Posted by: Colin | September 20, 2010

Border Bashing

The bus tickets we bought from Cuenca was for Tumbles but the route took us to Machala first. We got on the bus and settled into the ride. The next thing I remember was Jamie grabbing me and telling me to get off the bus. Little did I know, he had been having several strained conversations with the bus conductor about how best to get there.

When we got off the bus Jamie explained that we were going to hop across the road and get another bus heading for Tumbles saving us journey time. We grabbed our bags and hopped over the busy Pan American Highway and boarded a South bound bus.

When we got closer to Tumbles we hit the Equadorian Customs who needed to search the bus. We got off and left the coppers to inspect the bus. Strangely we weren’t search and there were no dogs in sight. Jamie and I could easily have been holding 20kg of Cocaine.

We arrived in Tumbles and proceeded to find a taxi. We walked across the river which is the theoretical border and tried to find a taxi. Two lads approached us and offered to take us to the Peruvian immigration and onto the local town to get a bus to Mancora for $5 (LP says $12). We followed them to their taxi which turned out to be down a dark alley. What was equally strange was that both of them got into the taxi. Jamie and I looked at each other. We both exchanged our concerns with a glance.

We arrived safely at Peruvian immigration. As we rolled up to the station, which was a random building on the side of the road, he asked from $50. He explained that this was needed to prove that we had means to make it through the country. Unsurprisingly, we declined to give him the cash.

When we stopped he then said that one of us should stay and one should get our passports stamped. He explained that this was the normal procedure so he couldn’t drive off with our stuff in the trunk. Another worrying conversation tallied up. We got our passports stamped and got back in the taxi.

Mid way through the 8km journey from the Peruvian immigration to bus station, an argument broke out. The taxi driver was demanding to be paid ~$50 for the journey to the bus station or $80 to go straight to Mancora. When we explained this was out of the question he slowed the taxi to a crawl. At this point it was pitch black and we were in the middle of a desert, miles from the nearest town. By this point all four of us were raising our voices in our mother tongue with little real communication. Personally I was fuming and ready to punch both their lights out. Jamie was the voice of sanity and tried to resolve the situation with what little Spanish he knew. Finally we agreed on a price and the taxi resumed its normal pace.

When we arrived I exited the vehicle and grabbed my bag. I hand over the $25 we agree and was thankful to be on our way. One of the most frustrating things was that one of the punks wanted to shake my hand. I agreed only to get rid of them both forever.

We relaxed in the bus station and reflected on the madness that preceded our arrival. I found some solace in Ron. Finally we joined the queue for the bus to Mancora. Scarely we got our fingerprints and photos taken again.

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