Recently in Ecuador Category

IMG_0923We 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.

P1000735We 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.

 

 

 

 

Welcome-2-ecuadorEntering 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!

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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….

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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 –

Cheers.

 

IMG_0953We got up early from room 123 (which strangely enough was on the second floor?) and hit the road. We were eager to hit the equator… as we left town we kept checking our GPS’s and watching the numbers count down. We saw at the hotel that there was this big tourist deal with a HUGE sundial right on the equator. As we rounded turns the GPS went up then down teasing us as we were getting closer and then further away from the equator. We had constant chatter on the intercom. We must be close. Then the curve would take us away… Where the hell is this tourist spot. Well, we finally passed 00.00000 and no tourist spot… So we decided to turn around and go back to make sure we got a photo of the GPS reading 0.  We must of looked kinda funny inching along the road looking at the GPS 00.00040 then 00.0003 and bingo! We are sitting on the Equator!!! No sign, No tourist deal, nothing… After we took the pictures we headed out thinking for sure the tourist deal is going to be right around the corner… Well we never found it and just kept cruising towards Quito. IMG_0955

We stopped at a gas station as we were talking about the fact that our map was kinda vague and we knew there had to be a bypass around quito. Quito is a city of about 2 million plus… Well the station attendant did not have a map and said we could get one in Quito! We laughed at the irony – in order to avoid the clogged up streets of Quito by using a bypass we needed to go into Quito to buy a map – so we decided to wing it. As we approach Quito the bypass was well marked and we cruised around the outside. Quito sits in a bowl surrounded by a ring of mountains – we rode along a ridge to the east and south of Quito and looked down on the city. It is clouded by pollution and seems to go on forever – big buildings in the center and lots and lots of small houses and buildings. The altitude was changing between 9500 and 10,000 feet as we rode along the ridge.

P1000764We then desended down this amazing moutain road on the way to the ocean. We stopped to  check out this super cool waterfall. You can get an idea of the scale of it by looking at the truck in the picture to the left. The foliage was getting really rainforest like as we headed towards the coast. There was two ways to get to Manta, one was the main highway we were on, the other looked like a main road that went pasts some big lakes on the map. We decided the lakes would be cool to see so we took a left and headed down the other road. We could see the lakes on the GPS but we could not see the lakes when we looked for them. Nothing. Nada. Shortly there after the road deterated to asphalt with broken chunks missing. No worries, we pressed on. Shortly there after the road deterated to gaint pot holes and gravel sections. We began chatting about the time and how long it would take us to get to Manta. Would we make it by dark. Then the road deteriated to all gravel with section of mud. We thought, “we got this, at least its not raining” Shortly there after the rain came. And it rained… big time… tropical downpour. This made the road about the consistacy on baby shit after banana pudding. We were plowing our front end through the mud, however we could not slow too much as we were worried about being on the road after dark…

IMG_0971Well the road did improve after about 45 miles of baby crap and again we were carellessy cruising down the pavement at 70. We arrived in Manta shot to hell and muddy from the knees down. We gave up trying to find the hostel and checked into the first place that had a room. We found some beers and called it a night.

Tomorrow we head down the coast and find a place to chill for at least a day to catch up on some laundry and bike service.

Cheers

P1000775We stayed at an expensive hotel (relatively anyway –  it was $73 a night) and decided we should sleep in and work on a place to stay for a couple nights. We finally dragged our butts out of bed about 10 – searched out some breakfast and some internet.

By 12 we had eaten and found a place to head to – Puerto Lopez and a little hostel that promised “guaranteed hot water” and “wifi service” – only about 120 kilometers away. Excellent!

 

 

 

IMG_0980So we suited up, packed all the stuff and got on the road about 1pm. We rode on a brand new road with no lane markings and spanking smooth asphalt surface for about the first 30 miles and then the road sort of dropped off to a nice road but with rough patches. And of course it wouldn’t be Latin America if there wasn’t some construction underway.

The scenery along the “Ruta del Sol” was nice – we saw beaches that stretched on for miles and not too much for towns along the way. As we pulled into Puerto Lopez we went from the nice asphalt road to the dirt streets of town –

 

 

IMG_0990We rode around the dirt streets looking for the hostel and after a couple loops around town we found the place. The lady who ran it – Gladis was super nice – not a word of Enlgish but she worked the 3rd grade Spanish for us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_0991Dan pulled out the silver Sharpie pen so that Gladis could sign the bike – and it didn’t work too well so he began shaking it to get the ink down to the tip – well, this turned out to be a bad idea and the ink was flying out all over the bike, the seat, Dan’s helmet and riding jacket. Of course, John found this to be funny but Dan just looked at the ink sprayed all over and was thinking about how much work it was going to be to clean it off …

We got checked in and quickly found out the internet didn’t work because the computers, telephone, stereo etc… had been blasted in a power surge… great.

 

 

It was a humid evening and we searched out some food and a little booze. When we got back to the room we setup the mosquito netting and got into bed – well, we quickly diiscovered the fan didn’t have an “oscilating” mode – so it only pointed in one direction. That setup a little negotiation about who was going to get up and point the fan in what direction… we did a “virtual” rock/paper/sissors and Dan won – he elected to have the fan pointed at him this evening and let John have it the next night – but that meant he had to get up and move the fan.

Tomorrow, we have some bike maintenance to do, laundry, and catching up on the blogs, and other computer stuffs…

Cheers!

 

Not a lot to report today – we spent the day on bike maintenance, laundry, internet stuffs, and telephone calls.

We needed to clean and lube the chains which John did without incident. He also fixed Dan’s turns signal from the little mishap in the parking lot a few days ago and there were a handful of other little things to tweak and make sure were tight.

We’ve also been carrying our broken shift levers since they failed about 3 weeks ago – seems like ages. Well, we figured they could be welded if we could find a good welder and we would have some spares again. The owner of the hostel said there was a welder dude about 5 blocks away – (“soldura” in spanish) – we wandered around the town talking to auto parts stores and bike repair places looking for some parts we could bolt to the shift levers to make things work but no luck. Eventually we ended up at the welding place… Unfortunately we forgot the camera – but hopefully you can use your imagination here – the shop was just a roof over a fairly large space with maybe 7 or 8 tools – a couple of welding machines that were wired to the wall using what looked like left over wire. The welder guy was excited to fix our levers – and “no problem” he could fix them… Dan was a bit skeptical after looking at the equipment but we went ahead. The first one worked out pretty well as we guided him to just “tack” them in 4 places and he didn’t really pay attention but the weld looked like it would work. The second one didn’t go so well – he tried to get it done too quickly and the result was that he completely melted the aluminum part of the linkage… he felt bad but we laughed because its happened to us before – paid him his fee, a dollar! and we went home with one “working” spare shift lever.

The laundry went smoothly – we turned our clothes in to a laundry service and we washed our riding gear ourselves. Putting it out in the equatorial sun to dry which took about 20 minutes.

Spent several hours fighting with the Internet trying to get the blogs updated, emails and all that – had a nice dinner and a couple beers…. off to bed, we ride in the morning – I think we’ll go south this time.

Cheers.

 

Last night the room was like an oven set on preheat with a panful of swampy water in it. Dan had the fan the night before and it really wasn’t that hot.. I got the best of that deal’  So after a long hot, sweaty night we got up early intending to get on the bikes early. It took some time to really get moving though… we had another nice breakfast with our host Gladis at the www.hostalvillacolombia.com  Gladis and her son Oscar were great hosts and if your ever in the area its a great place to stay! They were super friendly and we had a nice stay.

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We also had made friends with a couple of kids that hung around the hostel. We took one of them for a ride last night and of course he told his buddy. He came over this morning asking for his ride, how do you say no? So while Dan took him for a spin I went into town and uploaded the blogs we wrote last night. The kids were really exceited about the motorbikes and we had alot of fun tickling and rough housing with them. The shot of Jorge with the helmet on is funny – cause John was trying to tell him to smile so he took his fingers and pushed his smile up – so Jorge just grabbed his cheeks and pulled them apart!!

After posing for photo’s and saying goodbye we got moving around 11:30 we really had no destination in mind so we headed down the coast. It was a wonderful day with the sun baking down. As long as we kept moving the temp was good. The road followed the coastline about 50 miles before turning inland. The views along the beach were fantastic.

This is the town we stayed in : Peurto Lopez.

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Check out this church that was perched on a clif about 300 feet above the ocean…

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After turning inland the road was a 4 lane highway and we wicked it up to about 80. 3 hours later we found a raggity hotel for 20 bucks a night and we are chilling in the room with the AC cranked but the compressor is howling like a cat in heat which is actually half good news because it drowns out the highway noise from the trucks and busses. Tonight we sleep like eskimos…

Tomorrow we connect up with the PanAm again and we head south…should be in reaching down near the border of Peru and up in the mountains.

Cheers. 

After a NOISY night in this crappy hotel….. The AC was so noisy Dan was considering rebuilding the damn thing before we went to sleep. About 3AM the tv came on by itself. Wide open volume, I mean it was cranked!!! And blazing from the crackling speaker was “American Women, Stay away from me…..” We both sat up in bed and looked at each other like, WTF are you doing?? Then we relized the remote was on a table out of reach of each of both us… So we laughed, shut it off, unplugged it and went back to sleep.

We got up early and got some MOTS (Meat on the Seat). We had two ways to get to the next nights stop. One was the main PanAM highway. The other was a main road about halfway and a side road the other half. The dude at the hotel said the side road was good and should be faster. OK lets do that!

P1000796We ripped down the main road and got to the side road in no time. It started out nice. Winding up into the hills alongside a beautiful stream. The road quickly turned sour though. With massive potholes and some rocks the size of softballs. Throw in some mud, broken pavement, buses and trucks. Lucky for us the road was only 95 miles long!! So 3 hours of singing “American Women” and slipping and sliding in the gravel we arrived back on the main road. “We both commented that was fun. We are truly sick. Most motorcyclists would kringe at the thought of a 600 pound bike on slick mud and loose deep rocky roads. But we really did kinda enjoyed it. The views at the top were fantastic. We also saw a tourist bus half off the road kinda hanging on a cliff with the passengers sitting around on the ground and road – waiting for something different to happen….IMG_1030

After that road we still had about 80 miles to go to get to the hostel. This seemed like riding on a billard table. We were floating on air. Talking about what a “Sweet peice of asphalt”.  After a bunch of trouble trying to find the Hostel we had found a brochure for, we gave up and just decided to stay at one we passed three times looking for the other one. After checking in we found out it was the damned one we were looking for. They had not hung up a sign with the NEW name yet…. We walked into town for a meal and a drink. Talked about a route south into Peru and went to bed.

Tomorrow Peru!

Cheers’ 

IMG_1045We were going to go south into Peru from here however, we found out the road south was in bad shape. They had a big storm a couple weeks ago and now the road is very rough with 3 or 4 water crossings. They estimated 10 hours in a bus to get back to good road. We had no idea how deep the water crossing were and the communication problems weren’t making the road sound any better.

So we backtracked 50 miles to Loja and headed south on a main road to Peru. This road turned out to be a good ride along a high ridge with huge vistas on both sides. Nice pavement for the most part and we cruised along at a nice pace. After yesterdays tough road we were enjoying the smooth pavement with some small gravel sections that kept us on our toes.  

 

P1000812We also banked a little flat tire karma. We ran across this guy and his family pushing his bike. We stopped to find out he had a flat rear tire. We got out our little electric pump and pumped it up. Only to find out he had a leak in the tube. We couldn’t really fix it without pulling the tire and all that. So we got him rolling and then stopped again a few miles down the road to pump it up again. That was enough for him and his family to get into to town to have it fixed. We hardly exchanged a word, But the brotherhood of motor-cyclists was all that needed to be said. A biker in need, you stop.

 

IMG_1061We arrived at the border with Peru in a few hours. That is after we circled the town looking for it. It was kinda funny that the locals in town would just point… Like they see dumb gringos on bikes all the time looking for the border. We found a road that lead out of town. Dirt and gravel, “this can’t be it” “We came in on a nice two lane paved road.” Well it was and shortly after leaving town it turned back into a nice road and we rolled up to customs. We processed out of Ecuador in about 30 minutes total. No worries.

Crossed no mans land and processed into Peru in about 45 minutes. The dude was a bit confused with the fact that we are brothers and Dans middle name is John…. But with the forms filled and the stickers placed on our bikes. The Motobrothers were in Peru! 

Total cost to exit Ecuador and enter Peru – $0.

After about 20 miles we were stopped by the Policia, thats pretty standard as they want to check to see that you somehow did not sneak in without all the right paperwork. Our papers were in order however and the dude let us pass. Not before telling us not to stop for anyone but the Policia…. What? I thought this was Peru? We rolled on but our shields were up and we talked about evasive maneuvers and such.. The biggest observation for the first 100 kilometers where that we probably saw more animals on the road in that 100 kilometers than all of 8,500 miles so far – goats, cattle, turkeys, chickens, dogs, birds, vultures, etc… amazing.

When we stopped for gas we realized we made a rookie mistake. We didn't know the exchange rate for Dollars to Soles and we forgot to exchange any dough at the border….DOH! The gas guy was happy to take US though and in the end he didn't clip us too bad.

We rolled down to the flat land and the city of Piura. We found a Hotel right on main street without any trouble and headed out for a beer and burger.

Tomorrow we ride south into the desert.

Cheers’

Bonus blog - Ecuador

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P1000797We had been cruising through Ecuador and continuously seeing restaurants with entire pig carcasses hanging in the eating area. I kept thinking I should take some pictures of these things because it is so wierd.

 

 

 

 

P1000798The patrons literally are sitting in the restaurant with the pig hanging from the rafters on a hook. They point to the part of the pig they want to eat and the cook cuts it off and tosses it on the grill for them.

 

In a previous blog, we told you about a guy and his family that we stopped to help in Ecuador. They were pushing a motorcycle with a flat rear tire and we stopped to help – only to find that it was not easilly repaired without a new inner tube. We inflated his tire and sent them packing. Then tracked them down and inflated it again so they could make it to the tire repair place.

Well, he sent us an email! and how cool is that cause the guy doesn’t speak english – somehow he figured out how to get some translation going on and here is what he sent us:

Hello, my friends ..... I remember the guy I was under the rim of the air a few meters to reach Catamayo (Loja - Ecuador), I did not know at this time to thank you because I do not speak English but through this half wholeheartedly thank them because without their help I would have to walk quite touched.
With me a gift card that you can visit your page and saw the photo taken that day, which makes me feel proud to have known ...
Dismissal without more words I wish him every success in his long journey and luck where you go ....

Goodbye friends

His name is: santiago gualpa cumbicus – and we are very impressed that he took the effort to send us an email in english – very cool.

Cheers!