The Drive from Cuenca to Valparaiso
by Jane Pinney
[Editor’s Note: Jane Pinney was an Ecuador expat for nearly a year, who just moved to Chile, overland, with two dogs, thanks to her driver from Cuenca, Jon LaBoeuf. Jane is a writer and published author whose work can be seen at letterstogodtwo.com.]
Seven is the number of perfection and the length of days it took my Cuencano driver, Jon LaBoeuf, to take me from Cuenca to the region of Valparaiso, Chile.
It was also seven days before I was to depart that Jon responded to my request to drive me and my three dogs to Chile and then sell my SUV back in Ecuador.
In four hours we were crossing the border of Peru. It took three and half days to drive through Peru, giving me an appreciation for the size of this country.
The northern half of Peru is fairly poor, its western coast an enormous desert, with water on one side and mountains on the other.
It was gratifying to me to see what a clean, modern, and bustling city Lima had become. I was
first there in 1990 to adopt my son and returned with him 13 years later. It is astounding how much a city can change in a generation if the people have the will and faith to turn it around.
The many stops by the Peruvian police slowed us down quite a bit, but never once did I feel threatened or that anyone was going to rob me (you’ll have to ask Jon, though; he might have a different story).
The people of Peru were extraordinarily friendly and welcomed my two Bichon Frise dogs like they were visiting royalty.
The designers of the PanAmerican were genius in creating a spectacularly smooth, safe, and breathtaking drive through the vast expanse of western South America.
We crossed the Chilean border in the town of Arica. As Peru was a contrast to Ecuador, Chile was also distinct. After the difficult experience I had last summer bringing my two dogs into Ecuador, I was understandably concerned that I would encounter the same in Chile.
But I was mistaken. I didn’t have the correct documents for my dogs, so the Chilean customs officials called a veterinarian, who came with his wife at 10 p.m., examined them, and issued the necessary paperwork.
The entrance into Iquique, Chile, was nothing less than awe-inspiring, as Jon’s truck wound its way down a steep desert mountain, like a roller-coaster ride, to the sparkling city on the ocean.
The northern part of Chile appears to have been formed by an earthquake years ago: smooth enormous boulders that look like dinosaur bones cover the coast for miles.
South of that, the land was covered in lavender and purple flowers. Then the mountains were a rainbow of gold, green, and rose. Farther south, the hills were covered with cactus.
As we neared Valparaiso, vineyards became a common site, along with farm animals grazing freely behind fences.
The weather throughout the trip was perfect: mostly sunny, warm, and dry.
Throughout our journey, we were constantly amazed at the magnificent earth God has given us.
As far as Chile goes, I am glad I came here. It feels like home.