I Adore Ecuador
Entering into Ecuador I saw lots more people from Venezuela at the frontier. It's hard to imagine how bad life must be to risk everything for a chance to start new in another country. Many of the people carrying all of their personal belongings.
For me, entering Ecuador was fairly simple. Go to Aduana (Immigration) get stamped in, then go to Customs for a temporary import of the motorcycle. The import took the longest because the worker had to inspect the vehicle and then wait for the computer to enter the information. All in all the process leaving Colombia and entering in to Ecuador took about 2.5 hours.
I crossed the frontier with my friend Steve and his girlfriend. We tend to meet up around the same time and so it makes crossing a little less overwhelming.
Our first stop was Quito. There I would meet up with my other friend Rob who was renting an airbnb just outside the city. He was kind enough to let me sleep on the couch while he was renting there. That would come in handy because a few days after I arrived, my stomach turned into a hot mess. Somewhere in Colombia, I contracted a stomach parasite. Probably in the desert. If you have never had a stomach parasite before, it basically tries to consume what you eat and gives you bad diarrhea. You piss out your ass until you kill the parasite with medication. You can test to see what parasite you have, and kill it with specific medicine, or you can use a broad spectrum medicine and hope it does the job. Since my VA medical is useless here, I took the latter and after about 8 days I was returning to normal.
My friend Rob had a bad accident just before entering Peru, and the guys at Freedom Bike rental hooked him up with their mechanic and a place to store the bike until it was ready to ride. Rob had to fly back to the USA because it was cheaper to do that than source parts in Ecuador. Ecuador has horrible import tariffs. Things can cost 30% more here than in other countries. It doesn’t make the country super expensive to visit, but goods can cost more. Food and tourism is still pretty cheap and gas is just over $1.00
A cool thing with Freedom Bike Rentals is that they equipped their bike with Mosko Moto gear!
When you want to be the best, you should use only the best!
I talked with the company owner and manager and it didn’t take long before I was offered a job to be a tour guide. Of course I was flattered, and if I wasn’t trying to make my way to Patagonia, I would have jumped at the chance. Well, I never say never, and who knows what happens in the future.
So spending time in Quito was interesting to say the least. A trip up to the Equator is only about an hour away.
Quito isn’t exactly a tourist city, but it’s good to hangout for a few days and see things.
What’s nice about the city is that the weather is the same pretty much the same all year round. The city is at a high elevation (2800 meters) so for white boys like me you have to use sunblock or get burned. It also makes things interesting for sports. The air is a bit thinner, so it can be hard to breath sometimes when you are active.
Seeing the sights in Quito came with a twist one day. While walking the streets, I came upon a manifestation that began to turn into a small riot.
Students from a local school where protesting the firing of a teacher, and so they took to the streets. Most were very young, but the teenage students turned to rocks and violence. Police showed very good restaurant in not escalating the situation to more violence. They used tear gas which quickly ended most of the protest.
Seeing some of the sites included the Historic part of the town and a giant cathedral. For $1 you could climb up to the tower and see the city. The climb was 6 stories from the ground and then climbing steep and slippery ladders to reach the top. It definitely was a pucker moment.
Crossing the shaky cat walk to reach the tower
For the next few days I explored the city and even helped Freedom Rental with some promotional videos
This church has over 4 tons of gold in decoration, yet there are people still begging in the streets.
My friend Rob was going back to the states for a family reunion and I thought it was good time to shed some pounds. I’ve slowly been collecting things or carrying things that I just have not and hope not to need. So, Rob took a bag of goodies back to the states for me.
15lbs of crap!
So back on the road now. I take another little side trip to another location on the Equator where I can actually get my bike on the “Official line”. Then it’s time to head south. My first stop is to the Amazon of Ecuador. Yes, the Amazon isn;t just in Brazil.
The road to the amazon take you over a large mountain pass. The highest point was almost 4000 meters (14,000 feet for all you living in the stone age) Beautiful and cold, with strong cross winds and rain. There were even warning signs for bear crossings.
Finally the descent into the Amazon would bring some relief, but not as I expected. For a region of the amazon, it was surprisingly not hot. I expect sweltering heat and bugs galore, but it was quite temperate and not so buggy.
I traveled to one hotel that I found on Ioverlander, but it looked like it was abandon. There was one pair of guest, the owner wasn’t around. So i moved on to another place that was much nicer and equally prices. The owers let me camp in the back for $5 and they had lunch and dinner for $7.
In the not so hot amazon.
The main town with access to the jungle in the area I was in was Misahualli
I wanted to take a tour into the heart of the amazon and see indigenous people and experience the jungle, but after looking at the prices of tours, I decided to take a river tour in hopes of seeing the things that you would expect in the Amazon, but all I saw was a dirty brown river and some people mining for gold along the river edge.
$30 , What the fuck did I just pay for?
So back to town I came across a small mexican restaurant. The owner was super friendly and spoke pretty good english. He made me a burrito which ended up being two tacos instead. Anyways, he was really nice and I ended up eating there everyday while in the town. I helped him improve his business by putting him on TripAdvisor and Google maps.
Back the lodge where I was staying they offered very nice meals as well.
After spending $30 for a river ride to see nothing, I ended up seeing all kinds of wildlife in my lodge.
So I decided to take another tour, this time at a animal refuge. Here Animals are rehabilitated. Those that can be rehabilitated are released back into the wild, the rest are here for the remainder of their life. It was a really good tour because it really isn’t a zoo.
Tucan let me outta here! Hahahahaha
After the Amazon, I rode on to Banos. A very touristic town with lots of outdoor activities.
Guinea pig fresh for you.
I decided to do a couple more tours. I visited a waterfall that you could walk under.
And then took a zipline tour
Climbing up the cliff wall to the next zipline
The best tour was a river rafting tour. For $25 you raft for 4-5 hours, and includes a lunch. The zipline tour was also $25, but was only 2 hours and no lunch.
On a whim I decided to stop in Alausi on my way to Guayaquil. Ioverlander had listed a really nice hostel there and it was a good stopping point on my way.
It turned out that my timing was good as the annual bullfights were happening! Now, I am not into bullfights or hurting animals, but after looking at how they fight the bulls, I felt bad for the idiots trying to challenge the bull.
What is more amazing is the structure that they make every year out of rough lumber rope and some nails.
How this thing doesn’t fall is amazing!
Alausi is also famous for the most dangerous train ride in South America. The railroad was built in a huge vally with cliffs. Many people died making the railroad. Today its a tourist attraction. The train takes you past the famous “Devil's Nose” a mountain that looks like a nose I guess.
Not my photo
After two night in Alausi, I moved on to Guayaquil. The second largest city in Ecuador. This city features a waterfront which has been transformed in to a place to walk, eat and take your kids. Many people say that Guayaquil is not worth the visit, but I disagree. It think it was a cool city. I found a cool rock bar around the corner from my hostel and they city has lots of architecture and an historic old section that is really nice. The downside to the city is the noise. Everybody uses their horn for nothing or something. It’s a really bad culture and make a nice city shitty.
In the mountains between Alausi and Guayaquil
Ecuador's main attraction is The Galapagos, but since I can’t afford to spend $300+ dollars to visit, I took the alternative which is Isla de Plata, an island off the cost you can do a day trip. My luck again was this was whale season and there were 100’s of humpback whales swimming about.
So from Guayaquil to Puerto Lopez was only a few hours away. I took a tour to the island which included whale watching, a tour of the island, lunch and snorkeling. All for $40.00 which was a little expensive, but considering I paid $30.00 for a amazon tour that went nowhere and saw nothing, this was a big improvement.
The island is famous for the Blue Footed Boobie, a bird that dominiates the island.
Blue Footed Boobie
Along with some other birds, the island is inhabited. The island got its name because when the sun sets, the island shines like it’s made of silver, but it's actually bird shit.
The whale watching was amazing. Humpback whales swimming right under the boat and breaching all around us.
While waiting for the boat, a family was sitting across from me. It happens that I was there tour guide in Guatemala! Small world! They were driving from the USA.
From Puerto Lopez, I would spend another night in Guayaquil and then the back roads to Cuenca. Cuenca is considered to be the Swiss Alps of Ecuador. There are lots of Gringos living there. The road to Cuenca was amazing I went from tropical forest to highland mountains with the most amazing landscape.
This was one of these emotional moments in my trip because the landscape was beyond what any photo could capture. The lakes and mountain formations jetting out of the ground and the massive valley leading to Cuenca was without words. All I could keep saying was OMG this is amazing!
The plains and pacific ocean off in the distance
Parque Nacional El Cajas
A long haired donkey?
While in Cuenca, the World Cup was in the finals. A young group of french people took over a cafe. It was fun to watch them, because they were the loudest people in the city that day.
Next was a night in Loja on my way to the frontier with Peru. Loja is supposed to be the music capital of Ecuador so I decided to visit the music museum there. The museum was free thank goodness, because it didn’t really tell me anything about the history of the music, but more about the famous musicians.
Musicians, but not any real info about the music itself. Not even music being played!
And this weird painting
Loja also had a colorful market. Walking through the meat section really makes me want to become a vegetarian. And the vegetable section was just incredible. The women selling vegetables sit above the vegetable is booths like auctioneers.
Loja was with it’s charms. It had several squares, good restaurants and actricture
I would spend my last night in Ecuador at a small expat town of Villacamba. For a small town there were lots and lots of gringos.
They live there because the weather is good and it cheap.
Since I was taking the most easter border between ecuador and peru, the road was a dream for adventure riding. The road climbed over mountain pass after mountain pass.
Pavement turned into dirt and narrow tracks.
I would end Ecuador with a proper ride.