From the coast, we began our journey toward the Peruvian border passing through Guayquil, Cuenca, Loja and Vilcabamba. Each night we used the iOverlander app to find good camping spots. We slept again at 13,800 feet on a really cold night at Hermanos Prado where – in a small dining room with a very big fire and wonderful people, we ate delicious trout, drank spiced red wine and listened to music. Imagine…driving through the Andes, picking a random spot to stop for the night and being treated to this? I could be home, doing the laundry, watching television, vacuuming…this is so much better.
We camped for the next night in Vilcabamba, Ecuador. We were met by the owner who was very familiar with Spokane, Washington. He has a niece who had spent last year going to both high school and community college in Spokane. Where? What a coincidence, at Spokane Falls Community College where she had taken John’s astronomy class! A few minutes later, his brother from the hotel next door stopped by to say hello. You won’t believe it, but his daughter is married the son of one of my colleagues at SFCC, Loren. The world can be a very small place.
We knew the next day’s drive to the border would be long. We had read that, while the actual distance was not too far, the road was a single lane path for much of the drive. We were surprised to find buses, big trucks, cows and bicyclists along our way – yes, the bicyclists are taking the same trip that we are, but on bicycles…this certainly makes them our heroes! The road to Zumba was indeed a bit treacherous – it isn’t often that you find ‘guard rails’ made of yellow caution tape that says ‘Peligro!’ which means danger! But, this was one of the most spectaculars drives of the trip.
We crossed the Peruvian border at a place called La Balsa. From the looks of things, not many people cross this border. The security gate that keeps you from entering the country without the proper paperwork is a small post that is lifted by hand when the Aduanas (customs) attendant walks you through. There was no working internet at this crossing and our official used a piece of recycled paper work to process us…that’s right, he just crossed out the other person’s name, wrote Jorge’s information on top of it, stamped, signed and dated it. Oh, and he did it twice – one copy for him, one copy for us. He made a phone call to someone who gave him our official document number, which he dutifully wrote onto the two papers, and he sent us on our way. That was it – a simple truck temporary import permit and two 90-day tourist visas. By the way, he didn’t want my driving information. In typical male dominated fashion, he assumed that the car was Jorge’s. We can only hope that if we get stopped, the agent really registered our entrance with a valid number!
Today’s theme – The true definition of recycled paper!