We finally caught up to our friends Rachel and Paul whom we met a month ago. They have been having a great trip on a bike just like Tracy’s (BMW F800GS) with a sidecar for Rachel. We had a nice chat and dinner with them and Martin, swapping stories and experiences from the road.
After a great breakfast with Paul, Rachel, and Martin from Germany we packed up to hit the road.
It appeared to be a bit of a BMW motorcycle convention a the place we were staying. It was a beautiful spot over looking Lake Yahuarcocha. We’re happy to spending a few nights at the same hotel as Paul and Rachel and getting to know them better and sharing stories from the road. Their sidecar set up is really cool. And so is their blog.
You can read about their trip at: http://www.sidecartravels.co.uk/
Typical Ecuador….Volcanoes all over the place. But the views were short lived as we had overcast and low clouds for most of the day.
Driving through a small town I look over and see someone waving at me enthusiastically and then notice the van has Alaska plates! Haven’t seen that on this trip yet. Turns out the van is from Alaska but Sylvi and Michael are from Germany. They bought the van in Alaska in August and have been on the road headed South ever since. It was certainly a treat to catch up with a couple other travelers.
We crossed the equator today and stopped at a huge sun dial monument. Much to our surprise we ran into quite a few other travelers there as well. Paul and Rachel, Martin, Sylvi, Michael, and another couple from Germany. We had a nice time swapping stories from the road. This sun dial is exactly on the equator and so it is marked as such on the ground that it lines up with the volcanoes of the area and as a result is quite accurate. The locals take great pride in this monument as it is the only one that sits exactly on the equator.
And being at the equator my GPS reads 0 degrees.
One foot in the northern hemisphere and one foot in the southern hemisphere. And yes, that’s a boomerang in my hand. And I did throw it around the sun dial and consequently over two hemispheres.
And, yes, of course I caught it!!
A view from a run in Salcedo.
As we dropped down out of the Andes and into the Amazon basin, the weather got considerably warmer and the scenery began to change and become much greener and jungle like.
The locals are not only growing and harvesting from their gardens, but they are also pulling wood out of the Amazon.
We saw stacks of wood along the roadway all day long.
Ever since we’ve arrived in Ecuador it’s been much more noticeable that agriculture is a big industry here. In a smaller way than the larger banana and papaya plantations in Colombia.
It’s amazing to see how high and steep they raise crops here. Even the big greenhouses are up on the hillsides.
Being in the Amazon you get every shade of green and it is extremely dense.
As we headed deeper into the jungle we began crossing bridges.
At one spot, the road just ended and we figured out there was a walking bridge, so we crossed the river on that. It wasn’t until we were halfway across that we realized there was a road and rickety bridge just below the pedestrian bridge. We crossed two of these as we worked our way south.
When we got to the third crossing, there was no bridge of any sort across the biggest river. Google maps was wrong this time. I asked the only guy around for directions and he pointed us up another road and told us it was 60km back tracking. We stopped in the middle of a narrow gravel path. As we were discussing if we were up for exploring a degrading gravel road into the unknown of the Amazon, a bus came down the road. We were dumbfounded that a bus would even fit on this narrow road. I asked for directions and was told it was good pavement for the full distance, just around the corner. And sure enough the road turned to pavement. We had to squeeze between the bus and the deep vegetation, but we did and headed back down the road.
We arrived into the town of Macas. With Christmas just around the corner, decorations and lights are in full swing. Nothing compared to the excesses in the US though. And neither one of us miss that
When we left Macas, the front desk gals were excited and at the door to see us off. We learned that they are both from Cuba and we had a nice chat about their homeland, since we were just there. Now we have two new friends in Macas, Esther and Arianne.
About an hour outside of town my front tire went flat. Fortunately it happen right by a gas station on the edge of a town. So we were able to get out of the rain to plug the tire. We noticed several holes in the tire that looked to be wearing irregularly We figured out that the tire was slowly but assuredly delaminating, which could be quite dangerous. We looked around several shops in the small town we were in, but no tires to fit my bike. So we decided to alter course for the day and ride three hours into the third largest city in Ecuador, Cuenca, and see if we could find a new tire.
The ride out of the Amazon looked a lot like this. We were in clouds fog and pouring rain. The glimpses we did see were stunning. Big mountains covered in dense jungle foliage.
As we progressed the terrain started to change as we climbed high into the mountains. We passed through endless villages and farm country. It seemed very European quite beautiful, despite the overcast weather
After a bit of bouncing around town asking for directions we ended up at the Yamaha shop, and they didn’t have a tire either. But the store manager jumped on his scooter and led us to a Continental tire shop, where I was able to get a new tire. Then he took us to a hotel as it was getting to be late in the day. We are most impressed with this town and the people we’ve met here. Everyone has been extremely helpful and friendly.
Even Cuenca has their Christmas decor out over the river Tomebamba.
We spend a bit of time everyday packing and unpacking the bikes. After so much time on the road we both have our routines down. And with limited space on the bikes there’s a pretty good system of how things get packed in. There’s not much room left when all is said and done.
I woke up to a nearly flat tire, so back to the shop and the boys fixed it right up and got us on the road. The best tire shop I’ve ever been to!!
Our day was filled with overcast skies, sometimes heavy rain, and heavenly roads for a motorbike.
Ecuador offers us stunning views everyday. As we work our way south and back into the mountains and away from the Amazon, the terrain is ever changing.
We finished our day in a small town with lots of character, Catacocha. A quick resupply run to the local grocery store found us extremely tempted to stock up on the largest bag of animal crackers we’ve ever seen!! If only we had more room.
Catacocha town square ready for Christmas, with fog rolling in.
We had a nice drive out of Ecuador and got to the border early on a Saturday. It wasn’t terribly busy, but busy enough with families crossing between the countries for the weekend. We ended up spending five hours in the blazing sun waiting in line to get ourselves and the bikes checked out of Ecuador and checked into Peru. It was actually quite easy and everyone very friendly, but the wait was the challenging part. So far the border crossings in South America are very easy and civilized compared to Central America.