We rose kind of early – hit the fuel station to gas up and got on the road to the border. Popayun was at about 9,000 foot elevation and we were both huffing and puffing while walking up and down the stairs in the hotel. Leaving Popayun the road began a climb even higher into the mountains. On our way out of Popayun we spotted these guys hitching a ride up a hill by grabbing a truck… the truck driver didn’t appear to have any idea these guys were back there.
The bikes have done surprisingly well with the altitude – other than when they are first started in the morning. When we first start them they sputter and die easily – sometimes at inconvenient times but after they are warmed up they run fine but at the higher altitudes they have a distinct lack of power.
We weaved our way to the border of Ecuador and arrived there fairly early – like 10:30ish. Exiting Columbia was a piece of cake and somewhat obvious. Hit the customs shack (DIAN), he looked at the bikes for about 2 seconds and took the paperwork – then off to the immigration building – stamp the passport and we’re off to nomans land between Columbia and Ecuador.
Entering Ecuador was more of a puzzle – stand in line in the immigration office only to find out that I was in the wrong line – so go stand in another line for a bit and that guy told me I needed a form from another guy…get that form, fill it out and back in line – stamp the passport and done. Then need to figure out the bikes – found a building that had a sign on it for temporary vehicle permits – talk to that guy and he sends me to some other guy – once we got to the right guy he pumped the paperwork out quickly and with just a couple questions – total cost: $0 – amazing.
While watching the bikes and waiting for Dan to get stamped, This guy comes up and we start kinda start chatting about our trip, me in my worst spanish and him in his worst english. As he gets ready to leave he sticks out his hand and says “I’m so glad you come to seen my country” we liked Ecuador already!
We rode another couple hundred kilometers into Ecuador – through some fantastic scenery – steep and deep canyons with lush green foliage and rivers running in the bottoms of the canyons. Three things were readily apparent in Ecuador: the roads were AWESOME, there was actual road signs, and the drivers were somewhat well behaved. Compared to Columbia anyway – the drivers actually seemed like they believed there were rules/laws that needed to be followed as opposed to abused for their benefit. The road surfaces were smooth, painted lines, and very wide. The signs were amazing – almost as good as in the states and we managed to navigate our way without getting lost in every little town that we went through. Also we both agreed that the “edge” we felt in Columbia was gone and we cruised carefree in the wind again….
Got to the hotel around 3ish – we were again at 9,000 feet elevation and both of us were pretty shagged out from the altitude. Headaches and a bit of queasy stomach feeling so we took a nap, then caught up on some email stuffs and then tried to get some food… which turned out to be a challenge… the hotel we were staying at had a restaurant that closed at 7 – and we missed that… so we took a cab downtown and found a forgettable chicken type of place … but most things were closed for some reason – maybe Sunday night or something?
Heading to the coast in the morning –