Somehow managed to convince myself to leave Lobitos a few days ago, though I genuinely hope I make it back there soon. After saying goodbye to some amazing friends and crying my way through the desert the Ecuadorian border, I braced for another contentious round of "How Much Grief is Customs Going to Give Me For Buying a Motorcycle Outside of the US?"
The answer was "lots". After trying my best to plead with customs in Spanish, some English, and a few caveman-esque hand gestures and grunts, I was sent away empty-handed. Strangely, the Ecuadorian customs office is about 3 miles inside the country, so you could physically ride off into Ecuador without clearing the vehicle at customs. I considered doing this and dealing with the consequences later, but the price for being caught would be confiscation of my bike so I decided to spend the night in Huaquillas and think about next steps.
Among many things I have learned on this trip, three of the most useful things are as follows:
- When it's not going your way, there is always someone else you can talk to.
- If there's actually nobody else you can talk to, wait until tomorrow. There'll be someone else you can talk to.
- Well-timed flirting is one of the most useful interpersonal skills a man or woman can learn, especially with bureaucrats.
After almost 2 days in aduana purgatory I was finally cleared by a young lady working the customs desk this afternoon. I spent the rest of the day frolicking among mile after mile of banana trees before climbing up into the cloudy jungle of the Ecuadorian Andes.