|Nov 21, 2008 - Mancora, Peru to Guayaquil, Ecuador|
|(click to enlarge)||(click to enlarge)|
|We always like to confirm we're on the right road|| ||Lots of bananas growing in this part of Ecuador|
|We left our wonderful retreat at Mancora Beach, Peru; heading for our final country in South America, Ecuador. We had read in our Lonely Planet book that the border crossing into Ecuador at this point was the worst in South America. We can't say that it was the worst, but it was definitely the most disorganized!|
Normally, when you leave a country, you pass through Immigrations and then Customs of the country you are leaving. Immediately - as in the same building, or at least across a small walkway - you pass through Immigrations and then Customs of the country you are entering. Generally speaking, the country you are entering doesn't let you enter without this processing. Also, we have to pass through Customs of the leaving country since we are driving a personal vehicle. We have a "Green Book" that has all the documentation for our vehicle. For each country we pass, the book has a 2 part page - 1/2 the page is taken out when we enter a country and the other 1/2 is taken out when we exit. These pages have all the details of our vehicle.
This has been a very simple, painless process till we reached the Ecuador border! Leaving Peru was okay, Immigrations was at the border. But the Immigrations folks told us that the Customs was "very clearly marked" about 2 km. down the road at the bridge! This was different, but we were fine with it, since a bridge should be obvious. Well, "the" bridge we needed wasn't so obvious. The reason is that for about 2-4 km., we were in "no man's land"! It was a zoo! We didn't get photos fearing what would happen if the people saw our camera. Matamoras, Mexico nor Ciudad del Estes, Paraguay couldn't do justice to what we saw. Pure commerce at such a large scale we could barely pass. And the obivous bridge - not so obvious!
We did finally find the bridge, processed with Customs out of Peru. Fortunately, the Customs office for Ecuador was directly across the street, so we processed the truck into Ecuador fairly quickly. Actually, too quickly - they never even looked at the truck, except peaking out the window to note the license tag was the same as the page in the Green Book said. Talk about trafficing whatever into Ecuador!
Now for Immigration - just down the road "you can't miss it". Well, this took about 30 minutes to find. It was about 5 km. outside of the town, in a small tent on the side of the road. We could remain in Ecuador indefintely without any paperwork. This has got to be the smuggling capital of the world! We did finally process through Ecuador immigrations, and were on our way to Guayaquil.
So regarding this being the worst border crossing in SA, the worst as far as trying to be legal, but when we did finally find where the buildings/tents were, the folks were nice and the process was fairly quick.
Now in Ecuador, we tried to confirm that we're on the PanAmerican highway. Not so simple, as the Ecuadorians don't call it the PanAmerican highway, but have a local highway number. But we were heading North into Guayaquil, so all was fine.
What we noticed first is GREEN! Yes, we were finally out of the desert and into lush, green vegetation along the road. What a pleasant change. Bananas must be a major export for Ecuador, see the photo of all the bananas growing along the road.
We made it into Guayaquil without any problems. However, we've succumbed to a little bit of North American tastes. Yes, we are actually staying at a Best Western Hotel! We looked at 3 different hotels, and 2 of them didn't have any parking. The third was out of our price range. We were walking in downtown, wondering what to do, and there before us was a Best Western! We're here, and glad to have a place that actually gives shampoo & has parking!
We've driven 7,992 km. (that's 4,955 miles) since we left Asuncion, Paraguay. Time to rest our buns while we go through the process of shipping the Hilux to Panama City, Panama. More of these details later.