My ride to the Peruvian border was like just another day in the office. I left Cuenca early in the morning and headed south for approximately 250 miles. I traveled past some beautiful mountains and valleys on twisty roads at elevations from 10,000 to 12,000 feet. It was a great day. The mountain air was cool and the vistas were amazing. The ride had some challenging road conditions. I also encountered some road construction which was not too bad; however, the road conditions in these areas were a bit scary. For what seemed like hundreds of miles, the road was being paved with concrete. There was approximately a one foot height difference between the lanes. This required me to travel in one lane only. The traffic was not controlled in most areas, therefore I would be riding, enjoying the view, and then all of a sudden there would be oncoming traffic with very little room to move out of the way. In those areas when the fog would roll in, it would really get scary because it was difficult to see oncoming traffic or traffic approaching from behind.
I started a slow descend from the higher elevations to the warmer temperatures after passing the City of Loja. The landscape changed from lush green forests to dry brown desert grasses and trees.
I was glad to see that the Ecuadorian - Peruvian border facility was a small one. The exit from Ecuador was easy and the entry into Peru was just as easy. Officials on both sides of the border were very nice and helpful. Border officials in Central America should take note.
I heard many negative stories regarding the Peruvian police scamming motorcyclists for money. The Peruvian police are aware that most motorcycle travelers are from outside the country. They also believe that they carry lots of money with them. One of their scams is that they request the rider’s driver’s license and import document. Then the police hold the riders hostage and want them to pay a ransom to get their documents back. While at the border I asked the Peruvian officials if there was anyone else that I should show my documents to while in Peru. Their answer was very specific. They informed me that only customs officials are required to see your documents. DO NOT let anyone else handle your documents, and make sure that you do not lose them either.
Sometimes after crossing a border the changes from one side of the border to the other are dramatic. Poverty in Peru seems to be much higher. There was trash everywhere you looked. I am not talking about a little trash here and there. The area looked more like a landfill. The lush green mountains were replaced by hot, dry, brown, dusty countryside, much like west Texas.
With the knowledge that the Peruvian police could be a problem, after departing the border area I traveled extra carefully and slowly towards my next stop. Sure enough, approximately 30 miles from the city of Piura I came to a police check-point and, of course, I was asked to pull over. So I knew that they would try their ‘let me see your documents’ scam on me. After pulling over, a police officer approached me and informed me that I had crossed the double yellow line. NOT TRUE, of course. He requested to see my driver’s license, which I handed over (a copy). Next, he requested the documentation for the GS which I refused to hand over. He informed me that he was the National Police and must see my bike documents. I told him that he had no right or need to see the GS documents. He started to get a little excited but I held my ground and refused to hand over the documents. We kept going around and around this issue. Finally I decided to show him the documents but not hand them over. So I opened the documents as a scroll and I held onto them with a death grip. Of course he wanted me to hand the documentation over to him to hold in his hands. I refused to let go of them. I said to the officer, “You can see the name, VIN number, and the two Seals of Import. He stared at me and I stared back at him and finally he handed me my driver’s license back and I was on my way.
“Welcome to Peru.”