Friday, February 02, 2018

Final: Day 3: Peru to Ecuador

I woke up in the morning, looked out the window, and saw this. This is about 12 hours north of Lima on the Pan-American Highway.

And this is a view from my seat of the inside of my bus. Argentina Jhon is sitting right in front of me.

We would occasionally drive past dry, dusty towns. In Guatemala and Peru, no wall is spared from campaign advertising. 

This is Chiclayo, and the Jesus of Chiclayo. Totally random place, right? Well, when I was withdrawing cash at the bank for my trip a few weeks earlier, I learned that the branch manager, a Chinese-American Chinese-Peruvian guy, was from Chiclayo. Small world.

This is downtown Chiclayo and it reminds me of Kashgar in Xinjiang Province. The architecture, the vehicles, the dryness, everything.

Here is a funeral home with a Ford Taurus wagon hearse!

When people think of the Pan-American Highway, they assume it's thousands of miles of straight, uninterrupted asphalt. Not so at all. A few sections are unpaved and many sections wind through cities and towns. Here, we are turning left into yet another anonymous town.

Before the border with Ecuador, we took a lunch break. It was supposed to be a breakfast break, but we were three hours late because of the radiator hose issue from the evening before. The bus's restroom is for Number One only. So this was everyone's chance at a Number Two.

The restaurant also has facilities in the back for quick bathing. After I brushed my teeth and washed my face, I hung out with this stuffed and painted iguana while everyone else had a hot meal.

As we approached the border with Ecuador, we saw the Pacific Ocean! You'll recall that because a bus recently plunged into the Pacific Ocean just north of Lima, that whole section of the Pan-American Highway was closed to buses.

The Ecuador-Peru border. It was a very quick and civilized process. The female Ecuadorean passport control and customs officers were all wearing skin tight, almost inappropriate-for-work, uniforms. And, it started raining.

After we crossed the border, there was a dramatic difference in terms of development. Compared with Peru, Ecuador seemed like a First World country. The cars were bigger and newer. The buildings' walls seemed thicker and more robust. Ecuador, after all, is an OPEC member and has oil money.

I might have been hallucinating, but I thought I saw a statue of a half jet, half shark at a traffic circle.

Around 9 p.m., our bus slowed, ground to a halt, stuttered, and stalled. This was my view out the window when we came to a stop. After a little banging of the engine with a heavy wrench, the bus started again. We traveled a few more kilometers and we stalled again. And again, we restarted.

We stopped at this restaurant for dinner while our drivers worked on the bus. I passed on the hot food and just had a couple of beers. But that BBQ grill outside smelled good. Because Ecuador uses U.S. dollars, I got my change back in Sacagawea dollar coins.

The drivers fixed the bus, for now, and we were off again.

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