Ahhhhh so I actually made it across the border! I’m actually gonna break the day down a little bit because it was very surreal.
5.30am – woke up after 4 hours sleep and immediately administered the culo injections. At the time it was doable, when I look back, I feel physically sick. But hey! I did it. Hadn’t eaten since 1pm yesterday arvo so went downstairs for the breakfast that I assumed was included in the steep price- Nope! Decided I’d get my bus ticket and find something to eat there. Tried to work out where the bus station was in spanglish – it wasn’t going well so I eventually got a taxi BUT because I knew I was leaving Peru I had no soles left on me, only dollars. The hotel I was at had no money changing place around it so I got a pretty bad rate off them paying in dollars and got 10 soles change, 5 of which went to the taxi.
7.30am– get to the bus station which was downtown, no cash point or money changing there! Market stalls on every road, people selling everything from pet food to toilet seats-amazing! Figured I’d get my ticket and then go for a wander and get food with my 5 soles change… Nope! Get to buying my ticket and only have a 20 dollar note, no singles and the ticket was 12 dollars. Had to get 10 back, and give all my soles instead. Sitting down, I watch a french couple next to me come back multiple times with food goodies from the market stalls whilst my stomach is eating its self. I dig in my bag and find 1 sole and 10 cents so with that I manage to buy a banana and 5 bread rolls, that should keep me going for 9 hours, and they’re sure to give us food on the coach right…
9.30am– get on the bus, realise very quickly that when the site said refreshments available what it actually meant was stop at every town for people on the street to get on the bus and sell you food. Which I would definitely have done…if I had but 1 sole. But I did not. I prayed we would cross the Ecuadorian border soon so I could get some water as I had a sip left.
1pm– some police officers get on the coach to check our passports, we almost drive off with one of them. Pretty funny, and what I considered a very easy border crossing.
1.30pm– we get to the actual border. We get off the coach, I go to immigration and within 5 minutes realise I’ve lost the all important piece of paper that allows me to leave the country. I search and search, but it cannot be found so they guy says I have to pay a 28soles fine. Fine, but I don’t have any soles, all I have is my 10 dollars change from before because all my bags are on the bus. As I turn and gesture to the bus I realise that it is DRIVING AWAY. I start panicking, I can’t run after it because I’m not allowed to cross the border yet and frankly my body is failing. Luckily for me, senor border man liked my passport photo so after flirting a bit I get off with a 10 dollar fine and walk across the border in blistering heat, telling myself not to panic, and finally find my bus on the other side. Phew.
6pm– I managed to get some water and fresh plaintain chips now I’m in Ecuador, but it is now pitch black and I have no idea how I’m going to get to Vilcabamba which is where I’m staying next. I also really need the toilet because I downed two bottles of water. I ask the man next to me whether we’re near by and he tells me he’ll take me to the bus I need to get and help me buy a ticket. After rushing off the bus, we run to another part of the station where I get a ticket with minutes to spare. He runs me to the platform, puts in a dime for me to be able to get through and then shouts which colour it is. What a legend. I get on, sit down thinking how difficult it would have been had he not helped me before remembering how badly I need the toilet…at that moment, the bus sets off…and the bumps are no joke.
7.30pm– after being told Vilcabamba was 45 minutes away I am now getting slightly worried that we may have somehow passed it. The mountain has lots of tiny towns all over it where people have been steadily getting off (there are no bus stops here you just tell the driver when you want to get out). After doing some meerkat staring, I ask a guy with glasses (we four-eyes stick together) who says I just need to hang on. Soon after, we get to Vilcambaba, I get a room at the closest hostel I can find and here we are!
The bed was the hardest I’ve ever slept on, there are massive gaps between the windows and the walls but you know what?! I’m so happy. This is what I’m talking about. Got me quarter of a chicken, some fruit, and some water. The journey has officially begun. Went to bed watching the Avengers, and woke up to this in the morning 🙂