Border Crossings

Piura Travel Blog

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Goodbye Ecuador, hello Peru

In our infinite wisdom and to save time, we decided to catch the overnight bus for the border crossing to Peru. We left Vilcabamba at 8:00pm bound for Loja (still in Ecuador) and the start of our International bus ride. I cant remember the exact price but it was around $US8...all long distance buses in Ecuador roughly work out to be $US1 for every hour of travel. Not bad. The trip was an epic 8 hr haul (well epic for a couple of little Tasmanians but is really the norm over here) and it was comical to say the least.

When we initially hopped on the bus we were patted down and checked more vigourously than if we were flying into JFK airport and then videotaped for good measure. Thats ok I thought, professional and security concious, I like that. After 10 minutes everything was going along nicely, the lights were out and the hum of the bus had us nodding off to sleep. Then the fun started. Ecuador bus drivers have a love for entertaining (torturing) their passengers with atrocious pan-pipe fueled music and this bus driver was no different. From the speaker right above our heads blasted what was possibly the worst music I had heard in Ecuador so far. Excellent. A few attempts by Anna to persuade the drivers assistant to turn it down brought little success. The worst thing was that our speaker appeared to be serving the whole bus which a quick reconnaissance mission confirmed. Excellent.

So we decided to grin and bear it, what doesnt kill you will only make you stronger. An hour or so later the CD had looped a couple of times (just in case we missed a bit the first time round) and was replaced by an in-bus movie. Great, at last a chance of sleep. No such luck. Dubbed in Spanish, the movie was a D-grade American action film in Steven Segal kind of style....lots of explosions, gun fire and fight scenes. Excellent. The story line was so minimal that even in Spanish, I could understand everything that was going on. The special effects were particularly brilliant.

Expertly timed, the movie finished just as we hit the Ecuador-Peruvian border. Having read a lot of bad things about scams on the coastal border crossing near Tumbes, we decided to try the major inland border crossing (North East of Piura). So at 3am in the morning, everyone was shipped of the bus to get the required Ecuadorian exit stamp, walk 20m and get the required Peruvian entry stamp. Not a rip off merchant in site the whole process should have taken no longer than 10 minutes. Unfortunately there was one minor oversight....the fricken customs mainframe computer in Quito was being upgraded and would not be available until 4am. Excellent. The bus having already made the crossing meant that we had to sit on the side of the road in the dark in a mosquito infected area with Peru just a stones throw away. Excellent.

Eventually we made it back onto the bus and at 7:30am we rolled into the Northern City of Piura. Peru had a different feel already; a lot more chaotic, a lot dryer and a lot dirtier.

Having stayed a couple of weeks longer in Ecuador than we had planned meant that we were short on time as our Inca Trail trek was booked for May 25th. So we made the executive decision to skip the North of Peru (including Huaraz much to my dismay) and the Southern coast and head directly to Arequipa, a town we had heard plenty of good things about. Not wanting to undertake a massive 20+ bus journey we decided to fly. Flying with LAN Peru (similar planes to AA or Qantas domestic), the tickets cost about $US140 which hit a considerable hole in our budget but we thought the time saved would be worth it.

And thats exactly what it turned out to be. Arequipa and the nearby Colca De Canyon would definitely be a highlight for us.

Hasta luego,

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Goodbye Ecuador, hello Peru
Goodbye Ecuador, hello Peru
photo by: Paulovic