Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Happy Cookie Border Crossing: Peru – Ecuador

Often when I decide to leave a place is a spur of the moment decision. I woke up in Mancora, Peru and knew I needed to leave for Ecuador. I bought a ticket to Guayaquil then from there I would go to Montanita. My friend I met in Huaraz recommended it to me and I love word of mouth recommendations. I said goodbye to my American boys and as I was leaving one of them offered me some cookies. Now one thing about me is I love cookies. My mom has a photo of me as a child covered head to toe in chocolate from one cookie. So I grabbed a few cookies which weren’t ordinary cookies, if you know what I mean. I had tried them before and nothing had ever happened so I thought there would be no problem. I was on my way alone again and travelling to a new country. New adventures and discoveries lay ahead of me.
It was a bit of a wait for the bus and as I was sitting on the side of the road I was starting to feel really strange. All the hairs on my skin were vibrating. What was going on? Then I got really thirsty and everything around me seemed to slow down. I bought some juice but the sensation got worse. Then it dawned on me, the cookies! I was stoned. This started to worry me because I had to go through two sets of immigration. They weren’t going to let me into the country? This wasn’t good. When the bus finally came someone was sitting in my seat but I saw the Korean guy who went to dinner with us the night before. A familiar face, good, I will be ok. As the bus took off I looked at the Korean and remembered him telling me he was actually a police officer in Korea. Panic set in even more, the Korean is going to give me up!
I was lucky that both his English and Spanish were awful so I didn’t have to talk to him. Also I went through immigration without having to say a word to the officer and got my stamps. I left way too late for my 12 hour journey to Montanita. After changing buses and waiting around in Guayaquil I got dropped off in a random town an hour away from Montanita. I found out that there were no more buses to Montanita either, only taxis. The taxi driver saw a screwed Gringa and dollar signs immediately appeared in his eyes. The asking price was $20. No way! I was going to sit on that curb all night before paying $20 for a one hour ride. Luckily three local girls showed up dressed like they were going to work the streets but they were on their way to a party in Montanita. A Juanes tribute concert was going on (A super famous Colombian pop star). They were able to talk the driver down and we got it for $5 each. This was after he was going to charge them $5 and me $10. The nerve!
By this time the cookies had somewhat worn off so I was doing a bit better, although I had quite the shock when we were dropped off in the beach town of Montanita. I was thrown in the middle of a raging party. People were partying on the streets, you could hear Juanes blearing, competing with reggaton and Latin pop. Cocktail huts lined the streets offering anything you could imagine for $1.50. I discovered later Montanita is the Cancun for Argentineans and Chileans and it was currently their university break. It was Saturday night, there were no rooms available anywhere. My skankly clad friends were very helpful and stay with me while I searched for a room. A guy offered to take me to a place he knew of that was cheap. I followed across a bridge to another part of the village. Great this is where it all goes downhill, I thought to myself. His place had nothing as well but I went to the place next door that didn’t have rooms but you could camp and they had tents to rent but none of the hostel workers were there. It was 1:00am by this point. I was super tired after my long journey and coming down from the cookie high so when a hippy Argentinean offered me his tent I accepted. I wasn’t too sure where he was going to sleep but at that point I couldn’t care less. I crawled in my sleeping bag and past out spooning my backpack while the party raged on outside.

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