Posted by: adegraffenreid31708 | 7th Jan, 2011

Peru!: Border Crossing and Chiclayo

Guayaquil was interesting. I took my first night bus…which I was terrified of (too many horror stories). But..8 hours in bus should be done when trying to sleep, else thirst and pee becomes an issue.

So, standing at the bus station at 9:30pm, when two men walk up and i ask myself “why the hell are two men riding to Guayaquil dressed like Jedis??”.

Turns out…two monks, ala Friar Tuck. Complete with brown robes, wood crosses, barefoot, and hair shaved into a halo. They{d just walked up in a warmer cloak, hood pulled over their head, head bowed, hands clasped infront so that you couldn{t see them under the sleeves. No joke – Jedi. I did not think monks still dressed like that. It was so hard not to stare. Even better – they sat right next to me. Even better, both in front and behind me were families with young children. Talk about a nice cusion of security. There was NO ONE going to disturb me with two monks and a bunch of moms and kids, ha! So…not so bad my night trip. Didn{t sleep much, but still.

Arrived 5:30 am. WHich, considering Guayaquil is the most dangerous city in Ecuador and it was still dark out, I found myself a nice seat in the deluxe bus station (more of an airport and mall) until 7:30 when it was safer to be running around. Unfortunately, I didn{t do much that day between the exhaustion and the pain of the blisters on my feet. To top my day off, my desert at the end of the day was moldy. I was so pissed.

Next day, I managed the Malecon 2000 (massive boardwalk), Barrio las Piñas, and the Cementary. Las Piñas is a really cool place. It{s a historical neighborhood, on top of which is the fort from which Guayaquil used to defend itself from Pirates. The barrio goes along up a 444 flight of stairs – which is not easy with blisters, heat, humidity, and a scorching sun, i must say. All along are these beautiful antique buildings, and at the top is the reconstructed fort, with cannons and a light house (didn{t go up it. Took one look at the 70 more steps and was like…yeah, no).

Then, cemetary. The guard didn{t want to let me in. He made me promise not to take any pictures, and then collected my censo just to make sure. Unfortunately, all the really cool stuff was inside. It{s basically like the cemetary in Montmartre or New Orleans…only, very ecuadorian. The coolest was the Mauseleum/Shrine to Elloy Alfaro. True to my word, I took no pictures while inside the cemetary. So, of course the moment I was outside the gate and had my censo back, I took many (which turned out pretty well). So, tired, sore, I went back to my hostal for the evening.

Thus begins my Whirlwind Peruvian adventure…

Decided to take the easy, secure way into Peru  – by taking a CIFA bus straight through from Guayaquil to Tumbes, Peru and stops at both border checkpoints (which are several kilometers from the border). No fus, no taxis, no one trying to cheat me.  Only problem? 7 hours in a bus. During the day. No food. No water. No AC. No bathrooms. 85 Degrees…and humid. Basically, awful. They didn´t even put on a silly dubbed movie! I seriously thought I was going to cook inside that oven. Also, there´s not much to look at – Guayaquil to the frontera is basically ALL bannana haciendas, it´s very repetitive.

But, I survived. Border was relatively easy, just a stamp and along your way. The only real hassle (doing it the CIFA way), is all the people trying to get you to buy tours or illegally exchange money. Which, I ignored. THe border itself is rather anticlimatic – it´s a tiny little bridge over a dry, concrete water. On both sides, city. The only reason you know you´ve stepped into a different country is the sign saying “welcome to peru”.

So, on to Tumbes. Stepping off the bus in Tumbes, you are immediately overcome by everyone and their uncle trying to sell you something, be it a taxi ride, tour, etc. I immediately had a taxi driver come up to offer me a ride to another bus to Chiclayo (where I wanted to go). I was like “Sorry dude, don´t do commission scams, cya later, i´ll walk.” He was all “but it´s so dangerous!!!!!” This woman who was sitting next to me nearly fell for the whole “it´s so dangerous” bit, but I was like “Listen, he works for a commission. He´s cornering and scamming you. Look at the street, it´s not all that dangerous. Trust me, walk down a block and find an honest cab driver”. So, we did. I actually rode in one of these cool little motor-taxis, with a cab in the back. So much fun.

So, found a bus leaving for Chiclayo (wanted to get all 15 hours of bus travel over with in a single 24hr period, instead of spending two days of daylight in a bus), leaving at 8:30. THen, I proceded to eat my only meal for the next 25 hours (not that I knew…it was so gross). And, got on my night bus. More of the same – hot, sweaty, no movie. Also, this witch in front of me kept leaning back so far she was practically breaking my legs. Also, we got borded by customs police FOUR TIMES in the eight hour bus ride. FOUR TIMES. At least this time, there were no guns involved, but still…little ridiculous. Unfortunately, we arrived in Chiclayo at 4:30 AM, which meant I was at the mercy of sceaming cab drivers )at least I knew it). He kept trying to drive me places that were 100soles or so, and i was like “20 soles! 20 soles!”. He was like, “no hay! No hay! Solo a lo menos 50soles!.” I was like, BS, i know there are places cheaper, I was so pissed off at hischeating ass. Eventually, i walked out of the cab, and was like, saw a place back there. Then, I walked away with him screaming at me about how dangerous it was (which…yeah. But after 20 mins of his crap, I´d had enough. I wont knowingly be led along. Besides, there was absolutely NO ONE on the street, and would I really be backpacking through Ecuador and Peru ALONE if I weren{t a little nuts?). I had to settle for 35soles, which..yeah. But, i needed sleep and i wasn´t about to go wandering around alone in Peru at 5am..not that stupid.

Next morning, woke up, showered (HOT WATER!!), and went to see if 1) there was a tour to a ruin because getting to an out of the way ruin alone is frightening; and 2) find a new hotel. Found the tour office first. They{re all “oh, yeah! Tour of the day leaving in 15 minutes to the Pyramids of Sipan, the Temple Museum, and the Brunning Museum! Gets back at 6! 40 soles only for all day!” Which, although I only wanted to go to the first two, 40 soles for a full-day tour is not so bad, and it was with a group in spanish. So, left my bags in the tour office (a respectible one, found in the guide-book. My stuff was fin), changed some money, skipped breakfast, and was driven out to meet the rest of the group.

It ended up being this large group of Hispanics – all Argentinean, Peruvian, and Bolivian. Which was great. They were so funny amongst themselves, and many took me under because they were so fascinated by my cajones at travelling alone through Peru. I laughed so much with them. At first though, I was in a car with only three other Peruvians, two women and a little girl – with some of the most irritating voices I have ever heard in my life (this may be added to the fact that I hadn{t eaten in almost 15 hours…). I was about ready to strangle them.

Well, we started out in the site museum (entrances were extra) of Sipan (a major Pyramid structure in Peru – think Indiana Jones levels of awesomeness. Tomb robbers, amazing unexpected discoveries, an entire economy dependent on tourism, continuing excavations…). Whereby, in the museum, some silly child dropped her hat down into an exhibit a meter and a half down. At which point, idiot parent decides not to take the reasonable options of telling the tour guide or telling a museum employee, but instead decides to climb down into the exhibit to get said hat. Predictably, this ended badly – with about $250 soles worth of damaged glass and exhibit. Idiot.

Then…PYRAMIDS. These are some of the richest tombs ever found in Peru. We got to look down into the old excavations and the current excavations. Unfortunately, we only got to see the smaller pyramid. The two bigger pyramids are currently under excavation and can{t be walked on. A really cool thing about these pyramids, is that they{re adobe. With thousands of years of changing climate, the pyramids have deteriorated and now look like mountains. Unless you know that they{re Huacas (pyramids), or look exceptionally closely to see the remaining adobe bricks, they look just like the enormous rock formations in the south-west. Which, incidently, is why the tombs are relatively undisturbed, because the Spaniards walked right by them not realizing the treasure trove right next to them. Cool, huh?

So, then we went to lunch – which was at a restaurant far too expensive for me to eat at (each plate was 30 soles…about 15-20 bucks…not gunna happen), so skipped lunch and ate a handful of the popcorn (served like bread). Then, the museum of all the grave goods discovered in the Sipan. AMAZING. OMG, it is impossible to describe how enormous and incredibly intricate the goods were. It was astounding. If only cameras were allowed inside – i mean, really. It was incredible.

However, by the time we finished, the Brunning museum was no longer admitting people. Which worked out for me because the others decided instead to visit the larger pyramid complex at Tucume. Which was the other archaeological site in Chiclayo I wanted to see. So, I got everything I wanted to see over with in a single day…nice. Unfortunately, it closed as we got there, but they let us sneak around to the back (we couldnt{ see the museum). My van decided to see the inside of one tomb, which the other van got to walk around the outside of the other pyramids. I thought seeing the inside was better (I could take pictures of the outside from far away). The inside was stunning. There were incredible carved-out, thousand year old reliefs made out of adobe that still survived. And they were so intact that you could still see the story that they were trying to tell. I was soooo happy. Then, we got in the van, and told more jokes in Spanish all the way back to Chiclayo. It was great.

On a cool personal note – there{s adds EVERYWHERE for Keiko Fuerte 2011….so cool to see history I{ve studied impacting the present (Keiko{s father is Alberto Fujimori, President and Dictator of Peru from 1990-2000, currently in prison for either war crimes or tax evasion…can{t remember. Still…cool).

So, tomorrow I{m off early to Trujillo. I may still get to see Lima, since I{ve saved so much time so far :).

Till next time! Yes, I will write about holidays with dad…eventually. This was just on my mind first 🙂


wow, lexy, you’re turning into quite the adventurous traveler! i can’t believe all your 5am bus rides … crazy. buen viaje y cuidate!

*snifff* I come all the way to Ecuador for nine days and not a mention……

u get a mention!
I just haven´t finished writing it yet…
mostly cuz im busy and never around a computer