Saturday, February 23, 2008

Worst / Scariest Day of our trip so Far / border crossing hell


Before we tell you about our adventures.. we are both okay and everything turned out fine in the end.
We arrived in Tumbes, in far nothernest Peru, ready to head via international bus to Quito, Equador. We had read many horror stories about taxis and abandoning you in a no-mans land town which isn’t policed so we thought we would be extra vigilant..
On our exit of the Bus in Tumbes a Panamerican Bus tout said he could get us across the border on the bus no problem.. Si was a little wary and so checked out another recommended company first who advised they couldn’t go directly to where we needed.
Back to the guy…he quickly arranges a taxi and before we know it we are bundled with all our gear into a taxi and he is on the phone booking our tickets. Good so far….

On immediate entry into the car they lock all the doors and advise us to take off all our watches and jewelry and any money and hide it.
It took over an hour to get our exit stamps at the Peru border, in a stiflingly hot room…all the time the guy and his friend stood guard on us and made sure no one jumped the queue.. So we figured we had a couple of okay guys.

We then drove in to know mans land where he explained we would be taken to the bus station. We avoided the main checkpoint and headed an incredible crowded street…we were the only car and as soon as we were entered people crowded the car and tried to get our stuff out. We began to panic…but the guys assured us we were fine.
A armed security guard then stopped the car and demanded a bribe of $20 each to allow us up the street…we didn’t have the $40 in cash so offered him 100 peruvian soles he took it and walked away. We drove about 5 yards and turned down a side street where we were ordered to get out the car. At first we refused and said this wasn’t the deal…we were frightened that they would leave us in no-mans land in a seriously crimes ridden area. Anyway the guys after much argument said it was okay and the bus station was not far but they couldn’t take the taxi into the Equador side of town (over the bridge).
We bundled our luggage and kayaks up onto some type of bikecart we followed closely always watching our backs.
We made it to the bus station at 1pm and they put our stuff straight on…we sighed a big relief…
Until we were told we had to leave the gear there and take a taxi to the Equador immigration station 5km outside town to get our visa’s… our bus left at two..no problem.. and the guys accompanied us to makes sure we would get the bus.
An hour later we had just had got our visa’s… one of the guys had taken enough money to buy our tickets and would make sure the bus stopped at the border to pick us up…The other guy however bundled us back in a taxi…we were starting to think we had lost everything. But to their honesty the taxi flagged down the bus in the middle of the highway we got off exchanged money for all the taxis and there services and we were on our way to Equador. We sighed a huge breath of relief.
At 12pm (Midnight) we were awoken suddenly and ordered to get off the bus by Equadorian police brandishing huge semi guns. Bleary eyed we stumbled off the bus and we quickly realized we were separated in to two groups Women and children and Men.
Cheryl was really scared.. the police checked Her passport and couldn’t find the Equador stamp at the same time we watched as the police pushed and frisked a guy on the side of the bus.
The police quickly passed Cheryl over.. but Si didn’t have same luck and was taking a serious questioning. Cheryl was ushered back on the bus wondering if they had a problem with him.. She sighed a big relief when she saw him back on the bus safely.

It is one journey we care not to repeat ever again and we both agree no matter what a flight would cost it’s a better option.

Sorry, no pictures available, wasn't going to get the camera out.... No chance

2 comments:

Adam, Jayne and Safi said...

OMG, guys! I don't check in on the blog for a wee while and look what happens! What the heckers was going on there?? Scary business. Get a flight next time for sure. SO so glad you are both okay, and your gear too, but you must have been pooing your pants for a while. Take care guys and keep living the dream! So amazed at everything you're doing... how will you ever get back to 'normal life' after all this??
Miss you loads,
Jayne XX

PS Cheryl - I spoke with Russ Kinaman from VASS tonight - he said to send you both his best regards. I'm hoping to meet up with him and the guys down at Sugarbush for lunch on Friday if the weather behaves itself.

Adam, Jayne and Safi said...

OMG, guys! I don't check in on the blog for a wee while and look what happens! What the heckers was going on there?? Scary business. Get a flight next time for sure. SO so glad you are both okay, and your gear too, but you must have been pooing your pants for a while. Take care guys and keep living the dream! So amazed at everything you're doing... how will you ever get back to 'normal life' after all this??
Miss you loads,
Jayne XX

PS Cheryl - I spoke with Russ Kinaman from VASS tonight - he said to send you both his best regards. I'm hoping to meet up with him and the guys down at Sugarbush for lunch on Friday if the weather behaves itself.