Dawn broke and the immediate comparisons with Ecuador were the colour palette and landscape: where southern Ecuador had been about lush hills and mountains covered in rich, green vegetation, the scenery on the approach to Piura was yellow and brown dominant, and flat into the far distance, a sandy, dusty scrubland occupied by some spindly bushes and trees. Rubbish evenly littered the place, introducing a splash of colour to the otherwise neutral setting. The sun rose quickly, highlighting a bright blue sky strewn with a splattering of cirrus clouds.
I rubbed my eyes. It had been another long night but the surprising comforts of the Loja International bus had enabled me to grab some dozy snatches of sleep on the trip from Loja, Ecuador to Piura, Peru.
At daybreak the roads were dominated by hoards of moto taxis (think tuktuks) – red, yellow, blue and white – whizzing along and darting in and out of traffic. By 7:00am they were matched in numbers by cars and collectivos (minibus taxis/buses). There were people everywhere, crossing roads and catching lifts and rushing about to get to work and school. The city was alive with voices and traffic and movement.
The bus had left Loja at 11:00pm, making what felt like a continuous downhill journey, the brakes grinding and the vehicle lurching for the first few hours. At 03:30am we reached the Ecuador-Peru border at Macará. Everyone had to disembark and queue for an exit stamp (it was also necessary to hand back over the immigration card from when one entered Ecuador, although those who had lost it or never received it simply had to fill out another one then and there).
Walking across the unlit bridge of what was effectively no-man’s land, Peruvian immigration were waiting to check you into Peru – another passport stamp for a 90 day tourist visa, another Andean immigration slip. I passed up on changing some dollars from a short, old guy offering ‘soles, soles…’, but it’s good to know there is that option (instead I took a taxi to a dodgy little street in Piura where I was given a crap exchange rate, but at least the money was legit and it was enough to get me out of the place). A few hours later I arrived into the early morning energy of Piura.
So here I was, in Peru with it’s dry heat and what already felt like busy, crazy chaos. I had a few Nuevo Sol and a bus ticket onwards to Trujillo. I felt ready for some new adventures and places and people. I was curious and a little apprehensive, having been told all sorts of stories about this country. Please be a safe place, Peru.