Ecuador was a surprise. I thought I would see bananas, sea and mosquito's but instead I got mountains, rain (for the first time in 10,000 km) cold and dairy farms complete with pivot irrigators. What I didn't get was trash and bad driving - Ecuador in short was a thorough delight. I stopped at Cuenca, wet and frozen to death and pulled into the first hotel with a car park. It had been a long day and I wasn't fussy. Shit did it cost a bunch so I made sure I used all the hot water as I soaked in the tub and I even used the flash dressing gown provided. The bed in the room was so large that if I got tangled up in the bed clothes it would have taken me a day to find my way out. Had a most delightful meal of specialty soup and goat meat stew washed down with an excellent beer. That will be $109 US dollars thank you sir. Next day was another marathon day of 450 km, all in the mountains and all in the rain. It's surprisingly hard work on an under-powered bike. I arrived in Quito to find Colin in situ and Robin and Diane in the Galapagos. Their trip cost approx $1700 US`each in the end and at that price I would have gone so I am annoyed that events conspired against me. The other thing we all stuffed up on was not stopping at the equator - oops and I was leading. The few days spend in Quito was in a dump of a hostel but at least it was cheap and there were people about. Mostly it has been a
pretty lonely affair to date. Hostels unfortunately are full of young backpackers and we have little in common with them so it would be really nice to meet some other bikers. The ride to Colombia was nothing special, just more mountains and slow trucks. Our last night in Ecuador was in Tolcan where I tried out the local shoe shine man for the cleanest pair of boots it is possible to have and as a special treat - an ice cream sunday which they put bloody grated cheese on.
Getting into Colombia was easy for the others but I was missing an entry stamp for Ecuador so the guy would not stamp my exit and without it I could not enter Colombia. So I went over to Colombian immigration, offered to fall on my sword, and they let me in - whew. So I have never officially been to Ecuador so you have to ignore everything I have said about the place.
Sadly Colombia was going to be short lived. The ferries that operate for Cartagena in the north are no longer running so our only option is to fly our bikes to Panama from Bogota. So Bogota here we come. The last part of the ride Cali to Bogota was epic. The road went through the mountains and despite it being a Sunday there were trucks everywhere. I take my hat off to the drivers as they crawled their way up some pretty steep roads and sharp corners. Miss a gear and they simply stopped, some broke down completely and blocked the road.and one had tipped over into a ditch. When we got there the trailer had been righted but its load was still in the ditch. There were lots of delays but we made the 450km in good time. We found a reasonably good hostel in the "old town" of Bogota. Monday was a stat holiday so we just hung around the area - found a Juan Valdez cafe. Juan Valdez is the national trademark of Colombian coffee. The old town is a dump - broken pavement, graffiti, dog shit, tramps and other low life every where. We filled in the time by going out to the "salt Cathedral" which is a religious attraction buried deep inside a salt mine. Stupidly I did not take my camera because it was an excellent tour. We also went to the Gold Museum which displayed ancient
gold artifacts recovered from archaeological digs. It too was excellent.
We made contact with a freight forwarder on the Tuesday and booked for the next day and in the afternoon I took my bike to a Suzuki dealer to have the chain and sprockets replaced along with the front tyre. This was my third front tyre (I'm still on my second rear). The chain kit and tyre was approx $500 kiwi - last time it was that price just for the tyre. It was a huge dealership with 18 work stations and all but two had bikes in them. The Police use Suzuki's here so the place was full of police as well. The big shock was the freight bill for the bike - $1,500 US ouch. Next day we duly dropped off our bikes to the airport, waited hours for customs clearance and police checks and went back to our digs. Our bikes and us were about to leave South America. I had ridden 24,300 km in South America and will be glad to leave. It is 12,500 km to Fairbanks, Alaska.
|Trash in Peru|
|Paradise me thinks|
|Street art Huachaco|
|From my room in Huachaco|
|These are moto taxis and they are everywhere in Peru|
|Still in the desert|
|Rubbish - that's right it must be Peru|
|More desert - now encroaching onto the road|
|Colon - last night in Peru.|
|Back into the Andes in Ecuador|
|Dairy cattle - in Ecuador?|
|Yep, this guy has strapped his kid to himself for the ride home|
|Another traffic jam|
|Only in Colombia? Well no this is pretty typical everywhere even for buses|
|Lots of these quaint old trucks.|
|The Colombians are bridging the Andes it seems|