There will be mud

Trip Start Aug 04, 2008
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Ecuador  ,
Thursday, November 20, 2008

We pulled out of Banos on the 18th, heading down 45 all the way to Loja, then south to Banos, and we were looking forward to the ride.  Dan and Shannon from Asheville had done it several days earlier and said it was a great ride, some pavement and some dirt, and nice countryside.  Also we had heard terrible things about the border crossing into Peru on the Panamericana on the coast, and had heard great things about Macara, from Dan and others.  The road was a promised, some brand new pavement, but probably 2/3 dirt.  And looking at the map now, we covered about 450 miles in 3 days, and about 300 was dirt.  Thatīs a lot, man.  But the worst, or the most exciting, was the construction zones. 

The thing about brand new pavement is, that chances are soon youīll come upon the people who are laying it.  And to create a new road, you have to destroy the old one.  Dig it up to grade it, take down hillsides to widen it, spread gravel and pour cement and asphalt.  The problem is with the first 2 steps, which meands huge machines displacing huge amounts of dirt, on and around the road.  And when it rains, that dirt turns into mud.  So during these 3 days we saw some great and some piss-poor conditions, but made it through all of them without dropping either bike.  And overall it really was a great ride, just the kind of ride we were looking for - challenging, scenic, and off the beaten path.

The scenery was very  cool, from semi-arid initially to tropical.  From Banos we went over a ridge then most of the ride was down the valley on the far side, which was actually part of the Amazon basin, and the most tropical weīd seen since Central America.  We stayed in Macas, a nondescript town, and Limon, a nodescript village, along the way.

Ecuadorans are not as friendly and outgoing as Colombians.  Clearly.  We were not treated poorly, but rather indifferently, with nobody really expressing an interest in us.  This was nice in some ways, but still hard to fathom, as these folks see very few gringos.  The border town of Macara is for some reason an exception.  While the town ainīt much, the people there were warm and friendly, more so than ny other town in Ecuador.

So overall Ecuador was okay, Otavalo was interesting, but overall no great shakes.  Of course we only saw a tiny slice of it.  But as in Colombia, there was no indigenous culture, and unlike Colombia, people werenīt all that nice.  The high point for me was actually Quito, with is a big surprise as big cities usually donīt register that well.

Peru promises to ver very different.
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