by Chris Hardie
Crossing the border from Ecuador into Peru is not the most pleasant of experiences. There were plenty of words of wisdom concerning how to, where to, how not to and where not to cross the border into Peru, from Ecuador. We crossed by taking the bus from Loja to Piura. The journey was no different than any other we had taken, but for some reason it seemed longer, hotter and more uncomfortable than any we had been on so far.
The bus was particularly knackered, the brakes emitting a horrible burning smell every time we went down a hill and there was a disconcerting knocking noise when we went over about 35mph. The noise was so bad, even the driver got out to investigate where it was coming from. Apparently one of the wheels looked a bit loose, but the driver didn’t seem overly concerned.
The touts who got on the bus were even more annoying than usual. At one point there were 21 vendors on the bus, a bit of an overkill, but hilarious to watch all the same. We could have easily eaten a four-course meal if we had bought something from everyone.
The bus stops regularly at military checkpoints, where the bus stops around until either our, or the bus drivers, documentation were verified. It didn’t quite make sense that the military were mostly interested in European and American documentation, rather than the Peruvian, as it is the Peruvians who are their main threat. In the past Ecuador has lost quite a bit of its territory to Peru and they were at war together as recently as 1999. Tensions are still fairly high, and the army actively protects its borders, especially as there are oil and gas fields along the boundary.
Perhaps it was our nervous expectation of what Peru had in store for us that made the journey drag on. Whatever it was it didn’t make the bus go any faster and it took us over five hours to reach the border town of Macara.
There were a couple of other tourists on the bus, and this was also their first border crossing in South America. No one really knew what to expect, but it wasn’t very difficult to work out. The Macara – La Tina border crossing consisted of a few buildings, which house the Ecuadorian and Peruvian immigration and customs officials. A wide river separates the two countries and the bus driver dumped us at the end of the bridge, promising he would wait for us at the other side.
The last problem we had with the crossing was the mosquitoes. Dusk was not the best time of day to be standing next to a river, filling in immigration forms, when all our insect repellent and long sleeved tops were on a bus parked up the road. The mosquitoes were particularly enjoying the fresh blood, and we were slowly being eaten to bits. Luckily the formalities were quite straightforward, taking no more than ten minutes to cross over the bridge. Desperate to get back to the safety of the bus, we almost forgot to remember the fact that we had just left Ecuador and arrived in a new country, Peru.
Coming Soon: Peru Vacations: Piura.
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