The bus from Mancora jostled and the brakes hissed. It was dark and I was groggy. People began shuffling out of the bus. I quickly gathered that we were at the border and grabbed my bag. My nerves began to act up again. I had read about this border crossing, about how it is known as one of the most dangerous border crossings in South America. We all lined up in a tiny office adjusting to the intensity of the neon lighting. Things moved slowly as then naturally do in government run offices.
My turn approached. I had my passport ready. I had calculated precisely the number of days I had been in Peru; one day shy of my allotted limit. “PROXIMO!”, the officer behind Tumbes Border Office window grumbled. I slapped my passport on the ledge and slid it towards him. He opened and took a quick look then asked for my white ticket.
When I entered Peru I was given a tiny slip of paper at immigration, which they insisted I do not lose. between there and maybe 50 meters to the currency exchange, I managed to lose it. I knew this experience would come but I didn’t anticipate any real problems.
The officer once again demanded my slip. I explained that I lost it and insured him that i was within my visas allowable dates, and pointed him to my passport’s Peruvian entry stamp with the date marked. A third, time he asked for the, assuring me that I wouldn’t be in trouble if i had over stayed my visa. At this point I was getting annoyed and stated flatly, “How much is the fee for not having the ticket?” I think he understood well and asked for something like 10 dollars.
After paying they gathered us back onto the bus, after about 20 more minutes the bus halted again. This time we had to walk a ways. The bus could not carry passengers to the border. instead, I suspect, the driver had to go have the bus inspected for drugs, while we walked across the border, not really knowing exactly where to go. Me and two other guys walked in the direction of a big building with huge floodlights.
The atmosphere was like lining up to buy tickets at a stadium, a sort of older rundown stadium. The entry was straightforward; fill out an info card and stamp the passport. The hard part was finding our bus, which was parked a ways away on the shoulder of the road with a few other buses.
Arriving in Cuenca, I had a recommendation for Hostal Yakumama so I headed there and reserved a night in their terrace, the cheapest option. For around 3 bucks you were given a hammock, a small locker, access to restroom facilities and a free light breakfast. (writing this two years later I see that their terrace has now been upgraded to actual beds and the price has gone up a bit but the place is still certainly cool.
Cuenca, Ecuador reminds me a lot of a mix of a few small Spanish towns; Mainly Granada though. It is so quiet and green. There is a stream that runs through the town and a bike lane follows it. By this point in my trip I was pretty exhausted and was ready to get to Quito. After searching and searching I found a travel agent who booked me a flight to Quito. I took it easy, just sort of milling around town for a day or two before my flight.