We get to the border late in the day and I check my watch while we work on paperwork and see its 4pm. Yikes. We were hoping to ride all the way to San Ignacio tonight just to get away from the border. Thankfully the road is all paved from the bridge over the river that separates the two countries, Ecuador and Peru. We rode down a last bit of gravel and a hill and as I looked up I thought I could see pavement, but didn’t want to get my hopes up. We pull up to the Aduana on the Ecuador side first and get our bikes processed out of the country. As the agent compares our papers he points out that my papers don’t have the official entry stamp that Brian’s does. Oops…but thankfully he doesn’t push the issue. He has a young man with him, who I think may be his son. This sweet young man has some learning disabilities and I have a hard time communicating with him, but I call him Amigo and he seems happy getting to sit on my bike and have his picture taken.
The agent tells me that since this border isn’t completely connected electronically with the rest of the national recordkeeping system, he thinks we need to make a copy of our entry permits showing the cancellation stamp as we leave Ecuador. That way if we ever want to come back we can prove we took our bikes out of the country as we are required to do. So I walk across the street and exchange our joint funds from US Dollars (that’s what they use in Ecuador) to Peruvian Soles and walk across the bridge to the Peru side where the copy store (ok its a cafe with a copier in it) is located.
I get copies made and walk back while sipping a cold water (it’s gotten hot this afternoon and I’m getting dehydrated) and return the completed forms to the Aduana office. I get a picture with the sweet young guy and chat a bit with the Aduana officer. They are both so kind and friendly. Then we duck into the Police Station/Migracion office to get ourselves processed out of Ecuador.
Next we ride over the bridge and stop at the barrier at the far end.
I go into the Aduana first, but the office is occupied with a couple of overlanding friends, Sam and Erica, we finally met (after a few months of correspondence) in Vilcabamba. So we wait outside until it’s our turn. Erica tells me on their way out that the Aduana officer might need some help with data entry as he may not be able to see very well. And sure enough we have to be very careful in reviewing our documents to be sure serial numbers are correct, spelling is correct, etc.
Next stop, the Migracion office.
Here I find an arrogant man in a white “wife beater” tank top and Hawaiian print shorts who shuffles papers for a few minutes trying to look important and busy while I wait quietly in one of the 3 chairs in front of his desk. He doesn’t look up or acknowledge me at all and I am the only person in the room with him. Finally, after about 3 or 4 minutes of me trying not to laugh, he looks up and wants to know what I want. I hand him my passport and explain I would like to come into Peru. I complete the entry form, and Brian has caught up to me now too. Then we are directed to the Police Station next door to register with the National Police and have them sign off on our Immigration forms before this gem of a man can continue. So we walk over to the Police Station in turns, as one of us keeps watch from a distance over the bikes that are still over on the bridge. I had come out from the Migracion office to find some boys sitting on my bike and they ran when they saw me. Then I remembered I had stupidly left my GoPro on the bike and walk over to see if it’s still there…and it is. Must be some good kids around here.
The police station is down the hill next to the Migracion office and it only takes a minute to go inside and register online with the police.
I go back to the Migracion office, where again the agent doesn’t even look up when I enter the office. I sit down quietly and wait and finally he reaches out for me to hand him my passport. He puts a stamp in it and hands it back. That’s it, I guess….
We go out to the bikes and have maybe 30 minutes of light left in the sky, so we hot foot it to San Ignacio and find a hotel and garage to park the bikes in for the night. It’s dark for the last 15-20 minutes riding. Brian posts a photo of me at the Aduana office and some overlanding friends make a comment a couple of days later saying they hoped we got our “stickers” for the bike since the Aduana officer for Peru had forgotten to give then theirs….what?! No, we didn’t get any stickers. Brian does some research with other traveler friends who crossed recently, and not everyone got stickers. We decide to keep riding rather than backtrack a few hundred miles to the border. And other travelers keep talking about needing to find insurance but we can’t find anywhere online that says its mandatory. Brian buys some in Jaen the day after we cross in, and I have a blanket policy I bought through Motorcycle Express that covers Peru. We hear a lot of rumblings about the Peruvian police supposedly pushing for bribes more than other countries, so we opted for insurance to reduce our exposure to a situation like that, but that’s all we can do for now.
Now east, and later…into the Andes.