After 3 days relaxing, mostly horizontal in a hammock, it was time to move on. Reading the guide book and various info on the net it seemed the easiest way across the border into Ecuador was through Macara and this proved to be the case. A 2 day ride saw us riding through poor Peruvian towns where enterprise was the name of the game such as the chaps who put a rope across a dry bank next to where the road was flooded and created their own toll road. Video here 1:32 http://youtu.be/9sr0NLGnEtk
At the border everything was calm and quiet, quite a difference from other borders we have previously crossed. The Peruvian side took very little time although for the first time our insurance for the bike was requested. A ride across the bridge saw us at the Ecuador border. Getting us in was the usual matter of filling in a form. Getting Bertie in was an altogether more lengthy affair with forms, copies of more forms, photos of the license plate and chassis number followed by more forms, etc etc. And the office this all took place in was of course the one with no fan or a/c so Jim looked like he was melting when he finally reappeared. And we were once more in a new country.
It had been a long ride to get there so a stop at the border town of Macara was called for ready for a fresh start in a new country the next day. We checked out the main route north on the map and as is our wont, chose another route. This was scuppered about 10km in after having had heavy rainfall the night before, the route was very muddy and the front wheel sliding about made us turn back (with 20,000km on it the front tyre is past its best). Checking with workmen along the way, they confirmed that there was no asphalt on that road and it would be more of the same. The ‘alternative’ main road north turned out to be a great ride though with lorries negotiating flooded roads and other amusing diversions. The road climbed and became one curve after another, rising high up mountain sides before descending back into the valleys with small towns and villages en route, the temperatures rising and falling between 20c and 30c just as often as we went into cloud. We came to an army road block where the 2 on duty were insistent about seeing our passports. It soon became obvious that our journey was quite a source of amusement to them as they looked at all the visa stamps we had acquired.
Stopping in small towns is a treat but we have become an object of curiosity again, although unlike Argentina the people are more reserved in their approaches. Our second day in Ecuador saw us continue to ride along the PanAmerican with more of the same twists and turns, so unlike the PanAm in Peru through the desert with not a bend to be seen.
A stop at the small town square in Saragoza brought us 3 small children complete with shoe shining boxes. Looking at our feet we must have seemed like ideal clients until Jim revealed the full size 13, almost knee high, bike boots. Gamely the lad took on the challenge and an immaculate pair of boots appeared at the other end. ‘How much’ we asked. 50 cents came the reply. If ever there was a case for a tip, this was it.
Cuenca was a port of call with a magnificent cathedral complete with wonderful lighting from its stained glass windows (according to the guide book). Well it would have been but all doors were very firmly shut. However as we have found, treats always come along unexpectedly and this time it was in the form of a procession of beauty queens who were vying to become Miss Ecuador 2015, accompanied by classic cars, marching bands and dancers. Our money was on Miss Cuenca. Video here 0:21 http://youtu.be/0t1WV1YHR1U
And so we move on. There’s a volcanic crater about a days ride from here reputed to have a beautiful green blue lake in it – best go have a look at it then.