Marc & Nora ROUND THE WORLD 2005/2006 - Join us!

Ecuador-Travelogue  |  Travel time: September 2005 - July 2006  |  by marc and nora L.

ECUADOR

From Cusco we travelled to Lima where we only stayed 1 day in order to get a bus to Ecuador.

The bus journey was 19 hours from Lima to Tumbes, a town close to the border. We were the only tourists on the bus and when we arrived in Tumbes 2 guys approached us telling us they will bring us through the border at it is so dangerous in Huaquillas.

As there was no other option we got into the taxi. The guys spoke some English and seemed ok...
...We first arrived at the Peruvian border and got our passports stamped. I waited at the car and watched our luggage whilst Marc had his passport stamped and then I went in..(we heard so many stories about unattended luggage being stolen or drugs being put into the bags so we are very careful about it)

The 2 taxi drivers pointed out some guys and told us that if we came without guides those men would robb us...
...in fact they really tried to emphasise how dangerous this border is...

When we arrived in Huaquillas there was such a crowd of people that our taxi could hardly pass. Constantly people hit the car with sticks or other things, it was really scary. One driver had to get out to clear the way - it was like in slow motion that we proceeded.
Then a guy in a bullet proof jacket and a massive machine gun stopped the car and asked whether we had paid. The driver looked nervous and just replied "later later".

The drivers instructed us to lock the door from the inside. My god, I was really scared!
With hundreds of people around us, some dodgy men with machine guns and many other strange looking people we continued to drive slowly until the driver pulled up at an isolated car park behind some huts.

There he suddenly asked us for some extra money. He told us that to pass the bridge every foreigner needs to pay 10USD. We both knew that this was complete nonsense and refused. He insisted and when we saw a man appear from nowhere with a machine gun round his neck we didnt think much longer.
We knew that this was a complete scam but what could we do? Our luggage is in the boot of his car and we were in the most scary place we have ever seen - just wanted to get out of here as quickly as possible!

After pretending to have paid our fee the 2 guys told us that we cant proceed by car and have to walk with them to the bus office from where we take the bus to Cuenca, our 1st destination in Ecuador. From minute to minute we mistrusted them more...
...we walked with our backpacks through the crowd and finally arrived at a very dodgy looking bus office.
As soon as we arrived the 2 guys got the information of the dodgy looking office worker that there was a PARO (strike) and there werent any busses at all at the moment.

That was too much! I couldnt believe it! They asked us to get into a car parked outside of the office and they would drive us to the Ecuadorian border to find out more...
NO THANK YOU! we refused to get into this car and told them in a very direct way that we dont want anything to do with them anymore.

Opposite was an office with phone cabins and we decided to go there next to find out what was true and what was wrong!
We called the British embassy who confirmed that there was a strike that had been going on for days. The roads are blocked and bus services are cancelled but tourists may be still able to pass with alternative transportation.

So the taxi drivers from before didnt lie! but they ripped us off big time anyway! What should we do? the strike was indefinite and we had a departure stamp from Peru but no entry stamp from ecuador. Without an entry stamp we wouldnt be able to go back to Peru anyway so we took a taxi to the border to find out what was happening.

At the border we got an entry stamp for ecuador and we were told that there are taxis that bring us to the road block and then we had to walk until the end of the block and from there we had to take another taxi again.

What choice did we have? In 30ºC we took our backpacks and got into the first cab. It brought us a few kms further and then the road was blocked. Bulldozers brought enormous amounts of sand here which was all piled up to a massive wall. We had to climb this sand hill and pass hundreds of people blocking the streets with cars and trucks. The atmosphere was not tense or agressive - in contrary - it seemed that people used this strike as a "get together" and sold juices, handicraft and chocolates...

...After a few hundred meters the road block was finished and there were coaches waiting. Well, this wasnt too bad. We got into the coach and thought we would get to Cuenca now. HAHA! What misconception! We sat in the coach for ages until every single seat was occupied and then we drove for a few kilometers only to get to the next road block! This time there were burning tyres, metal cans etc. It smelt really bad and we had to climb the blockade carefully due to all the burning materials.

Behind the sand hill there were hundreds of taxis blocking the street. We walked and walked hoping to see an end of the road block but it was endless. It was boiling hot, we had the big backpack on the back and the small on on the front...and walked and walked...

and whilst walking we met Keke (Enrique), a Peruvian Musician who was travelling to Ecuador to give classes. He had 2 guitars to carry - poor guy!

after what seemed an endless walk we arrived at the end of the blockade. From there we took a pick up truck that brought us further - again a few kilometers until we saw the next road block.
The same game again - walking walking walking - i stopped a police car asking how many more road blocks we had to expect and thank god they said that this was the last one.

So after that we got a lift from a pick-up truck that brought us to a bus stop at a junction from where we could fetch the bus to Cuenca.
We arrived and the first thing the guys (Keke and Marc) bought was a cold beer. Soon after the bus arrived!

After 8 exhausting hours (instead of 4) we arrived soaken wet of sweat in Cuenca.
BIENVENIDOS EN ECUADOR!

Ecuadorian Flag

Ecuadorian Flag

© marc and nora L., 2005
You are here : Overview The Americas Ecuador Ecuador-Travelogue
The trip
 
Description:
Hello - 5 more days!!! On the 12th of September we are setting off! Our plan is to travel round the world for a period of 10 months. 1st stop: Thailand (1 month) and cambodia 2nd stop: Via Singapore (overland) to Australia where we plan to stay for approximately 4-5 months. 3rd stop: New Zealand (2 months) (north and south island) 4th stop: South America (approx. 3 months) (Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Peru, Ecuador and if time and money allows we might visit costa rica)
Details:
Start of journey: Sep 12, 2005
Duration: 11 months
End of journey: Jul 31, 2006
Travelled countries: world-wide
United Kingdom
Thailand
Malaysia
Cambodia
Singapore
Australia
Australia & Pacific
New Zealand
South America
Chile
Argentina
Bolivia
Peru
Ecuador
Canada
The Author
 
marc and nora L. is an active author on break-fresh-ground. since 14 years.
Picture of author