Alright! Friends and family! I have returned, five years older, but ten years wiser. Perhaps.
Our week in Huanchaco was a great time. We managed to get in a decent ammount of surfing, one day getting two boards and two wetsuits and sharing so that everyone could surf, and everyone could lie on the beach. It was a really good time watching Rylie fit into my little womens sized Billabong wetsuit. Style and grace, my friend. We had a good run of sunny days, and somehope that jerk Jordan managed to out tan me extrodinarily. I am not suprised, just angered.
We packed up for Chiclayo a couple of days before Jordan's flight. We arrove to find that very few white people come to this town, and we were quite a spectacle apparently. Upon arrival we were surrounded by gawking locals, and kids followed us through the mall to the taxis, until they finally got the courage to yell out 'goodbye!' when we pulled away. We found a nice little hostal run by some really nice people, and settled in unknowlingly for an long stay. We ate Chinese in a place that we weren't sure we were welcome: their first question was where are you from, but they seemed satisfied with our Canadian response... we are not sure what they would have said if we were American. They disappeared for a bit but did return with menus, so we ate awkwardly while the whole family next to us stared at us blatantly, one kid actually vacating his chair so that he could stand nearer and stare. Weird.
Early that morning I fell sick and was sick all the next day. It was very unpleasant, but luckily we were in a decent place with our own bathroom, so I could mourn my nausea in peace. During the day the boys went to the market, returning with crazy live animal stories, making me very glad I didn't try to go. That evening Jordan was all packed and there were hugs all around and then he jumped in a taxi and was gone. It was really weird for the first little while, feeling like something was missing. It was good to hear that Jordan made it home and didn't get the sickness!
That night I woke up dioriented hearing terrible things happening in the bathroom, and looked over to find Orins bed empty. He got terribly sick for a couple of days, lying on his bed moaning, having trouble sleeping and visiting the bathroom frequently. Having the history of Clare, Zoe and I all get stomach infections in El Salvador, I was pretty sure that this was what he had, so we started him on antibiotics. It's pretty damn normal to get a stomach infection when you go for lengthy travels, eating street meat and taking all sorts of chances. Definately worth it, though you don't think so when you are at your lowest. The pills have been working really well and I was so happy to see him sitting up the next day, even having a bit of an appetite. Only a couple days left on the antibiotics and he is doing really well now, which I am very grateful for!
In the end we were holed up in that hostal room for 4 days before everyone felt safe enough to head north, so we took a relatively short bus ride to Mancora, a touristy beach resort type place. The kind of town that always has change. Unfortunatley, Rylie managed to lose his moneybelt on the bus ride there, leaving him out some bucks and passportless!!! We were only an hour and a half away from the border... so close! And Lima is 14 hours away from Mancora!! Rylie picked up a police report, which they claimed would get us past the border, but we were all filled with doubt. We spent two nights in Mancora, but only one full day. It was a hot sunny day, and we spent it on the beach and in the water. Beautiful! The next day we decided to take our chances at the border... which we really, really did.
We headed out around 1 to Tumbes, the supposed border town. Immediately off the bus we had a group of men hounding us to take us to the border. One man was especially pushy, but a sweet talker too. He told us all the information we need to know: it was 2 soles each to the border town, Agua Verdes, which was still 15 or so min away. He also weaseled the passport problem out of us and told us he had a friend at immigration. None of us felt quite right about him, as he kept on grabbing my bag and saying 'let's go' everytime we nodded at something he said. Eventually we agreed that we would take an innocent ride with this guy to the border than wave goodbye. We jumped into his mototaxi and he drove us a block down the street, stopped, and told us we had to get into this unmarked hatchback. He loaded all our bags in as we wondered what the hell was going on. Six or seven big guys had come over and surrounded the vehicle, opening the doors etc, and one guy got in the front, while another guy got in the trunk with our bags..... No, we said. No way this is happening. This is a set up for jumping us, and we have enough problems on our hands as it is. So we grabbed our bags and headed to leave, but the guy said hey, hey, just get back in the moto and I'll take you to the border. No big deal. So unenthusiastically we put our bags back on the moto, and were unhappy to see the same guy jump in the back with them. Just wanting to get there and anxious to see what would happen with the passport, we relented and headed off.
It turned out to be quite a drive to Aguas Verdes on that moto, and half way the driver and the guy in the back switched positions. Now it made sense. We came to immigrations 10 minutes before the town, something that you would not notice unless you were pointedly looking for it. Orin and I made it through first, no problem, and waited outside for him. One guy was in the office with Rylie 'helping', and the other dude kept on trying to herd us back into the moto. This was really pissing us off, as we kept on stubbornly telling him that we wanted to wait there for our friend. I felt uneasy, so I went to check up on Rylie, and found him mid action handing money over the authority. Knowing he was bribing him and wouldn't want a witness I ducked around the corner til he left, and popped my head in. I asked Rylie if he was okay and he barely responded me, mumbling some shit I couldn't hear. Then the driver told me I had to go, I couldn't be there. I asked Rylie again more firmly and he assured me he was okay, but I knew something wasn't right. After a bit more waiting outside Rylie finally appeared. He barely replied to our questions of what happened, and just wanted to get out of there. We found out that the officer had taken 100 american dollars from him, giving Rylie no choice, almost taking it by force. He was pretty damn angry and I kicked myself for letting the driver push me out of the room, as I have some experience dealing with authorities and people trying to extort me. Rylie was in a 'lets not talk about it let's just get this over with' sort of mood, so we got back in the moto and went to the border town on the other side. The driver turned down a sidestreet, and I started getting nervous. I got more nervous when he parked beside a bunch of run down semi trailers in a corner that very few people could see unless they were right there... and the only people who were right there were about 10 dudes staring at us from all around. It was really, really sketchy. It was that terrible situation that you don't want to be in. Somehow we were. The driver told us that we had to walk around the corner and it was the border. We told him to take us there. He told us it was right around the corner and we had to walk. Some dudes were moving in. Then he told us that we owed him 36 soles. A far cry from the 6 soles he had told us earlier. I had begun arguing with him, telling him I didn't mind to pay a bit more because it was a long drive, but you can't just lie to people like that when Orin and Rylie interrupted me, telling me that we had to ditch. And they were exactly right. The situation was getting exponentially more threatening so we shoved the money in his hands, when we really just wanted to punch him in the face, and sped out of there. A block away we saw some cops and women and children and relaxed, so relieved that we had got out of that situation unscathed.... kind of wondering how. We rounded the corner to see the elating sight Welcome to Ecuador!!!
We walked across the bridge to Ecuador... and there was no immigration. Right. Great, we found out it was another 10 minute drive down the Pan American highway to immigrations. We walked a block away from the yelling hoardes of taxi drivers and vendors to have a little peace, and caught a taxi there. At immigration, again, Orin and I got through no prob, no questions, no bag checks, nothing, but he refused Rylie. I ran my mouth off for ten minutes trying to convince him to let us in, we had a copy of the passport, we had Id, we had a police report, we had entry stamps, we had pretty much all you can get without having an actual passport. This was not enough. We got a taxi back, and Rylie made a really ballsy decision. We bought bus tickets to Quito. We were smuggling an illegal immagrant across the border from Peru to Ecuador. Great..... All in all we had a damn good cover story. Any one asks, Rylie got his passport stolen in Ecuador, and we are heading to Quito to get a new one. I was absolutely terrified that we would get pulled over at that exact same immigration office, and that dude would come on the bus and throw us in an Ecuadorian prison to rot for the rest of our lives. Unlikely, but valid. Or just something would go wrong and we would lose Rylie to some quick speaking authority. We got on the bus and headed out of town. We were rolling down the Pan american when we pulled over to the side of the road, and I looked out the window to see my greatest fear had been realized. We were parked outside of that god forsaken office, and I started to pray. We sat there for what seemed like eternity, every second fearing that that dude was going to bust through the door and pistol whip Rylie in the face, and arrest me for being an accomplice. Yes... I was panicking people. Finally I felt the bus jump, and we gently rolled out of the parking lot. I was still nervous that an official was in the front talking to the driver, which has definatley happened before, but it was not so. We were elated. Our greatest hurdle had been jumped. We celebrated... too soon. Fifteen minutes later we pulled over again, and everyone was herded off the bus. Bring you passport, he said. We got out, formed a line, and he almost waved Rylie past when and involuntary umm escaped from his mouth before he realized what was happening. I cringed. 'Pasaporte, por favor´. Rylie started to mumble something about leaving it in a bathroom, but the guy didn't quite understand. He turned to me and asked me where Rylie's passport was. I needed no skill acting completely upset as I explained that we had a big problem, he lost his passport so we were on a bus to Quito to the embassy. He studied me for a moment, then broke into a 'hey, what the hell' smile, and let it go. I squeezed him gratefully on the shoulder and thanked him profusely. I love that man. We got back on the bus and were sooooooooo relived that this lie worked, and we were finally scott free, on our way to Quito.
The bus ride wasn't too bad, though I literally screamed NOOOOOOOOOOOOO when a pirated version of LITTLE MAN (NOO!!!!) appeared on tv. Volume cranked. Why! I immediately put on my headphones and cranked my music to an ear damaging volume (not nearly as damaging as watching little man yet again..) and tried to avoid being drawn to the blinking light seduction of that evil machine. Poor Rylie doesn't have music, so just ended up watching it. He too agreed it is the worst movie in the world.
Well, we got into Quito this morning, and found ourselves a really nice hostal to relax in. Rylie has spent most of the day at the embassy. 15 days to get the passport! Damn! We are hoping he can get a temporary passport so that we can dip into Colombia. We will see. Anyways, that is enough from me now. I will be seeing you all very, very soon. Only three more weeks!!! Oh my.... Love and miss you all tons, and don't worry... I have regained my sanity as fully as it ever has been.