02-15-2013, 08:37 AM
Joined: May 2010
Location: Interior BC, Canada
Feb 4 & 5 Last days in Ecuador
Had my bike in front of the hostel to get loaded up. Came out after paying the bill and there is a guy sitting in his car right behind me. I’m thinking “you have a bit of a wait buddy if you want this space” . . . he comes bounding out, sticks his hand out and introduces himself as a member of the Cuenca Dual Sport Club and welcomes me to Cuenca. Gave me a couple of stickers. Nice guy and unfortunately, I forgot his name.
Really pretty ride to Loja through valleys and (relatively) low mountains. Saw this Land Rover loaded up with literally everything except the kitchen sink. He pulled in behind me when I was stopped for an equipment adjustment. Had a good chat with David who is from Jersey and has been travelling around the world for 18 months so far. Nice guy.
Stopped for lunch that was perfect. Many times in these roadside restaurants, they don’t have a menu and basicly just ask what you want. Learned to just ask for Almuerzo – lunch. Kind of like the Blue Plate special. Soup, this sprouted corn thing they serve warm (good), rice, beans, meat in a sauce. Very hearty - really hits the spot.
As I approached Loja, started to notice some sloughing off the banks and a lot of rocks that have rolled down. Came around one corner and there is a pretty good stream across the road. Family doing their laundry in it.
Then shortly after that came on this mess – looked like this creek really went wild as it roared down this mountain. Good thing this house was in the way or all that crap would have taken out the road.
Saw these little mini-slides frequently along the road.
There are three crossings into Peru. The one at the coast is apparently the big one, the one at Macara in the middle which is smaller and one at La Balza which is a dirt road crossing. Thought the La Balza crossing would be cool but will have to see how the road is. Judging by the amount of rain they've been getting in the area, I'm not too confident. Head to Vilcabamba and see if I could get a room at a Hostel recommended by many.
Arrived at Hostel Izhcayluma which is a very neat joint on the hill overlooking Vilcabamba. Only have a room for one night so decided to stay the night then go back to Loja for a night. Would have liked to stay at Izhcayluma longer as they have some nice hikes in the area and other things to do at the hostel.
Given all this rain and the sliding I saw coming into Loja, I definitely will not be taking the little crossing into Peru. Which is fine. Talking to one of the Overlander couples who just came up that road they said the road to La Balza was very wet and very slick clay. They were having difficulty steering in a 4x4. With my demonstrated prowess in mud, it was an easy decision.
Short ride back to Loja for another night- have to go there anyhow to get the road to Macara. Wanted to get a couple of things dealt with before leaving for Peru.
Found a decent hotel - Hotel Podacarpus – secure parking & good internet.
In Latin America, many things are built to accommodate the people here. We North Americans are somewhat larger than the locals and you many times run into (literally) things built for the shorter people here like this TV support.
Couldn’t find a place for dinner so settle for a sandwich and Inca Kola. Inca is a Peruvian soft drink and first reminded me of Cream Soda but then had a bit of a bubble gum after taste. Believe it or not, wasn’t bad.
Two other items
SOAT - That is the Ecuadorian vehicle insurance. It is mandatory. When we crossed into Ecuador, the office at the border that sold insurance was having computer problems and told us to buy it in Quito. First clue it may not be that big of a deal. I tried at least a half dozen times to buy the damned stuff and could never find the right place to buy it. Found lots of places that sold it but they either didn't have what I needed or wouldn't sell for an imported bike. Went through tons of police roadblocks and they usually waved me through when they saw I was a foreigner - never once asked for proof of insurance.
My pet peve in Ecuador (and to a lesser extent, Colombia). Car alarms. For some reason the car manufacturers don’t install car alarms at the factory down here so, everyone decides they need those stupid after-market alarms that go through a whole range of sounds from sirens to beeps to buzzers. And they chirp from one to four times every time the arm/disarm the little nuisances. And nobody seems to know how to operate them - they go off when you start the car, they go off when you stop the car, they go off when somebody lets off a firecracker nearby (like all the time).
Everybody has them, they are always going off by accident, everybody ignores them . . . what’s the point? Maybe it’s a status symbol down here, I don’t know. But if anyone knows where those things are made and can blow up the factory, the world will be truly thankful.