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December 30, 2017

Day 48 [Sat 12/30/2017] - Ibarra, Ecuador to Riobamba, Ecuador

Day 48 [Sat 12/30/2017] - Ibarra, Ecuador to Riobamba, Ecuador

Update: I am alive and well and resting peacefully in the El Turista Hostal in Riobamba, Ecuador.

Starting Odometer: 12,380
Ending Odometer: 12,618
Distance Traveled Today: 238 miles
Distance Traveled This Trip: 8,015 miles [12,618 - 4,603]
Distance Traveled This Trip(in Km): 12,900 km

My ride for Saturday looks something like this.

Forecast for Quito, Ecuador: Rain. Great. Big surprise.

I'm not real clear where we go after Quito. I'm voting for the Atacama desert.

"I like too many things and get all confused and hung-up running from one falling star to another till i drop. This is the night, what it does to you. I had nothing to offer anybody except my own confusion." - Jack Kerouac

OK. So...today, I wake up in the Hospedaje Buenaventura in Ibarra, Ecuador. I set my alarm for 7:00 a.m., because Carlos and Charlie said they'd be here at 8:00 a.m. So I get up, and start packing for another day on the road. At 8:00 a.m., I ask them to let me out of the hospedaje (It's locked from the inside), so I just roll my bike out onto the street at 8:00 a.m., thinking...I guess I just wait for them now. He locks the hotel door behind me.

I think I waited about 1-2 minutes before they rolled up. So now, we're off to the races. The general idea is to ride to Quito, so we take off for Quito. We have picked up another rider now. I believe that we met him last night when we rode into town looking for a hotel. I think that Carlos just asked him for help, and then he led us around town to our hotels, etc.

At some point, we stop to eat at about 10:30 in the morning, somwhere. Carlos says that we won't eat again until dark. I don't normally eat this early, but when you meet nice people in foreign countries that speak the language and help you get through the country, you don't complain about things like this. If it's time for breakfast, then let's have breakfast.

He parks the bikes out by the road, so the other guy who fell behind will see our bikes.

We eat a breakfast, of sorts. Coffee con leche y asucar.

Outside, I ask a vendor selling jackets if he has one that fits me. I buy one of his jackets for $15, as I don't want to freeze to death, but it's fairly cool to cold up here in the Andes. It's peculiar to me, as we're so close to the equator, that I wouldn't expect it to be this cold. But part of this adventure is to be prepared, and since I lost my pants and all of my cold weather gear, I'm trying to re-supply myself, and so you sort of leave no stone unturned. You grab whatever you can as you roll through town, so that in between the towns, you don't die.

Carlos' friend shows up, and sees our bikes, but he keeps riding, as his bike isn't as fast as ours are. So, he goes on ahead of us.

Now, we pull out and head for Quito.

Riding through the Andes mountains is just breathtaking. I get a few shots here and there, and record some with the GoPro Hero 5 also.

Today, it didn't really rain on us at all. It threatened to a lot, and it spit on us some, but nothing like yesterday.

We roll into Quito, and I explain to them that we have to go to the park where you can get your photo taken at the equator. Somehow, neither Charlie nor Carlos have ever heard of this place, which is fascinating considering they live in Colombia. So now, I put the park into Waze, and it's routing us through Quito to the La Mitad del Mundo (Middle of the World park).

So now, they're following me for the first time, instead of me following them. Eventually, we find the park and roll up to it. They charge us about $3.00 USD to get in. We go in and get some photos. Then, I lose them somehow, and go back out to my bike. Eventually, Carlos comes out and then later, Charlie.

That was really the only thing I wanted to do in Quito. Now, for me, the next thing is basically to head for Lima, as I see it.

But my back tire is as smooth as a baby's ass. So I tell Carlos he needs to find me a rear tire (llanta). He starts researching and we go to a couple of stores, finally culminating in the Honda motorcycle shop in Quito, but it's cerrado (closed) when we find it on Saturday afternoon.

Basically, at this point, I just admit defeat and say, "OK. We'll deal with it in Lima." And we ride on.

Now, at this point, the three of us are riding out of Quito, in the afternoon, ostensibly headed towards Manta, on the coast. And, I'm fine with going to the coast, but Manta seems to me to be backtracking a little bit. I need to go south, not north, to get my new tire.

I'm following Carlos and Charlie to Manta, when I drop one of my gloves. In a panic, I park on the edge of the road, and race back into traffic to try to save my glove. I point at it, flamboyantly, so the cars will see it as they race past. One hits it, and then I'm able to retrieve it. So now, I have both of my gloves back, but now, when I turn back on the road, Carlos and Charlie are gone. And the road splits. And I'm not sure where they went.

I try to hail Carlos on WhatsApp, but am unsuccessful. Now, having lost my friends, I have to change my plans. Now, I just decide to bee-line for Lima. Like, sure the coast would be nice, but I've seen a lot of coasts. I'm OK with heading to Lima. They're going to Lima also, and so riding north really seems like a luxury I can ill afford at this point.

I try to find a city that I can hammer into this fucking Waze or the Gamin Montana. And I swear to God I hate Waze. I swear that this thing can sense fear. And, if you're in a panic, the adrenaline causes it to malfunction. It says "Ooops. Something went wrong. Try again." when I try to find about a dozen cities. It makes me want to murder the CEO of Waze.

Finally, I find a town that I can begin some crude navigation towards - Cuenca. I intentionally found a town that seemed hard to spell, and therefore possibly unique/distinct enough that even Waze wouldn't fuck it up.

I set my sights on Cuenca, and start rolling south. I wasn't overly impressed with Quito, in that it sort of seemed like a lot of other South American cities. Crowded. Polluted. Desperate. But outside of Quito, the scenery seems to get better, and as I go south, it seems to get better and better. Now, I'm cruising through the Andes, with snow capped mountains. And it's freezing cold. And I ride until dark. Trying to get some miles in today. This country isn't that big. If I can't get across Ecuador, then what on earth makes me think I can make it across Chile and Argentina? These are the thoughts that haunt me as I'm rolling alone through the Andes.

I try to use my front brakes more, and my back brakes less, and down-shifting less, as I'm trying to make it to Lima on my smooth back tire.

It's really cold, and getting dark. And threatening to rain. And the roads are wet so it must have rained here earlier. And I roll into the outskirts of Riobamba. I pass a few hostels. I'm looking for a half-decent hotel with wifi and hot water showers. I know it sounds like a lot to ask. And now, I'm riding alone. In the dark. In the cold. I miss having my buddies with their fluent Spanish skills.

I turn into a gas station, and ask the gas station attendants where is a hotel. (I had just passed about 4 of them, but they didn't look very promising.)

Basically, they're like, "Dude...you just passed the hotel. Just turn around and go back to it." But this is all in Spanish, of course. So reluctantly, I turn back and go to the last hostel that I passed. It also says Hotel.

I go into the hotel.



"Aguas caliente?"


"Quanto es para la noche?" I ask.

"Diez dollars," she replies.

I'm like..."Done." So I hand her a 50,000 peso note. She looks at it oddly. Now, understand, this is from one country over. About 300 miles away. Not that far. And she acts like she's never even seen the currency. It may as well be from Africa. I was just joking with her, but it's a suprise to me how insulated they are in this valley.

So I check in for the night. Glad to be off the road. And, it sucks to not have my buddies Carlos and Charlie, but I'm in touch with them on WhatsApp, and we might ride together either in Ecuador or Peru.

The roads are very good here. Probably the best I've seen on this trip. Mostly, they are toll roads. And we stop and pay a few quarters or maybe as much as $1 USD every so often. Money well spent, IMHO.

This is what my ride tomorrow might look like.

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 30, 2017 at 5:30 AM


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