October 24th 2003
Today we drove from Barranca along the Panamerican to Paracas National Park. In essence it should have been an easy day but it turned into what can only be described as a nightmare day. The closer we got to Lima the worse the Police became. In the North of Peru we had been stopped many times and the Police had always been friendly and interested. Most didn't even check our paperwork. Sometimes they asked if we had any cigarettes, but as we don't smoke they were happy with a dip in our sweet bag.
The different attitude of the Police around Lima was immediately obvious as soon as they stopped us. Straight away they started to make up fake "infractions" claiming that the car was illegal. The first time we were stopped the policeman claimed the bull bar was illegal. (Just about every pickup, truck and taxi in Peru had a bullbar). He showed Ed the "little book of infractions" which talked about dangerous modifications. Ed pointed out that it was not a modification but part of the orginal spec. The policeman gave up but still said it was illegal to have a right hand drive car. Most of the police up north who had even bothered to comment on the RHD had thought it was funny. In the end he waived us on.
We got stopped a further 4 times in the space of about 3 hours. Each time they tried the same story: illegal bullbar, illegal to have a RHD, illegal to have a RHD without a "permiso". Each time we fobbed them off with the fact that customs had passed the vehicle and that we had spoken to the Police at Macara, Sullana and many other places and there was no problem with the car. Each time they gave up.
Finally after we had passed Lima we were stopped for speeding. The Policeman said we were doing over 90kph. No chance in the Landy - we were doing about 75kph. Either way we could not prove it and he showed us the fine at 310 soles (about £50). He insisted we pay him or go back to Lima to pay there. In the end we paid up, but with retrospect we should have said as "gringos" we carried no cash and would need to go to the station to pay with travellers checks or started with a much lower amount. We'll know next time.
Needless to say we were pretty cheesed off and every time we saw a cop we became paraniod about getting pulled. Just outside Paracas one spun his lights at us and we just kept going, pretending we had not seen. He didn't bother following us.
That night in Paracas we had dinner on the seafront and watched the sport of all the restaurant touts trying to catch one of the only 7 gringos in town. We stayed at the Hotel Mirador, the same place we stayed in 2000. It still has a pool and plenty of parking, but now it has hot water too!