Trip Start Sep 28, 2011
333Trip End Ongoing
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Border crossings for me have always been unnerving affairs. I'm constantly looking over my shoulder, scanning every person that approaches, and I have a serious mistrust of pretty much everyone. Added to this you have the threat of not actually being allowed into a new country for some reason, or being threatened with a ridiculous fine, or requiring a bribe. Usually they're one and the same. All it takes is for a border cop to take a dislike as he rapes you with his eyes, scrutinising every pore on your sweating face. This is the closest I come to being such a one, when handing over my passport I realise in panic I've outstayed my visa.
Apparently I have to pay a fine of 215.00 COP. This is about 80 quid. Fortunately I've met him on a good day, and coupled with Paddy smooth talking some Spanish, and that I'm only a couple of days overdue, I get my exit stamp with no further issues, and breath a huge sigh of relief. I totally forgot you are only allowed a certain number of days before you need to do a 'visa run' should you wish to stay in one particular country. With the hold Colombia clearly had on me, this could have been a hell of a lot worse.
We walk the short distance to the Ecuadorian immigration control. There is little more to tell you, save we stand in a queue for five hours. With no decent food joints, between us we eat a bag of crisps, a packet of biscuits and a bar of chocolate. I'm told not to play the guitar by the police. "No musica!" he firmly informs me. Jobsworth. Admittedly if all I did was stand in a doorway and look hard I'd probably want something to do as well. I'm thinking it was because I'm not playing Spanish tunes that he tell me off. In reality it's because I'm shit.
When we reach the passport stamp booths, we realise the nature of the problem. Five booths, four police on duty, hundreds of folk backed up out the door and down the street. We kindly decide to pretend we know a couple of American girls to let them queue jump, do the chivalrous thing and maybe get some fun out of it. It backfires when we realise they're not hot and in no way fun to be with. Paddy hands his details over out of politeness. "We'll buy you guys a drink" one exclaims as they wave goodbye and hail a cab. Paddy turns to me with his reply; "delete." It's a shame we meet them again on the bus to Quito.
It's a short taxi ride to the station at Tulcan, a border town on the Ecuadorian side. Here we just manage to fall onto the Quito bound transport, and prepare for another 5-6 hours on the road. Ecuador at first glance doesn't seem any different, but looking a little closer you can spot a poorer country. Gone the obvious beauty of the inhabitants of Colombia, replaced by a more indigenous and Indian look. The country isn't too dissimilar however, with the same rolling dramatic hills and peaks we thought we'd left behind. My observations are limited after sunset, and I settle back to contemplate the blue neon glow of the lights above my head.
Adding to our previous feast, during a petrol break Paddy and I manage a croissant with a slice of ham and half a Toblerone. Our stomachs are definitely not thanking us for the recent diet, betrayed by the smells coming from seats 14 and 15. A scapegoat is in supply thankfully, and we blame it on the yappy terrier across the aisle. When we eventually reach Quito we should really opt for good food and an early night...
By four am we're three sheets to the wind, dancing like loons and talking utter nonsense. Paddy made the sensible move of having a bottle of sambucca poured into his mouth by a sexy bar maid, while I've decided to smoke myself into oblivion. I'm following around a couple of average looking dutch girls, with similar vision to that of a bat injecting vodka into his eye. I entirely blame the bag of spicy crisps, which should really have been a steak. Paddy rounds the night off by screaming profanities at a poor girl in the bed opposite, before spewing up his half a Toblerone. Meanwhile I fall out of the top bunk yelling "of course I'm fucking OK!" Neither of us has any recollection of both events. After several hours of research and much money spent on the subject, we've come to the conclusion that you need to eat well before attempting a massive bender.