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Kat & Andrew's Worldwide Adventures

Border Crossing Nightmare!

PERU | Wednesday, 23 November 2011 | Views [1513]

We purchased bus tickets from Suenca, Ecuador to Mancora, Peru and were told it would take 9 hours. Along the way, a tire blew on our bus and we were delayed to fix it. This was an omen of things to come…..

After 6 hours we were dropped off at the Ecuador border to get a stamp that we were leaving the country. We were told another bus would be along to pick us up and they continued on without us. We met 2 girls from Holland (Annekee & Sarah) and luckily Sarah spoke fluent Spanish which helped us in our ordeal.

The border officials informed us that we were to get a taxi to the Peru border so we did as we were told. We were taken to a market place where the road was closed and full of market stalls and loads of people. A man greeted us out of the taxi and told us he would take us where we needed to go so we followed him. We ended up being led to a gravel car park and Sarah asked him where we were going. He said the Peru border was still 4 kms away and then he would take us there and then to Tumbes (the nearest town). I don’t understand why we weren’t taken to the border to begin with as it is where we asked to go!

We told him we already had a connecting bus ticket and that we were supposed to get on that bus at the border. He said that our bus company only runs in Ecuador and it’s not possible that we can get that bus on the Peru side. So we became unsure about whether we should go back to Ecuador border or notWe went to a tourist office to speak to a police man and he said that no buses were going through the check point which is confusing as other people stayed on the bus when we got off. 2 men in the office offered to help us for a “propina” – a tip, not a fee. He said he would take us to the border so we all managed to pile into one car and went the 4 kms. This was a little dodgy as it was some randoms car, but there were 4 of us and safety in numbers!

We were taken to the Peru immigration office and the men told us to leave our bags in the car when we went in to get our stamps. We refused and took the bags with us. After we got our stamps we were told we weren’t allowed to go through the border on foot and we needed to be in a car or bus but that no buses were coming to that border. We talked to some other tourists and they said that they had just come from a nearby bus station and were going into Ecuador. We spoke to some more people and they said they were also going to Mancora but that there were protesters and the road was closed and dangerous with riots and that they had been waiting for 4 hours until it was safe for their bus to come through. The 2 guys who were “helping us” said that they would take us to Tumbes. We only wanted to go to the nearest bus station so we could get onto our next bus which we already had tickets for. They said that bus doesn’t go there.

Eventually we agreed to go with them to the bus station to get any bus we could but there wasn’t a bus station. We were taken to where the road was blocked off by cars and trees that had been on fire. There was a large group of people not letting any vehicle get through. They were protesting that the road to their village needs to be repaired and they were blocking the main highway that is well cared for to try and get some attention. The men who had driven us there then demanded $2 each for their services when they had said that any tip would be fine! After begrudgingly paying them, one of the men said that we only had to walk 300m and there would be more taxis on the other side for us so we began to walk. Groups of people kept shouting at us that we shouldn’t go! Here, we met another backpacker, Antonio from Costa Rica, who joined us on our adventure.

After 20 min we had discovered that we had been lied too and that the man had been lying to us all along. People passing by us said that there was nothing for hours so we told the man to leave and that we would walk alone and of course, he demanded more money. We walked for an hour and a half with backpacks each weighing 16KG in the hot sun down the highway with no civilisation around us. Many others were walking in either direction in work clothes, with children, or other travellers like us. A tuk tuk went passed and we were bartering prices to get a lift when a car full of protesters started throwing rocks and sticks at it so it took off. They wouldn’t allow any vehicles on the road so it wasn’t safe to get a lift in one! We even passed a group of angry people cutting off a motorbike, surrounding it, yelling at them and trying to slash their tyres!

A bike with a tray went passed (which didn’t seem to affect the mob) and offered to take our bags for $5 each so we took them up on their offer despite the fact they were ripping us off blind. They went too fast for mere walking though so it was an effort to keep up with them to make sure they didn’t take off with our bags. Another hour and a half later of power walking and jogging we were all exhausted, sweaty, sun burnt with aching feet and backs. We had finally arrived at the final blockade desperate for water as we hadn’t had enough with us. And of course, the blockade ended right at that moment and cars began to drive through…. But we couldn’t have known, we had been told that the protesting had been going for days (probably another lie). It is very fortunate that my stomach had finally come right by this time as trying to find a private spot to go to the loo would’ve been difficult!!

We still needed to get to Tumbes to see if we could get a connecting bus with the tickets we had already purchased, but by this point we were over it. The 5 of us each pitched in $10 to get a taxi almost 2 hours to Mancora. 4 of us were squished uncomfortably in the back for the whole journey. After 12 hours of travelling, we had finally arrived! We all shared a dorm room for the night.

It was a very unfortunate situation but one hell of an experience and story to remember! Welcome to Peru!!!!!

 

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