January 12, 2013 by cleanwatt
The time off in Quito was much deserved and appreciated. Not much of a cultural delve it must be said, for Quito seemed awfully familiar for where I was, possibly to do with American influence and heavy North American tourism? Besides the obvious physical location and layout (9,000+ft and in an Andean valley), it felt comfortable. Also, maybe because they recognize and tolerate my wretched gringo accent, I was able to communicate with more locals it seemed. Not that I’m complaining about either point, but there is something about being totally lost wherever I am, most always.
Anyways, I used one of the days off to trek up a nearby volcano. I enlisted Bryce (Oregon) to join me, and we simply took a taxi to the base of a gondola lift that would take us to the base of the trail. We were both terribly unprepared for a hike of this magnitude, but I didn’t think too much about it.
Post burger, and back at the hostel I began planning where to go after Quito. I figured given my proximity to Ecuador’s Amazonia, and the fact that I probably wouldn’t be this close again, I headed East from Quito the next day trying to catch a glimpse or scent of the Amazon.
Preconceived notions prevailed and I found what I expected. Loads of green and rain, biblical rain. The following are a few pictures I was able to snag en-route.
I eventually made it to Vilcabamba with squishy feet three days later and tried to dry off (not dry out, for what better to do than sit back with a few beers and watch your socks dry?) in preparation for crossing into Peru the next day.
I had quickly looked at a map of Ecuador/Peru and saw there was three possible borders to enter at. The Western most two were situated at major thoroughfares and would be crowded and boring, but that last one to East looked fun. That’s the idea I ran with, fun. Preliminary research prepared me for some rough gravel, nothing I hadn’t tackled before with gusto. So, leaving Vilcabamba heading due South I found the road to be paved for a few miles, and I naively let myself set the bike into 4th gear and began carving my way to the border. The rudest of awakenings greeted me around a large turn, where everything seemed to change simultaneously It got colder, fog was rolling in, construction began, the pavement ended, and of course…it started raining. Could’ve turned around, but am way to stubborn retrace my tracks for that, dammit.
I kept her upright and headed in the right direction most of the time and was making horrible time. I round another corner, back wheel whirring to grab, and see a line of vehicles stopped. As custom everywhere South of the US border, being on a motorbike, I cruised past all the traffic to the front of the line to be greeted by a few guys in high-vis vests prompting me to stop. Through a simple gesture of pointing to the next bend of the road, they easily made me aware that a massive landslide had occurred, completely taking the road below with it.
The operator was handy with that dozer, and I was granted the privilege of crossing the brand new road first! The rest was loads of wheelspin and tracking machinery paths again.
Because fuel in Ecuador is so cheap (~$1.50 p/g) compared to Peru (~$6.00 p/g), they have military stationed at the fuel stops near the border to record who fills up when, to make sure no one is trying to smuggle it across.
These guys luckily unlocked the regular gas for me to fill up before crossing into Peru. Happy lot!
I’ll save Peru for the next post. As always, thanks for tuning in!
“All travel has its advantages. If the passenger visits better countries, he may learn to improve his own. And if fortune carries him to worse, he may learn to enjoy it.” – Samuel Johnson
Mileage: Will update for Peru