There seems to be some confusion about what is happening with us and why we are still in Brazil. I will do a quick summary about our situation. Please note that everything here is true as of August 20, 2020 as we understand it. This stuff changes frequently!
Q- How long are you going to stay in Brazil?
A- We have no idea how long we will stay in Brazil. We are here until the surrounding borders are open and it is safe and legal for us to leave, by land, in our camper.
Q- So land borders are closed in Brazil?
A- At the time of this writing (August 20, 2020) all land borders in South America are closed to touristic travel. Some borders are allowing residents to cross in order to return to their home country. (For example, if I was from Uruguay, I could cross drive or walk across the nearby border to return home) Some borders are allowing cargo trucks to pass with certain limitations. But for foreign travelers (tourists) such as us, we cannot cross a land border anywhere in South America at this time.
Q- Does the Brazilian government say you must stay right there?
A- We are free to move around Brazil without restriction, we don’t have to stay in this location. This is not true in many countries in South America. Some people cannot leave their city or state without a government permit, which is difficult to obtain. But, in Brazil we are able to leave the city, cross state lines and visit other regions. The level of restriction varies by country and changes with each new government decree or announcement.
Q- What about air travel and air borders?
A- Air borders are open in Brazil. Tourists are invited to come and spend their tourist dollars. However, upon arrival to Brazil a traveler must present proof of COVID-19 antibodies or a negative test result. The traveler must also carry health insurance, which covers COVID-19. Most other countries in South America are closed to air travel at this moment. However, all countries have occasional “repatriation flights” which help foreigners return to their home countries. These flights can be confirmed through embassies and consulates in each country.
Q- What do embassies and consulates say about travel in South America?
Recently a Level 4 travel advisory was issued for most countries in South America and Central America. This is primarily a political move, which advises citizens of the United States of America to NOT travel anywhere, even if allowed to do so. This is often done so that people can get refunds on trips that were previously booked. It is also done to cause fear. I won’t say any more, research it yourself. But know that the embassy of the USA probably says you should not travel anywhere right now. However, if you would like to visit us in Brazil (and can meet the tourist criteria) we welcome you with open arms and a mask.
Q- What were your original plans for staying in Brazil?
We entered Brazil for the second time in January 2020. That paperwork allowed us to stay until April 18. We had planned to exit to Argentina before then. Currently we are in the country on an expired visa and our vehicle is on an expired TIP (temporary importation permit).
Q- So are you in Brazil illegally?
This is a tricky question. Technically we are now illegal, however, on March 18 the country decided to FREEZE all paperwork. We believe this means that when they open borders and reinstate visa requirements, we will have the number of days we had remaining. So when they open the borders, we would have one month to exit the country legally. We hope this remains true and can happen without penalty or hassle. But things change frequently, so we try to remain informed and alert.
Q- Where will you go next, when you are able to leave Brazil?
That depends on several factors. Primarily we need to be able to travel safely in our truck camper. So we have to watch to see what is happening in the surrounding countries. We also have to watch the weather/season. We are very far south, and some countries are very cold and nearly impassable during certain seasons. We would like to go to Uruguay and on to Ushuaia, then eventually north. But, we will wait and see what happens.
Q- Why don’t you fly to the USA to wait for this to be over?
This would be problematic for us. Leaving our camper and our belongings is risky. We have no home in the USA and renting a home for two adults and two dogs could be quite expensive. We are also mindful of COVID-19 risks with long flights, airports, public transportation, etc. The US dollar is strong in Brazil. We are able to rent a nice home for a good price. We are in a very safe location in a lovely small town. We have the ability to affordably meet our needs and control our exposure. It feels like the best choice for us at this moment. But that could change at any time.
Q- Where can I read more about this?
Our friends recently wrote about their experience in Argentina. You can read their blog post here https://www.monkeysontheroad.com/lock-down/ You can also check the websites for the consulates and embassies of each country. Although, if you plan to travel, I urge you to contact the embassy directly, as the info changes often.
If you have additional information which would be helpful to us, please share. If you have questions that were not answered here, you can comment or send us an email. If you share this information, please share it in its entirety including the disclaimer, which states this was our understanding of the situation as of August 20, 2020.