View from the hill!

View from the hill!

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Rough Road To La Paz

It has been 48 hours since I left Quito and I have just arrived at my final destination. It has been a rough 48 say the least.

I wont get into all of the details bc I am at an internet cafe with little time left. But I will start with the over night bus. I arrived at the bus station on Saturday night and was the only female on the bus and the only white person. I was so nervous about the 11 hour drive I had ahead of me that my stomach felt like it was in knots. We made several stops right off the bat...picking up more people at each stop. I had the window seat next to a very large Ecuadorian man. After we were on the highway and making some ground I tried my best to fall asleep. My passport and wallet were sucure in my sports bra. My phone, ipod and camera were all tucked in my pants. My bag was looped around my legs. The most common theft on overnight buses is that the person in front of you or behind will slit your bag open and steal your stuff.

At about 130am I was really tired but both legs were asleep and I knew there was no chance I was going to get any sleep in this seat. I decided to take a walk to the back of the bus to see if there were any other open seats. I was pleased to see that the back seat was wide open. It was next to the bathroom so did not have the most pleasant scent. When I sat down i noticed another nasty smell...vomit. I got out my phone and looked on and around the seats and all i could see was a pile of something on the floor covered in newspaper. I considered my options and thought that if there was any chance at all of me getting sleep i need to stay in this seat, despite the horrible smell that made me dry heave. I was able to fall asleep fairly quickly bc i could spead out on the 2 seats. We stopped at various places on the way and it seemed like we were constantly going through very poor towns and drove mostly on dirt roads, not sure why we werent on the PanAmericana.

I woke up as the sun was coming up around 6am. As soon as my eyes were open i looked around me and could see what i had been smelling all night. The seat i had been sleeping on was covered in vomit. That´s right, I had been sleeping in someone elses voimit for 4 hours. It was all over my pants, coat and bag. I had no way of cleaning myself off, soon we arrived at the border. We pulled over on the side of the road and were told to get off the bus. That was all the direction we were given. Right awy the dozen or so men that line the streets start asking if you are going to peru and if you want a ride. I ignored everyone and held onto my belongings tight. I spotted a shack across the road which was where I had to go to get my Ecuadorian exit stamp. After getting this I crossed back over the street and found the most offical taxi i could find. I told him i wanted to go the peru imigration office. we went through town until we came acorss some baracaded roads. apparently there was some military demonstration going on which closed pretty much every road in town. This meant i had to get out of the taxi and walk. Problem was I had to idea where to walk. I was the only tourist aka white person with huge backpack in town and people kept pointing in the direction where i should walk. There was some sort of ceremony going on and the whole miliary was out in the street saying chants. I have no idea what was going on and wish I could have taken a picture but was afraid to get out a camera.

The next challenge was getting past the hundreds of mototaxi´s. These rickshaws with motors are everwhere offereing rides. I was determined not to get in one bc i heard they were not safe. However, a police office stopped me and insisted i get in one bc other wise i would get robbed if i tried to walk all the way. It was a good thing i got in this 3 wheeled motorcycle bc it was a long way to the immigration office. Once I arrived at the Peru immigration I filled out a bunch of paper work then the same mototaxi driver tried to convince me that he would take me to the airport. I knew not to fall for that bc it was 30km away. I insisted on waiting for a taxi and it took a while. I was sitting on a dirst road for about 15 minutes until a taxi came by. Then he drove me to the airport )all along the way we saw broken down mototaxi´s) but when we arrived there were huge gates up and the guard said the first flight out was at 3pm and the did not open until then. I tried to get the taxi driver to take me to a bus terminal but he did not understand and instead took me to LAN´s office in town. however, it was before 9am on Sunday so everything was closed.
Driving in to downtown Tumbes was like driving through a scene of a movie. the dirt roads were lined with huts and all the locals seemed to be sitting outside selling something. I had the name of a restaurant in town so got the taxi man to take me there. Although it looked closed after going up 4 flights of stairs there was indeed a restuarant and there were some people in there cleaning. I figured i could camp out here and figure out what to do next.

A very nice boy named Gaston came to sit with me. He lives in Tumbes and is trying to learn english so he can go to school to be a tourist officer. he was very helpful and got me the yellow pages and we tried calling all the airlines. It seemed as though the only flight out would be with LAN at 9pm. That meant 12 more hours being stuck in Tumbes, covered in vomit. I stayed at the restaurant until about 1 and at that point Gaston and his cousin started acting a little funny, trying to sell me tours of Tumbes and of the mangroves that surround the town. I told him I wanted to go to the airport just incase there was an earlier flight I could get. He called me a taxi and I arrived back to the airport.
To be continued.....

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