walk away as NayNay and Martini negotiated. I thought my head would explode after our mad dash to get here, overcoming all obstacles, only to be stopped within view of our destination. We had decided to try to avoid paying off cops as much as possible as it would quickly add up, and with our tight budgets we were hoping to save every cent we could. This episode ended with martini bursting into theatrical tears, running to the car practically shoving the cop there out of the way as she flung herself into the backseat sobbing. The cops looked horrified and shooed us away, embarrassed by the display of emotion and eager to be rid of us.
We finally straggled into town and began the hunt for lodging, investigating everything from completely empty rooms to the grimiest of hostels. Prices were through the roof and we feared that we might be spending the night in the car since no one seems willing to accommodate us. Luckily the light was with us still which made the dreary search seem less foreboding. We knew however that we needed somewhere fast, a search at night the eve of the big parade would not be fun.
Deciding that a foot search might prove more fruitful, I stayed with the car as everyone split into different directions, looking at rooms and attempting to negotiate prices. It seemed an incredible stroke of luck when we actually found a place reasonably priced with our our private bathroom a block from the beginning of the parade. We booked immediately, brought up our thing, set out a huge sigh that we had made it and prepared for three days of madness at one of the largest carnivals in the world.