Our First Day in Peru

September 13, 2015

6:00am - We take our bags from the bus and get our bearings.

6:15am - We catch a taxi to take us to Piura’s main bus station.  We don’t have any Peruvian Soles so we have to pay in USD, and we get ripped off.

6:30am - We arrive at the bus station to discover the station is some empty lot on the side of a dirt road.

6:35am - We realize there is no way in hell this dump has an ATM and we turn to a main road and turn right and keep walking to try to find an ATM.

6:50am – We find a gas station, check it out and discover it is very primitive and has nothing close to an ATM inside.

6:55am – We find another gas station across the street and check it out.  Eureka, there is an ATM inside.  I try to use my debit card twice with no success.  We decide to keep walking in the same direction.

7:10am – We notice carrying our two bags, plus our bags of food are heavy.

7:15am – We decide to turn around.

7:30am – We decide to go into the gas statin with the ATM again and try to use a credit card for a cash advance.

7:35am – We realize we haven’t set up a pin for the credit card and are still without the local currency.

7:40am – We discuss our options and translate a note asking to exchange our $10 USD to 30 Soles.

7:50am – A woman overhears our troubles and speaks to us in English.  She tells us to buy something from the cashier in USD and ask for Soles in return.

7:55am – We discover the minimum charge for such a transaction is $20.

8:10am – The women traded 31 soles for our $10 bill.

8:15am – We discuss how Ecuador has gotten incredibly more expensive over the last two years.  What she had told me was exactly what I had predicted and told Sylvie earlier this month.  She said that the government has drastically raised the import tariffs in hopes of forcing Ecuadorians to increase their domestic production.  In the short-term it has simply driven up costs of nearly everything within the country.

8:20am – Sylvie and I find the dirt road where our bus is to depart on the half hour till 9am.

8:25am -  We attempt to walk the other way and we discover an ATM.  It’s yellow and Sylvie says, “Oh, Scott! A yellow ATM, I have a good feeling about this one”.

8:30am - The ATM takes my only ATM card and issues me a receipt in Spanish.

8:32am – We starts considering out options and Sylvie and I split up and try to tackle the problem in parallel.

8:45am (Scott’s Time) – Scott goes into a car rental facility nearby and learns the woman in front speaks ‘un poco’ English.  She calls the number on the ATM slip and I give her the debit card number to key in.  She tries this twice and tells me that the number is coming up as incorrect.  Shit!

8:45am (Sylvie’s Time) – Sylvie rallies a group of 3 or 4 people together, none of which speak English, and learns that there is a bank nearby that should be open on Sunday.

9:10am – We arrive at the bank and discover that it will open today at 11am.  We park ourselves on a bench.

9:15am – Scott calls his bank and they tell him they can FedEx a card to him but they will need to know his exact location in 5-7 days and that he will have to be there to sign for it.  That is almost impossible.  We decide to stay around and see if the bank can retrieve the card for us.

9:55am – Walk around grocery store and admire the relatively low prices for food.  We can tell already that Peru is much more sophisticated than Ecuador

11:00am – We go to the bank and have to plead our case to the security guard to let us through.

11:15am – Using Google translate we ‘poorly’ communicate with the bank tellers.  They say there is nothing that they can do and that only the boss of the machine can have it opened

11:40am – We make our way back to the ATM machine and ask around how owns the building.

11:50am – We discover that the owner is a ‘Global Man’ and is not around and is not around today and ‘may’ be around tomorrow.  We acknowledge defeat and give up on the manner.

12:00pm – Scott finally successfully contacts Ally bank only to have the conversation disconnected midway thanks to poor Internet and cellular signal quality.

12:15pm – We decide to head to the hotel we had originally booked for tonight and plan to use the time today to figure out our next move(s).

12:30pm – We come across a money changing station and Scott changes $400 USD into 1,280 Peruvian soles.

1:00pm – We finally get to our hotel, after a 1.5-mile walk in the dessert heat carrying bags on our front and back.

1:05pm – We learn there is no Internet and that the hotel has no water currently.  We decide to leave Piura and head to Piata.

1:20pm - We arrive at a bus station (different than the original bus station we had initially been taken to) after a 15-minute ride ($2USD) in a 3-wheeled taxi that was powered by a motorcycle.

1:25pm – We buy 2 tickets to Piata using our student IDs and get a quick bite to eat at the station.  Scott realizes he can set up a PayPal account for Sylvie as a way to send cash between their checking accounts free of charge, thus allowing Sylvie to take out cash using her ATM card.

2:00pm – We board our bus to Piata.

2:02pm – Sylvie falls asleep

Sylvie falls asleep the first opportunity she gets en route to Paita, Peru

2:40pm – We arrive at a Piata bus station

2:41pm – Try to figure out where the hell we are.  Chaos, consistent jackhammering, no English anywhere, no white people for dozens of miles…

2:50pm – Spend a while trying to communicate with a taxi driver about how to get to Playa de Colan, when we realize he was likely illiterate.  We decide to leave him.

2:52pm – We finally get directed to a minivan that is destined to Colan.

2:53pm – Sylvie and I look at each other and take a calculated risk that the van is likely not going to drive off and murder us.

2:55pm – We get further confirmation that we will make is safely to Colan after all (two other woman join us in the van).

3:00pm – Sylvie second-guesses the research she has done so far on this alleged beach.  She read that Colan is a beach yet undiscovered by tourists.  We’ve taken an overnight public bus, a motorcycle taxi, another public bus, and now a person’s minivan to get to this off the grid beach.  We are definitely “Ditching The Map”.

3:40pm – We finally leave for Colan beach.

4:00pm – We arrive at our final destination only to find a beach and one dirt road.

4:10pm – After walking down the dirt road we discover several small ‘shops’ selling drinks and treats.

4:25pm – We check out a few rooms in some of the local Hospidejas.  The first place was in a fancy (for the beach) place that offered to rent out their entire third floor.  We had our own bedroom, extra room, patio, and dance floor.  They were asking 80 Soles ($25).  The second place was a house owned by an older couple.  The many seemed to be “not quite with it”…but we think he just hadn’t aged too well.  The room he showed us was in the read of his house, unattached.  The room had one double bed and an attached bedroom.  The man had said it was built within the last year, but it definitely wasn’t modern construction.  The place wasn’t as clean as the first place, which was a restraint at well, but it was right on the beach and had a patio that overlooked the sunset.  He had initially asked 70 Soles for the room.  We negotiated down to 50 Soles.  We told him we would think about it and he came on after us offering 30 ($9.40) Soles a night.  We went to another couple of places but nothing that caught our fancy.

4:50pm - We had planned on taking a look at some places near the larger beach 2km away but figured it was just easier to figure something out now.

5:00pm - We went back to the guy and said we’d take the room.  He tried negotiating again and said 50 Soles.  We felt bad and said that 40 Soles would be fine.

5:15pm – Scott calls Ally Bank and gets them to send him a new ATM card.  He also puts Sylvie on the account so she will have a card too.

5:20pm – We stroll into the city and buy a few beers to drink while enjoying the sunset at our newly rented room.  We get the impression that people are unhappy we are here.  No one smiles or talks to us.  Sylvie suggests that maybe their thinking, “Shit, the white people have finally found our spot!  It’s only a matter of time now.”

6:15pm – Watch the beautiful sunset.

7:00pm – Go out for dinner to the only restraint that is still open.  We notice that no one is outside.  The area feels like a ghost town.  We question where everyone could have gone.

7:30pm – Eat a large Ceviche Mixto and a dish that contained beef and fried plantains (chicharon)

7:45pm – Play with adorable kitten.

8:30pm – Make it back to our room and call it a night!

The small town of Colan, Peru definitely has us ditching the map! Here is a video of our guest guest room. (click to watch video)