Friday, December 29, 2006

The Border...Peru to Ecuador

More Hijinks....
We had read that one of the better options for getting to the Ecuador border was to Taxi and then bus onwards once over the border. I suppose you can´t always believe what you read!
The exit point for Peru is a few Km back from the border and the entry to Ecuador is about 6km on from the border...leaving the gap between - perhaps a vestige of those countries war in the 90´s which cost a few thousand lives?
OK so we find a taxi, the driver quotes a very reasonable 5 soles...but we should have again listened to the internal radar when his friend, a ´guide´ who is going to ride along for security, got in.
After getting our exit stamps from Peru we head further north to the actual frontier which is basically a chaotic street market populated by money changers and oil smugglers,but for some reason we don´t cross the border but instead end up behind the ´´town´´ with the driver, his friend and a ´security guard´ with a very large hand gun holstered at his hip.
And the deal now seems to be that we are to pay the Taxi driver 50 soles and the security guard 50 soles...all because the border is SOOOOO dangerous and tourists are routinely robbed etc etc. I´m sure many tourists are taken in by this wee scam after having the bejesus scared out of them by the tales of knifings and worse, and to be fair the border is not the safest place in the world, BUT we weren´t really that keen to be taken in by a modern day protection racket and politely (...and not so politely) told them in our own Kiwi/Spanish way to ´bugger off´. Now you have to remember that at this point it´s me and Em against 3 guys, one much bigger than me, one much smaller than me and one about the same build as me...but with the advantage of a 9mm pistol...not really my type of odds. So we negotiated a lower rate, got rid of the security and managed to finally cross the border, only to realise that we couldn´t get the bus that we had been told we could get!
I guess we had got a little complacent over those last few days and that let us in to some potentially sticky situations. And to be honest it did spour our Peru experiance. From the hawkers in Cuzco to the incessant tour operators throughout the country and the scams and blatant rip offs, it is a place that perhaps has let itself be soured by the tourist dollar....Still I loved much of it but that ugly side...well...