Friday, October 8, 2010

34. Finally leaving Cuenca and crossing into Peru (01/30/08)

Finding out that my package was here, I went to the post office where they showed me the package, but would not agree to let me have it until 12 p.m. the next day after customs had inspected the contents and quoted me a price. I returned at 12 p.m. and to my surprise the customs people charged me $66! How in the world can Ecuadorian people live with this? They charge you 20% of the value they assign to the items of the package and also 20% of the cost of the shipping amount.

I reluctantly paid the $66 fee at the bank, returned and unpacked the items into my motorcycle (20kg heavier) and finally set out for Peru. Coincidentally, this was the same day as the South American holiday ¨Carnival¨ where the tradition in Ecuador is for kids to throw waterballoons/water at people. As I passed a semi on a narrow road in the mountains near Cuenca a group of kids pelted me with water balloons. I think almost every one of them hit me because I was completely soaked and stunned at the same time because there were on coming cars in front of me and I could not see clearly out of my visor. I stopped shortly after this and went back to look for the kids but they scattered off in every direction as they saw me stop.

The roads after Machala in Southern Ecuador leave a lot to be desired. The Ecuadorian/Peruvian border was not too hard to cross. I employed my night crossing tactic in the hope that the lines would be short and the extra ¨border people¨ (insurance checkers, border runners, police inspectors, and spray boys) had already went home. The only difficulty was that the customs guys told me to buy them a bottle of Coke because of how hot it was outside. Not wanting to slow the process I agreed and bought them the Coke (which they never said please or thank you for, grrr).

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