Parts 1 and 2

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Part 1 – Preconceptions

Honestly speaking, I didn't know much about Peru before going there. The little I knew, was from the stories the CouchSurfers I had hosted in Argentina told me. Many of them had been to Peru before Argentina and all of them had loved it.
I knew about Machu Pichu and I knew it was the most touristy place in South America. I had also heard what they said about it being really cheap and nice but not as nice as Colombia and not as cheap as Bolivia. I had heard there were pickpockets and occasionally tourists would get kidnapped there, not just kidnapped but express-kidnapped (they put you in a car and take you to an ATM for you to withdraw your money and give it to them). I knew about Ayahuasca and that the Incas lived here before but they are not there anymore because something happened to them.

I also knew it was a big country with many things to do and see, and that a few weeks or months would not be enough. I thought it was a country worth spending a few years at.
I knew people are generally poor but friendly. I knew they are Catholic, just like everywhere else in South America but probably a bit more. And I knew it would probably be a nice place for me to settle down.

Part 2 – Crossing borders

I was wary of crossing the Bolivia-Peru border in Copacabana for several reasons. The first one being that I knew it to be the main border foreigners would use while traveling in between those two countries, and I, of course, didn't want to face the hordes of tourists, touts and everything that comes along with crossing the most popular border. But options were thin on the ground at the time, it was either that or face the 32 hours bus ride from La Paz to Rurenabaque and then another 30 hours to Riveralta in order to cross into Brazil.

In the end, it was nothing like I expected it to be. There were almost no foreigners and no one made any problems for us anywhere. It was the first of many misconceptions I had about Peru.

The second reason I was wary of using that border was that it would be the first time I would cross a border illegally. Why do I need to cross illegally? Because I'm poor, and the paperwork required to take a dog from one country to the next had taken a toll on me.
It's about 50 USD, for every country we visit. I had paid before to go to Argentina, Chile and Bolivia, after that I decided that as we keep going north. It is not realistic, neither time-wise, effort-wise or money wise, to do every paper again for every country we visit, especially in Central America where countries are so tiny. Traveling with a dog is difficult enough on its own without counting the paperwork. All the logistics involved are difficult enough to handle. Accommodation is harder to come by, food and vet costs add up quickly and discrimination is fierce, as there are still too many people out there that don't like dogs and don't understand that someone can travel with one. For example, many hotel staff or landlords can't conceive the fact that the dog sleeps in my room next to my bed, not on the street or in a yard somewhere. A restaurant owner is not happy with the fact that a dog comes with me to eat and I order an extra plate for her and put the food in a plastic bag under the table so that she can eat her meal while I eat mine, or that I take the meat out of my plate to give it to her. Or a bus driver may not be happy with me taking a black furball under my seat. All that builds up inside me as well and the rejection, stress, and lack of empathy people sometimes show, can add up pretty quickly to the many obstacles a regular traveler has to overcome with or without a dog.

Luckily, this time, there were no immigration officers anywhere to be seen between the borders, it seems most people who cross don't get any stamp or paper and those who want to get one can enter some small office somewhere if they find it. So Bong Gu and I crossed illegally for the first time but not the last one.

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