Bagua, Peru – A rustic border

Border crossing La Balsa (Ecuador) to La Balza (Peru) is quite straight forward. Only try to avoid weekends since the internet which arrived in these countries as a necessary part of the migration process doesn’t work then, and this might cause waiting times. The Ecuadorian customs officers uses his satellite phone instead, his only other means of communication, and after 10 trials he manages to talk to his superior to get permission for us to leave the country without the usual procedure. The only delay here is that we have to take photos of him in front of our truck, beside our truck, and in our truck – not so many gringos pass by here.
The migration officer in comparison caused me a lot of worry, since he didn’t understand if we were entering of leaving the country until we finally left his office. (Is my Spanish that bad?) Thus he refused a passport stamp, forcing us to walk back from the Peruvian side, because we couldn’t enter the new country without departure stamp from Ecuador. “Do you enter or leave?” he asked again. Gosh! He still didn’t get it. Give me that damn’ departure stamp, don’t put it on an empty page of my passport, but right beside the entry stamp. Thanks, bye.
Now nothing stands in the way of entering Peru, and with some permanent smile and an interested look on our faces (we have to listen to extended lectures of the immigration officer regarding the merits of Peruvian sights and climates) we get hold of 183 days duration of stay – whether we’ll need it or not, visa extensions are expensive in this country. The sugar cane chewing customs officer with the soccer field-big flat screen TV has also no internet access today. After endless trials, just when deciding to write the papers for our truck manually, luckily the internet connects. Maximum length of stay for a vehicle is three months. Both border crossings are free, we managed them despite technical problems in 1:45 hours. Money can be changed at both sides of the border, 1 US$ is about 2.65 Nuevo Soles (PEN).
The gravel road is getting better towards San Ignacio where the first gas station in Peru is found at S 05°08’45.0’’ W 79°00’33.1’’ at the north side of town, some others at the southern end. There are 100 km more on gravel before reaching asphalt – altogether 245 km track. The nature is worth: massive mountains, covered with green, and a wild river snakes its way through the narrow valley to Jaén. At the first toll station after entering the highway at Chamaya on Carretera Transandino # 5 east the cashier is at a loss what to charge for an RV. It’s neither a “light vehicle” nor a truck. Finally, we may leave without paying anything.
In hot Bagua we sleep at the government’s truck scales (S 05°43’52.6’’ W 78°38’19.4’’). Since traffic falls asleep over night, it turns out to be quieter than expected. Bathrooms can be used.

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