February 20th, 2008 – by: tjpbrandt
Crossing the border actually turned out to be surprisingly easy. From the bus stop in Cucuta I caught a local bus for 3000 Venezuelan Bolivaris to the DAS office on the border (I had changed the rest of my money to dollars at the terminal and a little bit to Bolivars as I wasn't sure what rate I would get but I actually got the correct and unofficial rate of 4500 Bolivars to the dollar at one of the money changers at the terminal without having to seek out the black market) where I needed to get my passport stamped which they did very quickly and without hassle. The bus driver had told me to wait at the same spot where I had gotten off for the next bus that would come pass but I quickly grew bored and hopped onto one of the motorbike taxis waiting there (despite my initial fears about sitting on a little 50cc with my 30 kg backpack on my back but these turned out to be unfounded) who took me to the DIEX office in San Antonio for 5000 Bolivars (just over 1 USD).
At the DIEX office they also stamped my passport without problem and I seemed to be legally in Venezuela! A short walk of 3 blocks up the street the buses left for San Cristobal and within 5 minutes I was on one and on my way...or so I thought. Some other travellers had gotten tourist cards while I had not and after remembering the painful and not to mention expensive troubles with passports and stamps in Honduras I jumped off the bus again to walk back to the DIEX office to request a tourist card, thus forfeiting my 4500 Bolivar bus fare in the process. The customs official still insisted that I only needed the stamp and didn't need a tourist card despite my objections so there was nothing much more that I could do and I had gotten quite hot and sweaty from walking up and down with my backpack and decided to leave it as I wanted to move on. Thus back to the bus stop and onto the next bus.