Breakfast then on the road at 8am to head for the border of Peru. To leave Ecuador we had to go to this very basic building on a dusty middle of nowhere road so they could stamp our passports toshow we were leaving. Then we entered this manic mad no-mans land in between the borders where there were lots of cars, trucks, people millinh about, market stalls and shops with dust flying everywhere.
While Bob and Donna sorted out the truck paperwork to allow us to crossover, I was assigned to get the following items from this mad place, charcoal, milk, bananas and lipton tea. Lipton tea, not a chance, milk and bananas, not a problem, charcoal, absolute nightmare! Carbon is the Spanish word for charcoal but apparently they didn't understand that and thought I wanted soap (or maybe they thought I needed a wash).
Ian and Leah had come for moral support and a general nose, but Leah took it upon herself to help me get charcoal. Now Leah's Spanish involves saying what she wants in loud slow English with a slight Spanish accent, I have never seen anything like it, it is the funniest thing I have ever seen or heard, the looks of the shop owners and customers was priceless! Though give her dues she had the idea of drawing charcoal, which didn't look anything like it but we got there in the end, with the entire shop laughing and trying to work out what our pictures were. Turns out in the end that no-one had charcoal and that we would have to wait and buy it in Peru- phew!
I think it is safe to say I have not been assigned to buy anything else since...hmmmmm.
Afterwards we went to change some dollars into our new currency for peru, Soles, which are approx 2.8 to the dollar. Lined along the street are these people sitting individually with a little table with one drawer sitting on a little stool. You find out which one is selling the best exchange, do some haggling then exchange while watching them carefully as they count your money, feeling the notes best you can to ensure they are kosher. Its best to go as a group obviously, one for safety as in a mad place like that you have to move quickly, watch your bags and pockets and get on the truck as soon as possible. Secondly to get a good deal and know they are out numbered! Even better if youknow someone who had been there before and could recommend which table to go to!
We had to move quickly as the police wanted the truck moved, so everyone jumped on for a 5 minute drive to reach the Peruvian border where everyone had to jump off again with there passports. Each time we enter a new country we have to fill in a form of the usual name, address, reason for coming to Peru and forhow long, queue and get our passports stamped, then we are in! (I must point out that if you are ever crossing this border make sure you do not need the toilet, by the Peruvian paasport office are the worst toilets I have ever seen so far AND I had to pay for the privilidge!)