Fri 18th – Sat 19th May
I arrive at the bus stop early and get chatting to the other guys waiting. By our half 8 departure time, there’s no sign of any movement. We’re all still sat outside the ticket shop with our bags.
I go to find out and as there’s been a power cut, they can’t print off the passenger list so go in search of a working printer somewhere! 45 minutes later we set off!
The company is CIFA and the only direct service to Mancora with one a night departing at 2030 at a cost of 26$. It wasn’t on my list to see in Peru but it is a much easier, direct crossing over the border than my previous choice with no bus changes so I’m now heading to Mancora instead. The journey works the same but in reverse from Mancora to Montañita.
The journey to start isn’t bad except as most people already know about buses in these parts – super loud films and cold a/c. I have my ear plugs to combat the noise and I use first aid tape to cover up the a/c vent. I read for most of the first part and maybe doze for about 10-15 minutes before pulling into Guayaquil. Here we are told to lock up our day bags or take them with us. None of this makes sense as we’re on a direct bus so haven’t a clue what’s going on…
We get off the bus and follow the second driver to the ticket kiosk, are given a ticket for 25c and head up to the 2nd floor where we hand over these new tickets and then wait for our bus. Once here we get back on, followed by a million new people boarding here. This whole process takes well over an hour and isn’t the most welcome thing in the world at between midnight and 1am! The bus should have left around 00:20 but here they ignore departure times until the bus is full. Finally with a bus full of disgruntled passengers we leave at around 01:15!
After all this, it takes a while to settle down again – at least the bus has wifi so I can text people at home and use Facebook where the excitement is building for the impending Royal Wedding.
I think around 3ish I doze off again only to be awoken around 4am as we’ve reached the Ecuadorean border. All pile off, join a queue (which luckily isn’t too long) and get my exit stamp. All in all this it takes about 45 mins before we’re back on the bus for 4kms to get to the Peru entry point. This time for us there is no queue and we fly through getting our entry stamp with another ‘bienvenido a mi país’ from the man stamping my passport. The reason this bit is so quick for us us because there is a separate place for the Venezuelans…but we still have to wait for them! All in all the whole thing wasn’t too bad and think it took a total of 2-2.5 hours. Around 6am, we head off towards Mancora!
Despite being knackered I am however ecstatic to be in Peru. I’ve wanted to visit this country for so long and now I’m finally here…a bucket list country with as much time as I want to see and do everything. I’m looking forward to this country.
Mancora is approximately another 3 hours away. We make a stop in Tumbes.I’m not entirely sure what’s here but it’s where all the Venezuelans get off (which again takes an age) and then we’re off again. This time with pretty much the same people that got on in Montañita.
It’s now about 0800 and I’m starving. This is the first bus I’ve gotten where we make no food stops and no vendors get on selling their products! I’ll be prepared next time!
We make a stop at a check point which takes much longer than normal (a local guy behind me tells me). This is because for some reason, the bus 2 in front of us seems to be being checked from head to toe – including the pulling out and checking of everyone’s luggage! God, I hope this doesn’t happen to us – my rucksack is packed like a game of Tetris and I can’t be squishing everything back in under pressure! Luckily, after a while, it is our turn and as we all pile off, show our entry stamps and the bus is checked, nothing is removed so we clamber back on and I’m told it’s only about 20km to go…
We follow the deserted coastal path most of the way in. Kind of set in sand mountains on one side and coast on the other. This leads into a small town and at around 1030, 14 hours later, I finally arrive in Mancora!