Why not to Peru?

October 28, 2007  
Topics: Ecuador, Peru

On Saturday, the 20th of October, we spent our time with Laurence and Sebastien – two French backpackers passing by Cuenca. Talking for hours the topic changed to extending permissions of 90-days to stay in Ecuador. Most of foreigners are allowed to stay in this country 90 days with a possibility to extend this permission for another 90 days for free (max 180 days/year). French couple has already done that few days ago. We were about to do the same, as we entered Ecuador in the end of July. Suddenly, Augustas hit his head on a wall. At least, he felt like. He had miscalculated the days. I hadn’t questioned his calculation. Even though a note sticked to our bathroom door reminding “Prolong your Visa!” for several weeks, we failed to do it on time. We checked once again the passports and noticed the entrance stamp of July 24. Which means… Next day, Sunday 21st of October, would have been our LAST DAY to stay in Ecuador. 90 days are not 3 months. Now we knew that for sure.

So, deadline is October 21st. Sunday. Authorities closed. If we go to the immigration office on Monday, a fine of US $200 is waiting ahead for exceeding our 90 days permit. Unfriendly officials, who celebrate feasts when collecting the sentence. No pity. Should we really risk to go to the authorities on Monday?

We decided for the safe option: Peru. A trip to the Peruvian border and back should be the best way to prolong our stay in Ecuador without problems.

Sunday morning, 5.45 a.m., we took a direct bus from Cuenca to Huaquillas, the Peruvian-Ecuadorian border (250 km, $6/person). At 11 a.m. we got out at the Ecuadorian immigration office. Still in thoughts about the possible need to cross over to Peru territory for prolonging our visas, the arrival suddenly let sun in our minds. There were two separate counters: one for the entrance to the country, another for the exit. Perfect! Wordless we got exit stamps of Ecuador. Then we changed to the other counter. We presented the passports. Silent, and with an innocent look we puzzled the official. Confusion was written in his face when searching for our Peruvian immigration stamp. There was none. He quickly understood our trick and soon we had 90 more days in our passports. That was easy. Finaly, we have a new deadline for definite exit from Ecuador: January 18th, 2008. We managed!

After feeding our stomachs with rice, lentils and egg in nearby restaurant for $1 each, a white pickup with a driver Paul stopped. The first car after only 2 minutes of hitch-hiking. Destination: Cuenca. With quite an effort we pressed ourselves in deformated positions into the by-drivers seat. There was only one seat. On the way we accompanied Paul for a visit to the brand new shopping mall in Machala, and went to Santa Rosa village. Paul is a 34-years old architect with 3 children. In Santa Rosa he had to meet his client, for whom he builds “summer house” with a nice looking swimming pool. While waiting for our driver, we played a “water mill” with 2 years old girl Maria: water taken from the pool poured over the small plastic water mill. The wheels turned fascinating well. As Maria preferred to lay on her belly while playing she ended up soaked from head to toe. A second pair of clothes did not exist. If we had known that…

ending up in a Cuencan family, after our short trip to the Peruvian border to prolong our stay in Ecuador

Back in Cuenca we were invited to meet Paul’s family. He has built his own house. A spacious, illuminated one. Quite normal for an architect. Coincidence (or destiny) wanted it that he lived only six streets ahead of us, had several relatives living in the surroundings of our house, and some time ago had two Colombian workers who stayed in our apartment. Snacking cookies with tea we chatted for an hour with Paul’s wife Monica, his three children, and his mother-in-law. At last, Paul dropped us in front of our house, and we agreed to stay in contact. We will see if we will manage 😉

Katja & Augustas