Photos by Karla and Ivan
Text by Karla Gachet
It’s been almost a month since we left Guápulo and headed south. Leaving was the first battle won . After so many farewells, no one believed we were ever going to leave. We required the help of a grown up, Victorini, for tuning up the road-runner and making sure the trip would be in the Vitara and not hitch hiking. The gifts before departure were the most diverse and practical: the stamp of the virgin, speakers for the ipod, a hand-woven poncho, antibiotics for vomit and diarrhea, an Eskimo style hat, mints and pistachios.
We left with a triumphal optimism, ready to conquer the south. Three hours away, in Santo Domingo, our car broke down. Luckily, it was only a lose wheel. In Santa Rosa, Machala, an albino man gave the car its first oil change and we were ready to cross the first border.
“Welcome to Peru.” We had crossed the border! And then we crossed it six more times. Each time we got to the other side we were missing one paper which we had to get, of course, on the Ecuadorian side. Huaquillas, the land of confusion, where nobody knows or cares which side they belong to. The streets are full of vendors and policemen. After spending a few hours tiptoeing back and forth, our papers were finally in order and we continued south.
The beach of Máncora seemed like the ideal destination for our first stop. We encountered slender bodies, raw-fish ceviches and a million motorbike taxis. The sun, wind and warm water all spelled out paradise. Until we got robbed. The odyssey to find the robbers was worse than the theft itself. “The officer in charge of the investigation is Saavedra, he will help you find the thiefs.”
While Ivan posted notes of a juicy reward around town , I climbed on the back seat of a truck, behind Saavedra and another officer. “You do have to pay for gas you know, we wont help you for free,” of course. After hours of worthless search and of listening to Saavedra sweet talk a girl on his cell phone, “I’m your black destiny babe… are you alone… what are you thinking about…,” I understood it was all a bad joke. They took the only suspect to a “torture room” and came out smiling to let me know, “Nope, not him.”
OK. We’re out. A friend gave as a contact of a person in Lima who would help us find equipment. The landscape from the north towards Lima is pure desert. After the first thousand dunes, you stop paying attention. The most popular Inca of the desert is Inca-Cola. We drank a thousand of those along with the tastiest fish in little restaurants along the way. Life was smiling back at us as we crossed the desert and enjoyed the beautiful sunsets.
And then we got pulled over, again and again and again. The
reason? You name it. “Your license plate is to light…” What? A few bribes later we got to the jungle of Lima. Miguel took us to the ¨polvos azules” or blue powders. Here you can find everything your heart ever desired, super, super cheap. A hug to Miguel and his girlfriend, and we continued the journey south to make it in time for the Oruro Devils celebration in Bolivia. The Bolivian border was another nightmare, yet we arrived to Oruro right on time. After many hotels and motels we made it to our second destination. But Bolivia is a whole different story…