Friday, October 31, 2008

Goodby Ecuador, Hello Peru - October 31

My favorite poem, and what I think has always been my philosophy of life, is Robert Frost´s ¨A Road Less Traveled¨. And that´s what I decided to do to get from Ecuador to Peru. Not necessarily smart, but definitely more interesting.

Most people cross the border at Macaras, but I decided to take a 200km dirt road from Vilcabamba to Las Balzas.

It wasn´t a bad day, but definitely the physically hardest riding I had done. 200km of winding, steep, dirt with a couple of streams and mud stretches thrown in for good luck. Oh yeah, and did I mention the fog?

During the 9 or 10 hours it took me to get to Peru I think I saw about 5 other vehicles. This was definitely the middle of nowhere. But the scenery was spectacular

Finally I arrived at the Peruvian border. For those of you used to crossing into Mexico or Canada, this is not like those border crossings. First of all, there is nothing there. A couple of huts, and that´s it.

On the Ecuadorian side, I had to wait for the customs officer to come back from Peru, where he had gone for lunch. OK, it´s just across the bridge, but it sounded a bit strange to me.

Now, the border crossing itself is interesting.

First, you have to realize that I had just ridden in on what was essentially a narrow, dirt cowpath (in the background of the picture above). On the other side of the border, into Peru, was an equivalent piece-of-crap road. But joining these two, at the border itself, was a beautiful, two-lane paved highway that must have stretched for all of 200 feet! Some government official must definitely have a brother in the bridge construction business!

I asked one of the people at the border why they had built this miracle of modern engineering to join these two horse trails. The answer: ¨Maybe for when they pave the roads.... like in 50 years!

The Peruvian side of the border was equally impressive. It took a while to go through immigration because the immigration official had gone home to take a shower. Since I needed to get to the next town with a hotel before dark, I was forced (with the help of a local guy who was obviously guarding the bridge) to roust him from his shower to come and stamp my passport.

I finally made it to San Ignacio where I spent the night. Paved road in the morning... something to look forward to!

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