From Banos we spent virtually the next 48 hours on a series of buses to make it to Peru. From Banos we went to Ambato, Riobama, Loja and Macara. Well you can imagine how much fun that was. Considering we actually made it through Ecuador with all of our stuff (hooray!), we decided not to tempt fate and decided to cross into Peru at the Macara/La Tina border crossing on advice of other travelers and our guidebook. The more popular crossing, along the coast at Tumbes, is apparently hectic, chaotic and full of con artists, thieves, and counterfeit money.
To say this border crossing was tranquillo is an understatement. With virtually no one else at the border, save a few military guards, we had to yell and bang on the door at the Peruvian immigration office to get someone to stamp our passports. No line, no lengthy forms, no customs check. Every other border we’ve been to has had sufficient public transportation, but then again the other crossings all had lines and people. Resigning ourselves to what was sure to be a VERY expensive cab ride to the Sullana, almost 140 km a way, we were shocked when negotiations started at $5 per person. Negotiating the driver down to about $3 we sped along the road arriving in Sullana just before dusk. A city ruled by mototaxi’s, our guidebook noted that Sullana was dangerous after dark so we headed directly to the long-distance bus station.
Chugging along in our moto-taxi with our backpacks sitting on an uncovered shelf behind the moto-taxi we wove through the alleys and dry aqueducts of the city. Waiting to make a right turn back onto a road, I turned my head slightly to check our bags. Two men jumped out of the moto-taxi behind us and approached both sides of our moto-taxi. Before I knew it the man on my side was trying to push himself into the cab and had his hand on my pocket. Screaming and pushing him as hard as I could out of the cab, it was over before Danny even realized exactly what was going on. We had successfully thwarted their attempt to rob us! Shaken, we urged the driver onto the bus station. Looking back on it we can’t decide if our moto-taxi driver was involved in the scheme as his first question to us was “did they take anything?” not “Are you ok?”. Large signs in the bus station indicate to only take taxi’s and moto-taxi’s approved by the station (inevitably more expensive, but certainly more secure) due to the high number of taxi robberies and assaults. It was a lovely introduction to Peru.
Sitting on the most luxurious night bus we’ve ever been on, we quickly fell asleep and put the whole moto-taxi theft incident behind us.