Thursday, October 13, 2011

And into Peru

Today was a travel day from Loja Ecuador to Piura Peru. I really like crossing land borders in Latin America. Its chaotic at times with Gringos walking around looking dazed and confused, money changers jumping all over anyone who moves and lots of great street food.  The money changers with thier calculators at the ready crack me up. Knowing the daily exchange rate, which you can find at  does give you the upper hand. Then the conversation is usually light hearted and fun and everyone is happy. Today I got 2.60 Soles to the Dollar, the bank rate is 2.75.

My day did start with a bit of anxiety about crossing the border. I have a 1 year visa for Ecuador and it was suppose to be registered with the government office in Quito within 30 days. Well that did not happen as day 29 was the day "everything changed". I also recieved a 90 day tourist visa at the airport which is standard for everyone. So some of the options when I hit the boarder are
1. Nothing and I pass right through
2. I am forced to go back to Quito and register it
3. Go into my emergency pocket with the $50 surprise look what I found money

I get to the window and hand over my passport and paperwork, but I have an angel on my shoulders. Two Latinos were trying to cross ahead of me without a passport and were causing a bit of a fuss. The guard was being polite and showing documents etc showing they need the passport etc. This was about 5 minutes of talk while he reviewed my passport. ** Just a little note, I bent my passport open to the page that only showed the tourist visa, yup like that was going to work. **

Well the guard who was pretty amicable considering all the fuss ahead of me "cafefully opened my passport and reviewed all the stamps including the full page visa on page 1. I stood quietly and he asked if it was registered and did I have my residence card. (which I would have had of course). I calmly said. No, porque estoy veniendo antes 90 dias entonces quiero usar la visa tourista.  I got the quick knowing stare back. " I can either make your life miserable and send you back to Quito or let you through, and you know it Gringo!!   With great relief my passport was stamped and I quietly but quickly walked over the bridge to Peru.

And now into Peru. I arrived in Piura, the city within the border. I loved it at the start. It was Tuk Tuks and cabs everywhere. I jumped into a Tuk Tuk and was just enjoying the insanity of the guy weaving in and out of traffic. THEN we got pulled over by SUAT, SWAT to you gringos. The cop said hello to me then kept the tuk tuk driver for about 5 minutes. The issues was that there was gringo in the tuk tuk and they were looking out for me. OK, still good.

I then experienced my first standard Latin American scam. The driver almost got to my hotel then said, Oh No, yout hotel is dirty lets go to another hotel. Not so awful considering the new hotel was my second choice anyways and I was just enjoying the scam. We get to the hotel and he runs in, as is the case, to let them know he brought me there. It was just funny to be a part of it. The driver was asking for more $$ because the drive was further. Fine, I gave him 3 Soles (about $1) and then he wanted a tip for finding the hotel and demanded $10. I stared at him, laughed and checked in. He was following me getting louder and louder asking for his $10 when I stopped at the stairs and said to the girl at the desk. No me gusto el ladronne,  me puede ayudar o no voy a quedarme aqui.
That stopped him in his tracks and out the door he went.  Fun Times
I just heard from Jenny, her and Stuart are here after some time in Mancora. They had some shit experiences when they got here. I will share if they give me the ok. Maybe head out to Turjillo in the morning as quick as possible.

As an aside, the hotel room has a TV with English reruns. I am just staring like it is Christmas.

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