Sunday, 8 April 2012

Enter Ecuador

My last day in Peru and managed to get pulled up at police check and officer was straight into a bribe, he said i didn't have my lights on which is impossible on the DR unless the bulb is blown, 100 soles or ticket he said. After showing him my light he persisted, I insisted on a ticket. He soon gave up. Bit lucky as was speeding a bit and I didn't even have to produce my false insurance.

Rice fields in northern Peru

Rice harvester

Loading by hand
These boys are strong, that sack is bloody heavy.

I had no queue at the border but still managed to spend about 3 hours there! Firstly the Peruvian immigration man was at lunch, then the customs guy's computer didn't want to work. Eventually rode over the bridge and into Ecuador. Ecuador immigration no problem, only had difficultly trying to explain my occupation which they all seem to want. Customs guy then went to unlock the gate, seemed to take him an age just to retrieve the key and then the bloody thing wouldn't work. Judging by the grass on the bridge and the seized up lock not many people on this border route. I later asked how many people a day on this crossing, he said 5.

He tried to break the chain but seemed to be hopeless, eventually another guy who was also waiting to go through broke it for him. So with the bike now parked up outside the custom office the officer preceded to produce my temp vehicle import. Once again it seemed to take an age just to print off an A4 page of paper with the bike info, eventually I was away. I was in a cruisy mood today just plodding along not feeling the best so wasn' too pissed at the length of time this had taken just sitting around, I knew Zumba was not far up the road and would easily make it by nightfall.

5 min up the road and I was really pissed though, swearing in my helmet out load at the useless official, it had just started to dump down heavy, the dirt road was turning slick, if the guy could do his job properly I would have made Zumba before the down pour nice and dry.

Challenging conditions on the road to the boader

Hoping to make some good ground today, riding started out on nice dirt road and then I guess it had to happen at some point ,just a matter of time before I come across a washed out piece of road with all the rain. Delayed about 2 hours. Could have possibly got through, just a couple of soft sections of mud, slop that would have had the bike up to the engine cases probably. Chain and sprockets on the way out didn't want to grind then up any faster in the grit and then the digger turned up so waited it out.

Held up by a slip

Blood sugar testing friendly dump truck drivers

More small towns and no signage, had to rely on some directions from locals several times and one guy sent me down the wrong road. Eventually made Saraguro on a fairly new concrete highway which seemed to be breaking up faster than it was being built. The next day was just a short ride up to the pretty city of Cuenca where I spent the afternoon checking out the town and managed to get some insurance for the bike, just $5.80 us for 2 months.

Roadside snack Ecuador backroad

From the city of Cuenca I planned to head north up the spine of the Andes, check out volcan Chimborazo, Ecuador's highest point at 6310 meters and then head for the coast and see some beaches. Early on in the day I thought this was a mistake, I was riding in white out conditions, it was terribly slow going, uncomfortable cold in the mist and what the countryside was like was anybodies guess. My eyes were straining to make out the road in front, it's not a nice feeling motoring along without the usual sense of space, this was no fun at all. It seemed to go on for ages as I traversed the mountain side deep in the middle of a cloud that just wouldn't end.

Thankfully It cleared and I got some views of the patchwork cultivated hills up high and luckily Chimborazo itself come into view piecing up above the cloud. I then descended down towards the flat lands and across to the coast. The decent was once again in the cloud and it just went down and down until I was in the tropics and surrounded in Banana's! It was now uncomfortably too hot and humid, and after a night well off the gringo trail near the flooded town of Babahoyo I just kept riding until I reached the coast and found a backpackers in the small town of Aympe.

Highlands Ecuador

 Mt Chimborazo, 6300m

Market in Babahoyo
Protesters and road block of burning tyres, not sure what it was all about, didn't hang round to find out.
In the middle of a massive Dole Banana plantation


Pacific coast near Peurto Lopez

Riding back across the flat lands, the heat and lack of signage was annoying me, I'd just ridden around in circles in the city traffic of Porteviejo, qued up for an hour just to get some cash from an atm and was heading down a road unsure if I was on the right track thanks again to more lack of road signs. Have I mentioned that theirs bugger all roadside signs around here!! Now I was loosing time and my plan of reaching the foothills and escaping the heat was looking doubtful. I parked up on the roadside ( in an area clear of any grass and Boa's, I'd just seen a few as road kill!) for a snack and a friendly local pulls up along side and offers me some accommodation at his place just up the road a while. It doesn't take me long to say yeah, that would be great thanks.

Barac, originally from Ecuador worked in the US for a few years and along with his wife Laurie from the US and there children Caleb and Becky returned to Ecuador, brought some land where they grow all sorts of fruits and veges and live sustainably from there 20 hectare farm. Barac and Caleb repair motorcycles from his garage at his home. They welcomed me into there home, fed me delicious food, helped me with directions up the road wished me well for the rest of my journey. Lots of thanks to Barac, Laurie, Caleb, and Becky. It was a real pleasure to meet you guys.

Caleb, Joe, Lauire, Becky and Barac

Soya beans growing at Barac and Laurie's property

It was then up the road to the Eco hostel of Secret Garden in the peaceful countryside surrounding volcan Cotopaxi. Here I planned a days break before the unpleasant task of doing battle with another big city, Quito where I need to buy new chain and sprockets for the DR.

Eco Hostal Secret Garden in Cotopaxi

Stone road to Cotopaxi
Quito City looking from Secret Garden Hostal, Quito

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