Dangerous open manholes
Trip Start Oct 20, 2009
159Trip End Jun 23, 2010
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Where I stayed
Savoy Inn Hotel
We rode a total of 280 kilometers today, but it seemed like a lot more, maybe because we went through so many towns. Very early on in the day, after we left the Oro Verde Hotel, we had trouble finding the Pan American Highway. There were some road blocks as we left the Hotel, and that's probably where we got lost. As it was we took Highway 35 for most of the day, supposedly an inferior road to the Pan American, but still quite good, save for a few sloshy parts where there were the usual road works. Lynn is always apprehensive when there is mud on the roads, as it can be really slippery, whereas I am more tentative with the gravel roads. Des and Lou don’t seem to worry about any road conditions.
We had to stop and confirm we were headed in the right direction several times, but no one pointed us towards the Pan American
As it was getting late in the afternoon, and with yet another wrong turn, Des and I got separated from Lou and Lynn for a period, as the traffic seemed to gang up on us, and we had a couple of very narrow bridges with steep entries and descents to negotiate. It was peak hour and there were lots of small motorbikes weaving in and out of the heavy traffic. Going slow at this point was rather unnerving as the weather was warm and humid. Some kids were squirting all the motorbikes with water in fun as they passed, no one seemed to mind.
After we crossed the second bridge, we saw Lou and Lynn waiting for us, so they joined in behind us as we passed, as we were unable to stop with traffic left and right of us. Gradually we were through the busy town and on a stretch of open road again.
The sun was fading fast and we were all anxiously keeping our eyes open for a hotel of sorts, preferably not a Love Hotel. In a large, rather dusty, busy town called Ventanas, we were able to park the bikes in the 'foyer’ of the very old Vera Hotel
We ate ‘in the street’ that night as there was a stall about 10 paces from the Hotel, and we were all too tired to go any further. Eating chicken on the street is really asking for trouble, but to our surprise, none of us suffered any ill effects from the meal, which also included lentils, (reminds me of Neil from The Young Ones programme on TV) and rice.
Lynn and I did a little hand washing and hung it from the oscillating ceiling fans in our rooms, where it eventually became dry, despite the humidity.
Des and I knuckled down for the night like spoons in a drawer and tried to disregard the traffic noise outside our broken window, and the whine of the odd mosquito. We were glad when dawn broke
Lou and Des maneuvered all our bikes out of the small foyer with great care and many onlookers. The folks in this town were a bit on the shy side, so we didn’t have as many enquiries as we usually do.
The morning was cool and the day stayed that way, as we were gaining altitude towards Quito. We were still on Highway 35 and enjoying the scenery outside of the towns. The towns were getting bigger and busier closer to the capital city. At a set of traffic light, a chap in a 4 wheel drive asked where we were going. I said "A Quito" (To Quito). He said “You must turn right at these lights”. He saved us another wrong turn, and we confirmed this with a bevy of girls who were driving along side us with their windows down.
As we rode along this road Lynn swerved a little to the right. As I was behind her, I did the same and looked straight down into a manhole in the centre of the road without a cover on it, and no indicators that it was open. I managed to point it out to Des who was behind me
We made pretty good progress up the mountain roads travelling at a height of 3,700 meters at one stage, enjoying the waterfalls and the magnificently cut away roads. We were very aware of the altitude and hoped Quito was not going to be too high. Round and round we went, circling the mountains, up and down, keeping our eyes on the road, but also trying to glimpse the beautiful scenery. We let the busses pass as quickly as we could, and came to a plateau which was the northern part of Quito.
Upon arrival in Quito, Lou was aiming at staying close to the airport, where we would be loading our bikes and flying out ourselves on to Panama City. At a large round-about, none of us had a clue which way the airport was. When I asked a family in a car next to me, I got a complicated story in Spanish, and I just said “No intiende” (I don’t understand). So the lady driver indicated to follow her. Des and I motioned to Lou and Lynn to follow, which they did at a distance, but after a kilometer of two, they took a wrong turn and we lost them again.
Des and I went on to the airport and expected Lou and Lynn to catch up soon
Finally I settled on the Savoy Inn Hotel about five kilometers from the airport and, finally received an answer from Lynn when I rang her again. I gave her the co-ordinates of the Savoy Inn Hotel from the Zumo, plus the address. They followed a car driver, whom they’d asked, and were delighted with my choice of accommodation. It’s a lovely Hotel, not ultra modern, but at least everything is well maintained and works, and the rooms are large and comfortable. The staff are helpful and the cost reasonable at $50US per night. It’s about three stars.