It’s time to switch it up a bit and give you a live-action story. Here’s a bit about our journey to Peru and into The Amazon. It’s a good one, I promise.
Begin by taking an overnight bus from Guayaquil to Chiclayo, a semi-coastal desert town.
Remember, it’s impossible to sleep in overnight buses because people love their lights and playing loud music videos from their phones without headphones.
Cross the border at 2 AM and almost enter Peru without a passport stamp. Take note after the fact that the exit and entrance stamps are at two separate desks right next to each other in the same room, something we have never seen before. Beware.
Spend a few days in Chiclayo. Get the good vibes from Peru. Eat some questionable ceviche.
Leave from Chiclayo on Friday for Tarapoto, the gateway city into the northern Amazon.
Immediately feel like busters because our 11 AM bus decides to leave at 1PM.
Joke about the condition of the bus and the misplaced front grill. Come to find out there is a reason for this. Oh, and note the boxes of baby chicks on the roof?
Contemplate paying double to jump ship to a different bus twice before even leaving the parking lot.
Finally leave for our “15 hour” journey through the mountains only to smell electrical burning four hours into the trip.
Bus breaks down in the mountains, in a cloud of fog, next to absolutely nothing. It’s 5:30 PM on Friday.
ETA of rescue bus is 11 PM, which in Peruvian time means it might arrive by the next morning. Maybe.
Proceed to watch the initial, contending bus drive past for the third time that day. Feel heartbroken.
Start hitchhiking with a few other deserters. End up in another bus shuffling on our knees through the crew galley in order to get to the world’s most comfortable bus seats. Hallelujah.
Stop in Jaén for the night, a town 10 hours before Tarapoto because we need to sleep.
Bought another ticket at 7 AM on Saturday for our second attempt at Tarapoto. This one is in a van.
Turns out the van doesn’t leave until it’s full, which is almost ninety minutes later. But this van is bright and shiny, so feel hopeful.
Driver continues to stop on the side of the highway or drive awkwardly slow. All while sitting on the back bench seat, which is easily the least comfortable ride we’ve taken to date.
Inquire about the reason for all of the stopping. Are told there is a police check point around the corner and the driver doesn’t have the right papers so we’ve been stopping for the better part of three hours in the hopes of intercepting some car registration to make our journey legal.
Question what in the hell is going on.
Steve starts to look like his eyes are going to pop out of his face and start pulsing, Beetlejuice-style. Confront driver for refund or insistent travel. Driver opts for *illegal* commencement of voyage.
Never get stopped by police.
Told we have to transfer cars three hours from Tarapoto. Wait there for almost an hour for that car to reach capacity. Steve gets the worst seat, or lack there of, yet again.
Arrive in Tarapoto a 8 PM on Saturday, almost 36 hours after we arrived at the original bus station for a “15 hour ride”.
Steve says, “I feel like a crushed aluminum can.”