02-14-2013, 03:46 PM
Joined: May 2010
Location: Interior BC, Canada
Feb 2 Cuenca
Wanted to get on the road early today as I have a bit of a big day ahead and not sure what conditions I will encounter. Although breakfast doesnít start till 7:30, the hotel was good enough to ply me with coffee, fresh fruit, croissants and a couple of bowls of cereal so I can get out by 7.
It was great riding back up the road to Ambato along the river and through the mountains with very little traffic. Trying to keep that little Ecuadorian penalty chart in mind . . . didnít work. Sure enjoyed it.
In Ambato I turned off for the National Park with a road around Volcan Chimborazo, an inactive volcano on the way to Cuenca. The road was great. They are upgrading most of it so it was a big construction project until the turnoff back to the Pan American Hwy. However, it was pretty flat gravel and a nice ride.
The mountain was spectacular. These photos are taken when I was around 13,000 feet so, still a lot of volcano sticking up.
Gained steady altitude and hit my highest altitude so far south of the volcano at about 14,500 ft. Ran across some Llama again and a whole whack of VicuŮas. These are kind of like a cross between a Llama and a deer. Smaller than a Llama and quite skittish. Had a young one run in front of me just like a deer. They are found at higher elevations. Pretty neat looking.
It is surprisingly flat and arid at this high altitude
Once cresting the peak, ran into thick fog on the other side. Not a lot of traffic on this road but enough to have to keep an eye for shapes appearing out of the fog. Many Ecuadorians believe headlights are only for nighttime so, you have people bombing through this thick fog (in some cases couldnít see 50 feet) sans headlights. Made for some pucker moments.
One of the other things they like to do frequently is "pull over" to water the plants. In Ecuador, pulling over means just stop in the road. All of a sudden you realize there is a shape appearing in front of you . . . itís in my lane . . . it ainít moving. My helmet learned more words today.
The people living at these high altitudes appear to be more traditional natives with both men and women dressing in their distinctive garb. It is pretty desolate up there and has to take a pretty hardy people to eak out a subsistence. Frequently see men and women in the fields with large hoes harrowing the recently plowed field or, cultivating crops. Will many times see people carrying huge bundles of grasses on their backs to feed their cattle.
Some of the people living at 13-14,000 feet.
Down a bit lower, much more conducive to farming. See small plots of corn and other crops. Pastures with beef and dairy cattle. Cattle, pigs and sheep are many times fed the grass growing along the road and they are either tethered or herded, usually by the women.
Soon after rejoining the Pan American Hwy, fog struck again at much lower altitudes. The next 100 km or so was mostly thick fog and drizzle. Going so slow there was no ventilation so had to look over my glasses. Get behind someone else and be patient.
It was too bad for the fog. A couple of brief breaks allowed a quick view of the scenery which was spectacular.
Stopped at this little place for an early lunch and had seco de pollo. Delicious. Decent coffee too.
After the fog, arriving in one little town and they had this picturesque church stuck on a hillside.
See a lot of places along the road with what appears to be a freshly barbequed pig propped up like this. Also, note the cow head . . . not sure what they do with that.
Sorry for the quality of some of these pics. I finally got the last part for my Ram-Mount set up and find it difficult to dampen the vibration from the bike for moving shots.
Finally got into Cuenca, arriving at Posada del Angel located in the old part of town. An old refinished house, it is excellent. Great room, hot water, good WiFi, restaurant. Parking down the street Ė were going to let me park in a storeroom but I didnít think my big ass would make it in there.