Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Crossing Over (Ecuador to Peru)

Attempting to leave Vilcabamba & Ecuador, I asked the locals for the best way to do so.
The lovely people of Vilcabamba told me the route from Vilcabamba and South is shorter in distance, but takes more time. Even so, it has better views and I woudn`t regret taking it.
The timings of the Vilcabamba people was about 28 hours of travel until I reach Chachapoyas. This is how it went (times are estimated)
Waiting for the morning (and only) bus from Vilcabamba to Zumba at 06:00, I met an Australian couple, and not too many words were said before we found out we all are headed to Chachapoyas. The bus arrived at 07:00. It took us hours to get to Zumba, where we had o wait 2 hours until an open-sided truck left towards the border.
The ``main bus station`` is a flat dirt parking-lot. Open-sided trucks with different destinations filled the platform, but for some reason, all trucks had the same time of departure. That`s right - all & only buses leaving Zumba in all directions - leave every day at 14:00.
In all the ``hundred trucks leaving at the same time`` racket, we somehow found the right one.
The Ecuadorian border is easy and simple. Problems start trying to get your stamps on the Peruvian side. One of 5 old shacks is the right one (with the man and the desired stamp). Guessing correct, you are asked endless amount of questions. Then, before stamping your passport, you have to fill out forms with the local police station, which is located 200m in another (hidden) shack. After doing every thing we were asked, the stamp guy asks me to pay a 1 sol fee, for the good life of the children of Peru (or something else made up...), I really didn`t want to pay the clear ``bribe``, all I had was a 100sol bill. Showing it to the stamp guy, he just pointed t the door (the biggest problem in South America - is change).
From the border, we took a ``colectivo``. It`s a station-car taxi, but not private. Not private simply means that there is always space in the vehicle. This time we were 10 people in the car. A lady with 4 children in the front sit, 4 grown people in the back sit, a man in the luggage compartment and the driver. 2 hours later we were in San Ignacio. It was already dark and we were hungry and tired from the long travel. We found a hostel and ate dinner, going to sleep, we knew we just past half of the traveling distance.
The vans leaving San Ignacio were our forth kind of transportation vehicle we took. Another kind of ``colectivo``. This time, we counted 21 people on the small van. 3 hours until Jaèn. From the ``van-station``, we had to wait again, and so we grabbed something to eat. With the last bite, the van driver enters the restaurant and rushes us to his van, waiting just for us.
It was an hour and a half to reach Bagua Grande. Stepping off the van in Bagua Grande, we found out the next transport ``station`` is far away, and we can`t walk the distance. We took a ``Moto-Car`` (Tuk-Tuk), which took us to a private taxi station (arguing, we found out there is no other way - or is there?). The price sounded ok, and the driver promised to leave right away, and so - we took the bait.
The next three hours of my life passed really fast and slow at the same time. How could this be? Fast - because the driver thought he was on Formula1, and did not slow down even after nearly crashing head to head with a huge truck. Slow - me wishing the horror would end, helped time pass as slow as it could.
About 15 minutes before arriving, I got the balls to ask the youngster with the wheal to please slow down. It was clearly too late, as the road was clear and strait from there and on until Chachapoyas.

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