Ecuador was to provide us with another milestone. We exchanged our 110 horse power for 2 horse power, one each. Jim, feeling like Clint Eastwood but bearing little resemblance other than in his own imagination, took to a horse for the first time!! We rode very slowly and not terribly comfortably up into the Cloud Forest to be treated to some spectacular views while Jim irritated all around by whistling ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’ (guess which he was). Horses, in this case Hercules & Primavera, unlike Bertie have minds of their own and had a better handle on what to do than we did. Was a permanent swap on the cards? Not even for a second, but it did provide a lot of laughs and a much needed change from the bike.
The real milestone for us this week was to cross the Equator, having ridden 20,972 km. In fact we reached it twice in one day. At first we were surprised when the PanAmerican crossed it with no sense of occasion, not even a small sign. That did not stop us pulling over at the side of the road to get a snap of the auspicious moment on the satnav. The road then looped around and back to the equator and there was the sign that we had been seeking, at the point of the solar clock. There was a carpark but we weren’t going to be done out of a picture of Bertie at the equator and rode straight through the pedestrian opening to park proudly across the line. A chap was explaining about the solar clock to a couple, but he must have figured from our reaction to being there that to ask us to move would be pointless. Needless to say we complimented each other on how slim we looked as we had heard that you are about 2.5kg lighter at the equator, and Jim reckoned that with this fact he could even pick me up. Jim also took the opportunity to ride Bertie backwards and forwards across the line. Video here 39 secs: http://youtu.be/3GOqdnlc0ew And then we realised that we would be leaving the southern hemisphere for the last time so we stepped back into the south for one last lunch there.
Spending a couple of days in Otavalo before heading for the border with Colombia has given us time to reflect on Ecuador. A country no one had really mentioned. To anyone looking for beautiful scenery, polite, dignified people, a riot of colour, good roads to ride, and fuel at about 34p a litre, Ecuador is a must. Many of the roads marked on the map as minor or unpaved are now tarmac and a road taken to avoid Quito marked as a minor road is now a 6 lane highway, presumably to service the new airport marked as under construction on the map. That is not to say that there are not ripio roads to ride and there are the ever present obstacles to be found in the road, mostly cows. We had a bit of a moment as we came upon one as we rounded a bend on a mountain road and it was a toss up who was the most surprised. Video here 38 secs: http://youtu.be/CtrFEPUzMl4 Later we met a handful just stood in the middle of the road and then another lone cow running down a 6 lane highway probably wondering where her grass verge had gone to.
Tomorrow, we ride to the border with Colombia, a country we have heard good things about.
Ushuaia , Fin del Mundo, was at a latitude of 55 degrees south. The Equator, La Mitad del Mundo, is 0 degrees and Prudoe Bay, Alaska, La Cima del Mundo and our final destination is at 70 degrees north. So whilst the equator may be the middle of the world, we would be allowing ourselves a little too much latitude if we said we’d reached half way yet.
PLEASE DON’T FORGET WE’RE ALSO TRYING TO RAISE MONEY FOR SHELTERBOX ON THIS TRIP – AN AMAZING CHARITY. JUST CLICK AND MAKE A REAL DIFFERENCE TO PEOPLES LIVES. A DOLLAR OR FIVE, EVERY LITTLE HELPS SO SKIP THE EXPENSIVE COFFEE JUST ONCE AND DONATE – THANK YOU. https://www.justgiving.com/James-Mitchell15/