Buying 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.
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.