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The Art of Buying Gas in Bolivia

Written by Kobus on November 30, 2012

no gas for youBuying gas in Bolivia is not only a joke, it's a pain in the butt. Recently Bolivia introduced a gas price for foreign vehicles at about 3 times the local subsidized price to keep neighboring countries from buying cheap gas and going home.

Selling gas to a foreigner involves a lot of paperwork for the attendants which in turn leads to some ridiculous excuses to from lazy attendants.

Here are some common excuses we heard over the 3 weeks spent looking for gas in Bolivia.

  • Sorry we do not have international receipts. (Disculpe, pero no hay facturas internacional)
  • Sorry we do not have a license to sell gas to a foreign vehicle. (Disculpe, no se vende gasohol por placas extraños)
  • Sorry we are out of Gas – this might have been a legitimate excuse (Disculpe, no hay gasohol)
  • You can only get a small amount. (Solo, diez litros. Nada mas.)
  • The receipts are locked in the office and the person with the keys is off for the day. (Disculpe, no lo tengo facturas. La oficina esta cerrado y no tengo los claves. EL jefe tiene los claves y no esta aqui hoy.)

Our Best Advice

  • Always smile and try not to get frustrated, this could prove difficult when you're on empty.
  • Say hello and ask how are you before asking for the price of gas without a receipt.
  • Negotiate a price before you start filling up.
  • If the excuse for not selling is that the manager is there, ask when he leaves.
  • Don't ever be desperate for gas. Start looking to fill up when you are a half a tank.
  • Don't wait until you are leaving town to fill up. Gas stations frequently run out of gas. If you wait, the chances of being stranded increase.
  • When you are desperate:
    • Take a jerry can or empty coke bottle and put on your best "I'm desperate" face. Usually you can get a few liters.
    • Park your car in front of the pump and tell them you have no gas left so you can't move. They'll "find" the receipts quickly, but be prepare to pay full international price.

Fill up your Jerry cans when you can.

Our Typical Gas Station Conversation

We give Spanish translations here for reference. I doubt the spelling or grammar is correct, but we were understood.

Kobus: Hello, how are you? (Hola, Cómo está?)

Attendant: Fine and you? (Bien, y tú?)

Kobus: Well, thanks. How much for gas? (Bueno, gracias. ¿Cuántos por gasohol?)

Attendant: We don't have international receipts. (No tenemos facturas internacionales.)

Kobus: I don't need a receipt. (No necesito un factura.)

Attendant: Sorry, I cannot sell you gas without a receipt, we have cameras. (Lo siento, no te puedo vender gas sin factura, tenemos cámaras.)

Kobus: But the cameras won't know. (Pero las cámaras no se sabe.) This usually seemed to reassure the attendant that cameras do not work that way and the price negotiation commenced.

Attendant: The price for foreign plates are 9.22 Bolivianos per liter. (El precio para las placas extranjeros es nueve veintidós bolivianos por litro.)

Response: 9.22 bolivianos per liter without a receipt? No, that's expensive. (Nueve veintidós bolivianos por litro sin factura? No, es caro.)

Attendant: Ok, 9 bolivianos without receipt. (Esta Bien, nueve bolivianos sin factura.)

Kobus: Nooooo (be dramatic, and chuckle). Yesterday I paid 5.5 Bolivianos per liter. (Nooooo. Ayer pago cinco y un medio bolivianos por litro.)

Attendant: Ok, seven. (Esta Bien, siete.)

Kobus: Six. (Seis)

Attendant: Ok, how many liters? (Esta bien, cuántos litros?)

Kobus: Full please. (Lleno, por favor.)

Once you have the amount of gas, do the calculation for your established rate and the amount of fuel. Often the calculations by the attendant are a little skewed, so calculate the amount and then hand the cash over. Try and have exact change as getting change back for a shady deal often proves a difficult.


#1 James 2012-11-30 14:49
muchas gracias senor

mi gusta tu negocio habilidad

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