Two Brothers Ride Ecuador

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by FrameOil, Dec 24, 2018.

  1. FrameOil

    FrameOil Adventurer

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2013
    Oddometer:
    40
    Let’s get one thing clear – This is a write up about my brother and me riding motos through Ecuador. There are multiple write-ups on this type of adventure, including the company that we rented from. I am also writing about the non-riding days in Quito. Please, feel free to merely skip to the next thread if you are rolling your eyes at this point. However, we did have a blast! :clap:clap

    In October of this year, my brother Dave and I had the opportunity to travel to Ecuador and ride motorcycles -mainly on dirt roads- through the country. For us, this was the trip of a lifetime. I gave some thought as to what to entitle this report. As I write this section, it is Christmas Eve, so my brain is not functioning at 100%. :norton I’m going with something simple. Two Brothers Ride Ecuador.

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    Dave (MufflerBearings on ADV Rider) and I (FrameOil on ADV Rider) have ridden motos all over Baja, and have explored almost all of the peninsula. :happayWe live pretty close to the Mexican border, so Baja is an easy weekend outing. As I have stated in other posts, if you have an abundance of free time on your hands that you are able and willing to waste, you can see our trip reports from some of our longer rides in 2013 and 2017: “Las Tres Chaquetas Ride Baja” and “Los Siete Afortunados en Baja”. Anyway, we ride a fair amount and always have a good time. We decided to expand our adventures to further south, so we started looking around at other countries to ride. Having never been to South America, and after reading some other ride reports, we chose Ecuador.:beer

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    Above - Dave – his name in the background in case you questioned it…:lol3

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    Above - Me. For all of my friends and family who have not seen me in 6 months – chicks dig the beard. :jack

    We searched for companies that rented motos and offered services in case of catastrophic break downs since we would be a long walk from home. Dave and I are both pretty well versed with motorcycles and maintenance (even field fixes), but sometimes engines blow up, and not much can be done. Being out in the remote mountains of a South American country on dirt roads without any type of life line is not preferable, so we went with a well known moto rental company out of Quito. This company has operated for some time in the region, and offers support if needed.

    We made our reservations to depart from Quito on the bikes on October 8th, returning October 13th. In order to acclimate to the higher altitudes of Ecuador (Quito is 9,350 ft), we arrived on October 5th. This also gave us an opportunity to explore Quito for a couple of days. Enough of this. Let’s talk Ecuador! :y0!




    October 5th: After flying through Panama, we landed late at night in Quito and had an uneventful walk through Customs and Immigration. I am always reminded how most countries don’t have the stringent standards of international security that the US has had for the last 17+ years. We proceeded out to the terminal, and the driver from the hotel where we stayed the first night was waiting for us, sign in hand, and drove us to the hotel.

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    Dave doesn’t get out much. :1drink



    October 6th: You may see some pictures of random cars throughout this write up. We are both huge fans of the odd and awesome. :super

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    After a quick breakfast of pancakes and eggs at the hotel, we proceeded in to the city. We checked in to the Hotel Inter Americano, which is right next to “La Ronda”. I will explain in detail what La Ronda is later, but the hotel was not bad for $40/night in the center of a major city. After dumping our bags, we immediately called a taxi to take us up to El Panecillo, a large statue of the virgin standing on the head of a serpent way up on the side of the mountain above Quito.

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    The virgin is holding her hand in the air and is giving a blessing to the entire city. Please note – I am not proselytizing. Merely regurgitating what the historical meaning of the statue represents. It is a cool landmark. There were a few vendors that were already set up and ready to sell their goods to visitors. We even found a Peruvian flute band! :D If you know me, the last comment was sarcastic. You can find Peruvian flute bands anywhere in the world.

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    We decided to get out in to the community and walked down the 50,000 steps back to the city. We are pretty sure that we found the route for some of Quito's intense urban downhill competitions for mountain bikers. Just look it up on youtube and I am sure you will know what I mean.:muutt

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    At the bottom of the hill, we meandered the local's market and then proceeded to the Iglesia de la Compania de Jesus – a very ornate church that is all gold on the inside. :confused

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    One interesting fact – There is a listed price for Ecuadorians, and one price listed for foreigners. Any ideas what the ACLU would have to say if something like that was found in any place in the US? :topes

    We had our first real Ecuadorian meal at a café. The Seco de Chivas was delicious! I was somewhat surprised that the despite the name, the goat was awesome. :dukegirl

    We made it to the Plaza Grande; the center of town, and were promptly greeted by two Tourism Officers. They were nice and asked us for our names for their records. They allowed us a quick picture, and let us know where their offices were located should we need anything during our stay.:wave

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    No – we don’t stick out, at all!

    After taking pictures of the Simon Bolivar statue, we proceeded to the Basilica del Voto Nacional. This is an impressive church in Quito, complete with gargoyles on the exterior. We walked through the church, then climbed to the top, where we walked on the catwalk above the main sanctuary, then climbed ladders to the top of the highest point. From here, we were afforded impressive views of the city.

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    The above picture is of a statue that is in the church. I dunno…seems like an odd pose…:confused

    Afterward, we made our way back to the Plaza Grande, where we waited out the rain in an ice cream shop. The ice cream in Ecuador is made with real cream. :tb

    We made it back to the hotel after the deluge, and then proceeded to La Ronda. La Ronda is an alley where there are a lot of restaurants, shops, night clubs, bars, etc. It is mainly locals that go there, so we definitely wanted to see it. We walked through and found a good place to eat some empanadas. Real empanadas are so tasty!

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    October 7th: Since our hotel was so close to Santo Domingo Square, we walked there, then caught a bus to Parque Ejido to rent some bicycles. Quito is quite bicycle friendly. Every Sunday, the city closes one direction of the main street(s) through the city to allow cyclists a stress free opportunity to ride. Even better, there are police officers at most intersections to allow an added sense of safety to the ride. We rented bicycles for super cheap in the park, then rode around the city for a while. It was awesome. We both thought we were a little out of shape, then remembered the 5000+ feet of elevation difference between home and Quito, so we allowed a pass. :lift

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    On the right – Soviet made Lada. These are all over Ecuador. On the left – unit-body Toyota pick up.

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    While riding through the city we found a BMX track…in the middle of the city. It was awesome. Dave and I both raced BMX in the 80s. So, we had to take a couple of hot laps for old times' sake. :super:rilla:thumbup

    https://photos.smugmug.com/Ecuador-Greg-2018/i-bWGS8pX/0/88081363/1920/IMG_6407-1920.mp4

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    We proceeded over to the moto rental place where we would be picking up the motorcycles the next day. We filled out all of the paper work, paid the remaining balance, then were briefed on riding motorcycles in Ecuador. We were definitely not in California or even Baja, anymore. :norton

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    After checking out the operation, we left the moto rental place, then returned the bicycles. We ate lunch at a fantastic Lebanese restaurant. I speak fluent Spanish, but the waitress asked us in valley girl English, “Do you guys speak English?” She studied in the states and learned while living here. She brought us food that she recommended and we had the best meal of the trip in this place. :beer:dukegirl

    After lunch, we taxied across town to the tram and took it to the summit of the mountain at 13,000 ft. It was foggy and cold, so no view was to be had. We walked around and found an insane downhill mountain bike trail that goes from the summit all the way to the bottom. About 4,000 ft. decline of elevation on the trail. :locoSince it was almost dark, and since we did not have bicycles, we just looked around a bit then rode the tram back down the hill. The ride down the hill was entertaining. We were in a tram car with some locals who appeared to be about 10-15 years younger than us, and seemed amazed that we Americans understood Spanish. They were nice and gave us some great ideas of places to see before we left.

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    After a quick taxi ride back to the hotel, we grabbed a light dinner and turned in, excited to be on the motos once and for all the next morning.

    Stay tuned...Tomorrow we actually get to ride the motos! :happay
    #1
  2. burntlawnchair

    burntlawnchair n00b

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2013
    Oddometer:
    4
    AWESOME RR
    Did you by chance run into any 2 for 1 Real CREAM ice cream treats ?:rofl
    #2
    FrameOil likes this.
  3. poolman

    poolman Gnarly Poolside Adv. Supporter

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2010
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    Location:
    Darnestown, MD
    Great start, looking forward to the RR :lurk:lurk
    #3
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  4. FrameOil

    FrameOil Adventurer

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2013
    Oddometer:
    40
    October 8, 2018 – Quito to Otavalo. THE RIDE BEGINS

    We woke up early. The anticipation was killing us. Dave and I both felt like we were 7 years old again - waiting for our parents to roll out of bed at the crack of 5AM on Christmas morning. After a quick breakfast at the Inter Americano, we were picked up by the same taxi driver from the previous night (negotiated with him when he dropped us off to pick us up the next morning), and driven to the rental agency to pick up the bikes, and to start the journey.

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    Since we had completed all of the paperwork and received the briefing on riding in Ecuador the previous day, we simply started to suit up for the ride. A big part of the briefing for this ride was learning how the Ecuadorians drive, which is a touch different than how we drive in the states. In the US, when at an intersection and someone flashes their lights at you, it means that they are giving you the right of way. In Ecuador, it means, “Watch out, I’m taking the right of way.” :becca Cultural factors such as this were crucial to understand before venturing out onto the roads of a foreign country.

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    We finished packing up, stored our extra gear in the closet at the rental agency, then proceeded to check out our bikes for the trip.

    Our mean machines!

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    2017 Suzuki Dr 650s! While we both ride XR 650Rs back home, the DRs are a proven work horse, and are legitimate Enduros. :clap

    The rental agency supplied us with spare tubes, tire irons, a first aid kit, a spare clutch cable (that came in quite handy – story will be told), paper maps and a GPS for each bike. If you have read the report that Dave wrote from 2013 (Los Tres Chaquetas Ride Baja), you’ll know that we never use GPS. You can imagine the anticipation of learning how to repeatedly look down at your handle bars to find your way, while navigating the streets of a major South American City. :cromagLuckily, the GPS units were the same type that I have used in multiple rental vehicles, so I immediately knew what I was looking at. Dave, however, had never used one of these devices, so he offered for me to lead us out of Quito. :ksteve

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    We had some pictures taken, and we departed. The key to following a GPS unit…is to follow the GPS unit. If it tells you to turn right, or take the second left, then do it. In some cases, you need to zoom in pretty well to see the differentiation between the turns where the streets are close together. I know this and had made the adjustment to my GPS. Dave had not. We were riding quickly through Quito, and took the tunnel out to the city limits. When I started to make the second right (as indicated), Dave passed me and pointed to the first right. I shook my head and pointed to the second right, but he insisted. He dove off of the highway on the first right, and I followed him. Our chosen alternate path took us down the Pan American Highway in the southern direction. :loco We wanted to go north. We took the highway for a mile or so where we found an offramp. We pulled over and Dave had some choice words for our newly acquired technological features, :rad then we returned to the city and started over. Once we were out of the city, it was my turn to mis-read the GPS, and took us on an off-shoot heading due east. :dunno

    We found our way to Mitad del Mundo (Middle of the Earth – equator) where we parked, paid and went into the almost theme park style monument for the equator. The only catch is…This is not the equator. :hmmmmm The world thought this was the equator until recent GPS technology told us that the real equator is about 250 yards to the north of this monument. However, most people visit Ecuador and go to this large monument, thinking that they stood on the equator. In reality, they miss it by about the length of 2 and a half football fields. :eek2

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    Anyway, we looked around the monument, took some pics, then proceeded to the real equator (Museo Inti-ñan), where we spent some time, took a tour and learned all about the invisible line that separated the northern and southern hemispheres. It was awesome. The Museo Inti-ñan is not the attraction that Mitad del Mundo is, but affords the real equator experience. :happay

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    That is a real shrunken head in the display case on the right. :eekers Sorry about the glare.


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    This is the inside of a mud house that is over 200 years old. The person who lived here lived to be well over 100 years old, and lived in this one room house for her entire life.


    There were very few people. We even participated in the experiments of walking on the Equator with your eyes closed (impossible), watching water go down a drain on the equator, along with just north and south of it, and finally…balancing an egg on the head of a nail.

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    Walking on the equator felt like you were literally being pulled from side to side. It was nutty. :freaky


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    The water going down the drain on the equator just goes straight down, no swirl. :flush


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    Southern hemisphere = clockwise swirl :flush


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    and northern hemisphere = counterclockwise swirl. :flush


    We were challenged by our tour guide to balance an egg on the head of a nail. Only about half of our little group was able to do it. I tried first.


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    I managed to balance it. :super Then Dave tried.


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    He did it as well. :thumb We were given certificates stating that we had balanced the egg, along with having our passports stamped, then departed.

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    From the equator, we descended a twisty road into the Guayllabamba River Canyon. It was a super sweet descent, and we were greeted with both spectacular views and warm weather. On the way down the highway, we were stopped by local police at a roadblock, who asked us for our passports and moto paperwork. Getting questioned by police is nothing new in Latin American countries, but these guys only questioned us, while we watched multiple cars full of locals get waived by. :hmmmmm We continued on and enjoyed the ride!

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    We rolled into San Jose de Minas.

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    This is a cool little town. This town, along with all of the others has the Spanish influence with the square in the center, flanked by restaurants, shops and a large church. :pope Few people were out, and it felt like we had the whole town to ourselves.

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    After a few pictures, we started to gear up and the rain hit.

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    We put on our economically purchased rain shells, and they worked great. We have ridden in the rain and snow on other rides, and at the time it was miserable. :vardy We realized that we were miserable since we were wet. This time, however, with the right gear, we rode dry and warm. Being a pretty good down pour, we began the ascent up the cobblestone road to Otavalo. Ever ridden on cobblestones in the rain and fog?

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    Some of these cobblestones even afforded a layer of mud or moss, which added to the experience and excitement. The trick is to not freak out, and lightly feather the throttle. We ascended for almost 50 KM without issue. As we entered Otavalo, we turned off to continue on the cobblestone road up to Mojanda Lakes. Although it was still foggy, we had a decent view of the lake. :raindance

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    We descended back down into Otavalo. It became dark during the descent, but the DRs didn’t mind. We just took it a little slower. We road around Lake San Pablo to our hotel. After checking in and taking off our rain gear, we ate a fantastic dinner and slept well. :dukegirl:snore

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    Tomorrow – The rain forest!
    #4
  5. powderzone

    powderzone Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2016
    Oddometer:
    595
    Location:
    Calgary
    Awesome! Enjoying the RR. I did a fly n ride further south this past September/Oct and really enjoyed it. Ecuador or Colombia are next!
    #5
    CourtRand and FrameOil like this.
  6. FrameOil

    FrameOil Adventurer

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2013
    Oddometer:
    40
    Thanks for the read! What is the name of the thread for your write up for this past Sept/Oct?
    #6
  7. FrameOil

    FrameOil Adventurer

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2013
    Oddometer:
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    Thanks, Poolman! Sorry about the lapse in responses. Between work and the holidays, the write up is taking a backseat. I’ll git er done!
    #7
  8. FrameOil

    FrameOil Adventurer

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2013
    Oddometer:
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    You’re too funny, Scott. You kiss your Ma with that mouth?
    #8
  9. powderzone

    powderzone Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2016
    Oddometer:
    595
    Location:
    Calgary
    #9
    FrameOil likes this.
  10. FrameOil

    FrameOil Adventurer

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2013
    Oddometer:
    40
    October 9, 2018 – Otavalo to Mindo

    The rain had let up during the night, so we had clear(ish) skies. :clap The best part was that the only rain that we experienced was on the first day, so our rain gear stayed packed away for the remainder of the trip. The Hotel we stayed in the first night was very accommodating. Since we had some distance to cover, along with sites to see, we asked for an early breakfast, which they happily accommodated. :D

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    We started out and cruised through Otavalo, which was just setting up the daily market at Plaza de los Ponchos.

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    Since it was early :snore(8AM when we rolled through Otavalo), we did not have an opportunity to look through the market, so we proceeded to one of the coffee houses on the perimeter of the town square (Cotacachi). :*sip*

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    We were enjoying our coffee, when we noticed a large number of ex-pats that were milling about. A small group joined us at the coffee shop and told us about life as an expat in Ecuador. It sounds about the same as Baja/Mexico, but without the presumed hysteria of being kidnapped and held for ransom. One thing that turned us off quickly to these ex-pats was when a local, older woman approached and asked for money. A simple “No” would have sufficed, but the ex-pat we were talking to decided to make it a public spectacle by shouting at the woman in marginally comprehensible Spanish. :confused Maybe I am old-fashioned, but just because you have some disposable income to live/travel in a foreign country, does not give you the right to treat the locals like dirt. :scratchAnyway, we simply mounted up and rolled away. We rode to the leather shop/tannery just down the road, but they were still setting up, as well. What was truly miraculous were the amount of dogs that were hanging around the tannery, and not bothering the dozen cow hides that had been set out to dry on the sidewalk. Maybe these dogs had learned the hard way what would happen if they attempted to carry away one of these treasures? :hung

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    We departed Otavalo, filled up the tanks, and proceeded into the mountains. We were going to hit out first real bit if dirt, so we were excited! The ride into the mountains was beautiful. Spending most of the previous day in the city and navigating cobblestones in the rain, we were grateful to be feeling like we were really in Ecuador. The scenery was so awesome that we had make several stops to just look around.

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    I pulled up on Dave who had stopped in the middle of a road and was looking dead ahead. There was a small deer looking back at us, as if to say, “What are you doing up here?” The deer just walked off the road and climbed a cliff that I would not be able to climb on my best day with gear. He simply walked up it and disappeared into the forest.

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    I think we missed the deer in the above shot, but the right side of the road is what he walked up.

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    When we started the journey, we had been briefed on the Freedom Road. Freedom Road is a dirt road that deviates from the established route for the day, and is marginally technical. :ricky We, of course, wanted to try it. It ended up being in great shape. It was steeper than most of the trails that we were told we would be riding, and the rocks were loose, but it was completely doable.

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    When we planned this trip, we read about the “Pack for a Purpose Community Initiative.” Simply put, purchase some school supplies and carry them with you on the ride. When you reach a remote school, give the supplies to the students and the teachers for use. :y0! Dave and I elected to participate, so we were carrying materials in our saddle bags. About 10 miles into the Freedom Road, we came across a school out in the middle of nowhere. The kids and their teacher seemed happy to see us. We gave the materials to the teacher who thanked us, as did the kids. The kids were super stoked when I brought out my bag of stickers. :clap

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    We departed the school and continued up the mountain on the Freedom Road until we reached the small village of Plaza Gutierrez. Plaza Gutierrez is accessed only by steep dirt roads, so there are few vehicles in the town. There is a large green tower in the center of town that Dave elected to climb, but quickly descended when the whole tower started to move from the wind and the added weight. :doh

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    We continued the last few KM to Apuela, where we attempted to look around the Coffee Grower’s Association, but it was closed for the day. We did, however get an opportunity to see some ladies sorting through coffee beans on the side walk. Just passed Apuela, we found a great place along the Intag river to have lunch. A lot of places in Ecuador serve potatoes with every meal. Every meal…Most places that we went to had no menu. We would simply walk in and they would ask, “Van a comer?” If you answered “Si” then they brought you whatever they had to eat that day. This place was no different. Potato soup and well-prepared beef. After we shed our gear for lunch, Dave and I looked around the river and the different areas all around the restaurant.

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    The Intag river is impressive and was rushing pretty well. Lunch was tasty. We suited back up and continued on pavement for a bit until our turn off on the dirt for the remainder of the day. We stopped at Nangulvi Hot Springs, where we paid our entry fee, then walked to the waterfall. This place also has hot springs that are a further walk, if desired. The waterfall was impressive, and well worth the walk/fee. They had also built a small cabina type of building where guests can sit and relax for the day. :bubba

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    After the waterfall, we ascended the dirt road and were starting to get into some real rain forested area. We also found a cemetery in the middle of nowhere.

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    We continued on through the forest. It was great seeing all of the wild life and the low hanging trees. We made it to the bird sanctuary, killed the bikes and coasted into the parking lot in stealth mode. We still got dirty looks from the gore-tex clad European tourists who had voyaged to this serene place to see birds. :gerg We walked through the sanctuary a bit, but only saw hummingbirds. I often see hummingbirds at our mom’s house, so we were not too impressed.

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    Some of the Euro travelers couldn’t stop taking pictures, though. Maybe no hummingbirds in Europe? We pushed the bikes out of the sanctuary and coasted down the trail before igniting the engines. 25 short KM later, and we rolled into Mindo.

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    Mindo is a nice sized town. We proceeded to the Quetzal Chocolate Factory, where we bought up our fair share of chocolate, coffee and other treats that are known to the area. We would have taken a tour of the factory itself, but it ended at 730pm, the same time that dinner stopped being served at our final destination for the day. We elected to have dinner and skip the tour. After a re-stock of water and provisions for the following day, we made our way to the Septimo Paraiso Hotel.

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    This place was neat. The rooms were dark paneled, but who cares. The have a heated pool and a spring fed pool. Due to the cool weather, we lounged in the heated pool before dinner. The hotel has a restaurant on the bottom floor and covered walk ways all around the property so guests can enjoy long walks in the frequent rain. There was a big group of people staying there who researched bugs and reptiles. They were dining at an adjoining table in the hotel restaurant, when news of a snake on the grounds came in. The whole group (including us) jumped up and ran outside to check it out. Upon seeing us, the snake decided to take sanctuary in the wall of the hotel bar, a building next to the hotel.

    After dinner, Dave and I went for a long night walk with headlamps into the rain forest. It was awesome. Having never been in the rain forest, we had our senses pretty sharp about us, and were constantly looking around at the different noises that the forest produced. :confused

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    We saw the above creature on one of the leaves. I think this is one of these super poisonous centipedes, but he didn’t seem to mind us checking him out. :grim At the same time, there was an animal of some sort flanking us in the trees. We could see it's eyes in the light of our headlamps, but nothing else. We returned to the hotel and crashed.


    Tomorrow…worms that are 2 feet long????? :eek7
    #10
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  11. FrameOil

    FrameOil Adventurer

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2013
    Oddometer:
    40
    October 10, 2018 – Mindo to Chugchilan

    After a great breakfast at the Septimo Paraiso, we explored the grounds a bit and grabbed some more photos. I will not post any here, since I used them all in the previous day’s post. We would be on dirt for most of the day today, and doing a lot of climbing. Shortly after departing the hotel, we hit our turn off to the dirt. :clap:-) These dogs were sleeping in, and seemed to be very trusting of the local truck drivers. :snore

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    Seriously…They’re sleeping. They are not dead.

    After hitting the ATM in San Miguel de los Bancos, we hit the dirt and had a great time all day. Since we were away from civilization, we had ample opportunities to see how the locals lived in the more rural sections of the country. The town of Las Mercedes is a sleepy little town on. The locals were very nice, and one lady even opened her store for us so we could look around and purchase some trail snacks. :dukegirl

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    After crossing the bridge in Las Mercedes, we found a stream crossing.

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    Dave promised our Ma that he wouldn’t get his boots dirty or wet…

    Only a few KM into the forest, we came across this horse. He was friendly, but a little shy. We tried to coerce him to come over to us, but he didn’t seem to think the risk was worth the reward. :dllama:

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    We continued on through the picturesque landscape that Ecuador has to offer. The scenery was amazing on this section.

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    Riding in Ecuador is just like riding in Mexico. You have to watch out for livestock. The locals use the whole road. The cattle do not seem to mind the bikes. We would stop and kill the engines as to not spook the cattle. They merely walked right by us, some stopping to sniff the bikes, and sometimes us. :topes:topes

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    We rode a little further and came upon another school in the middle of nowhere. Having no additional supplies, we gave all of the kids stickers. The difference with this school was that the teacher didn’t look much older than the students. The teacher was maybe 17, with the kids ranging from ages 6-14. The kids got a kick out of the bikes, asked to sit on them and honk the horn. :y0!

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    About 300 yards past the school, we came across these huge worms. Dave found this one in the middle of the road, where a large bird was trying to carry it away. Only problem, the worm out weighed the bird. :lift This guy is about 2 feet long.

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    We rode through a lot of sugar cane fields. A lot. One farmer was boiling it down. You could smell it miles before you reached the source. It smelled like cookies. :tb

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    Since we were climbing a lot, we fueled up in Union de Toachi. This is one of the bigger gas stations that we saw on the trip. We rolled into San Francisco de las Pampas around lunch time and found a place to eat. School gets out early in Ecuador. By about 1PM, the kids are all out, working or enjoying the rest of the day. In San Francisco de las Pampas, there was one particular kid who was tearing through town on a 125cc moto, with one or two passengers each time he passed us. Without a single helmet between them, they seemed to be having a good time, riding in 5th gear. :super:thumb

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    We rode the 50KM to Sigchos, still taking in the awesome views and wildlife. Some livestock owners merely tie their animals to posts along the road -Free vegetation for them to eat.

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    Sigchos has lot to offer, but not much of it was open. We heard about a market, but the locals either did not seem to know what we were talking about, or told us that it was closed. Since it was near the end of a long day on the dirt, we elected to roll through Sigchos and make the climb to our final destination in Chugchilan. :ricky

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    Just before we reached Chugchilan, we stopped at Don Busco’s workshop to check out the furniture that the shop produces. They were also closed and the local who was locking the shop up as we rolled up did not seem interested in re-opening it for us. I don’t blame him. I like to go home after a long workday, too. Just down the road, we found a mirador (overlook) of the valley below Chugchilan. The owners of the land greeted us and pointed out points of interest to us.

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    After a donation to the land owners for allowing us to ride motorcycles on their land and check out their mirador, we departed and rode the last few KM into Chugchilan. Our accommodations for the evening were at Mama Hilda’s Hostel. Mama Hilda’s is a quaint and friendly hostel, with a little restaurant attached. The rooms are smaller, but we got our own rooms, which was great Even better, the rooms have heaters, which we welcomed being at a higher elevation and in colder weather. :vardy

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    The actual town of Chugchilan is nothing to write home about. It is a hardworking town, but the locals burn whatever they have. This produces an odd smell throughout the town. We walked through town a couple of times in about 30 mins. and that seemed to be it.

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    We spent most of the evening walking around with the 3 large German Shepherds that belong to the owner. These dogs were hilarious. They would try to tackle you if you stopped playing with them. It could be off-putting or even scary to someone who may not like dogs. For us, it was a great way to spend an evening. At one point just after dark, a random dog was outside of the gate to the hotel, and was barking at something on the street. One of the Shepherds started a stealthy approach along the wall of the hotel toward the gate to intervene. One of the other Shepherds decided that he was taking too long, so right at the moment that the first shepherd was about to pounce, his buddy came along barking and chased the random dog away. The two shepherds proceeded to get into a brief fight, then returned to the courtyard to continue their playing.:lobby

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    Dinner was served family style. There were three others staying at the hotel. The other group was from Quito, and starting work with a travel agency. Two ladies from France were the tour guides. They spoke French, English and Spanish. The third person, a gentleman, was born and raised in Quito. He spoke Spanish. The funny thing was that halfway through dinner, we discovered that most of us spoke English. You just never know who you are going to run into! Dinner was great! After our appetizer of potato soup, we feasted on a great egg and meat dish.

    After dinner, we crashed.

    Tomorrow – Crater lake and coughing motorcycles!
    #11
  12. MikeS

    MikeS Fur shur! Vamos!

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2003
    Oddometer:
    1,358
    Location:
    South of the Border on the Minnesota Riviera
    Thank you so much for including town names in your RR. I'm planning a return to Ecuador, and I'm taking notes.
    #12
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  13. BikePilot

    BikePilot Long timer

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2005
    Oddometer:
    11,573
    Location:
    Golden CO
    Awesome pictures and report!
    #13
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  14. FrameOil

    FrameOil Adventurer

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2013
    Oddometer:
    40
    October 11, 2018 – Chugchilan to Salinas

    Since we had some ground to cover today, we elected to skip breakfast. We departed the Hostel at 7AM, rode through a quiet Chugchilan, and descended into the valley.

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    Immediately after we hit the valley floor, we started climbing back up to the Quilotoa Crater Lake. Since the ride up to the lake was on pavement, we were in 5th gear on the road, and holding about 60MPH. Just before we got to the lake, the bikes started “coughing,” as if to say, “Hey, I uh…I cant breathe.” We were near 14,000 feet in elevation, so we understood why this was happening. Being carbureted motos, we figured this would happen at certain points in the trip. We merely backed off about 10MPH and rolled to the top of the vista over the lake. We got there early enough that nobody else was there. We went a little past the vista point and found ourselves on a single-track trail going down the inside of the crater to the fishing village on the shore of the lake. We turned around, but not before we were met by a group of kids walking to school. After we exchanged pleasantries, they asked for some of our cookies that we were dining on for breakfast, so we gave them a whole pack to share. They seemed grateful. Not sure what their parents would think of them eating cookies for breakfast, though.

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    The Quilotoa Crater Lake was definitely a high point of the trip…no pun intended. We see things like this in magazines and on the Internet all of the time, but to see it in person was an amazing opportunity. We decided to just hang out at the lake for a bit and enjoy the view.

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    We left the vista point and went to where the shops were located in town. Only one was barely opening, so we purchased a few keepsakes to mule home. We saw these two tied together, and just walking aimlessly around town:

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    We continued on Zumbahua, where we ate a real breakfast to help supplement the cookies from earlier. The people who owned the little café where we ate were very nice and accommodating. Being travelers, Dave and I always enjoy speaking with locals. When we walked through the front door, there was a man and two women sitting in the café, who presumably owned the place. We exchanged greetings, then the two women immediately excused themselves into the kitchen and did not return. The man took our orders and brought us our food. We attempted to engage the man in conversation a couple of times, but he was more interested in watching a soccer game on TV. While this is a very common cultural norm for Ecuadorians, we are always reminded how “different strokes for different folks” definitely applies to all places and people.

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    We ascended to the highest point on our trip to the little village of Mocata. The road to Mocata was very well maintained., but I couldn’t imagine living there. The high elevation has one gasping for breath after a few steps up the steep mountainsides. Since we were on dirt and making turns somewhat regularly, we didn’t have the bikes at a speed where we noticed them struggling as they had earlier in the day. Due to the altitude, there are no trees, and the only thing that grows up there are potatoes. In the below images, you can see all of the plotted land where there are miles and miles of potato fields .

    https://photos.smugmug.com/Ecuador-Greg-2018/i-bJhwMX6/0/fd172d69/1920/IMG_6691-1920.mp4

    https://photos.smugmug.com/Ecuador-Greg-2018/i-2rdrz5H/0/d7359094/1920/IMG_6706-1920.mp4

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    We also saw a lot of mud huts. Some are block, but most are still the same 2 foot thick mud huts that one may read about in a National Geographic Explorer magazine.

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    Notice the above picture has electrical going right through the roof of the thatched roof. Not sure if that would pass fire code in the US…

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    After a picturesque ride through the area around Mocata, we ended up in Angamarca. Not much was going on in this town, except for a truck driving through town, announcing on the PA that they were selling potatoes. We looked around Angamarca for a bit, rested, then proceeded out of town. I would like to go back to Angamarca. It was a quiet town, and had a nice feel to it.

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    Since we were early to Angamarca, we decided that we would have lunch in the next town, El Corazon. In the short ride from Angamarca to El Corazon, we passed this horse…by himself…walking with purpose while carrying (what I believe to be) sugar cane.

    https://photos.smugmug.com/Ecuador-Greg-2018/i-d96g2kQ/0/72e0c9f5/1920/IMG_6709-1920.mp4

    A couple of miles before, we passed a group of dudes cutting sugar cane and loading up another horse in a similar fashion, so we imagine that this guy came from there, and knew which way to go/get home. As we passed him, he got all of the way over to his side of the road in order to give us more room than we needed. Smart horse.

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    This guy almost decapitated us…

    A little further up the road, I was a bit behind Dave when I saw him look down, suddenly. A chicken was flopping around in the middle of the dirt road, so I figured he ran it over. This was indeed the case when I got up to where the chicken was. Long story short, we found the owner, apologized and paid for the loss of the chicken. The lady was very nice, understood that it was an accident, and thanked us for stopping. She said that people never stop when a chicken is run over.

    We rolled into El Corazon around lunch time and had some great chicken at a local restaurant!

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    In El Corazon, we purchased some locally made moonshine that is made from the sugar cane. We walked into the store and nobody was there working. We spoke out loud and still nothing. Upon inspection of the back room, we found the shop owner passed out, presumably from too much of his own product. We tried to wake him, but no luck. We did make sure he was alive, though. He was just wasted. Dave walked to the shop next door and asked that shop owner if he had any ideas. The man there was nice and seemed to know the drill. He came over and collected our money, and we departed well equipped for the coming evening.

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    What would your local county health inspector have to say about this moonshine operation?

    We polished off the rest of the day with spectacular views and a brief stop in Facunda Vela. Facunda Vela is a smaller town that has jam and marmalade available for sale. The town was pretty closed up, but it was nice to ride around a bit and check it out.

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    We rolled into Salinas and checked into Hostal La Minga in town. The hostel let us put the bikes in their garage, then gave us each our own rooms. After washing the trail dust off, we proceeded to explore the town.

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    We found a large swing on the side of the hill, looking over the town. The property owner allowed us to go up and use it for $1. Best part, he told us his dog would guide us!

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    I think the dog had more fun than we did.

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    We ate at a pizza place (to be honest, by this point we had enough potatoes to last a lifetime) and had some great calzones. The lady who waited on us also brought two shots of the Ecuadorian equivalent to blue mezcal. This stuff could have removed the tar from the road.

    After dinner, we walked through Salinas.

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    No ADA in Ecuador.

    After walking off our calzones and buying all sorts of chocolate, this dog walked up to me and sat down.
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    Tomorrow – More on Salinas!
    #14
  15. FrameOil

    FrameOil Adventurer

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2013
    Oddometer:
    40
    October 12, 2018 – Salinas to Quevedo

    We had a short ride today, so we took some time to really explore Salinas. :clap After breakfast, we went to the Tourism Office in the center of Salinas, and hired a tour guide to show us some of the industry that Salinas is known for. Don Victor was our guide for the morning.:johntm Don Victor is a true gentleman, and one of the most respected elders in Salinas. :thumb Everyone who passed him greeted him by either bowing or shaking his hand. It sort of felt like we were walking around with Vito Corleone. Over two hours he took us to a variety of places including the cheese factory, chocolate factory, soccer ball maker, natural oil distillery, ham curing plant, mushroom and fruit dehydration facility, wool mill :bert and a variety of shops along the way. It was an action packed two hours with walking around a town at a high altitude on steep roads. It was great!

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    Above – Some of the locals brought raw milk (carried by llamas and donkeys) to be processed into cheese. A few had other appointments, so they tied up their animals at the back of the cheese factory so that they could return later for their appointment.

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    Above – Cheese Factory

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    Above – Chocolate Factory. This place smelled amazing. They did everything here from roast the raw cacao beans to process and sell the final product.

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    Above – Soccer ball maker. Hand stitched! Notice the guy making him has PPE including and limited to a handkerchief over his mouth. We were in there for about 3 mins and felt like we had been sniffing glue all of our life. :ace

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    Above – Ham curing.

    After making some purchases at the Ladies Knitting Cooperative of an alpaca scarf and beanie for the wife, we bid Don Victor farewell and started the ride toward Quevedo around 12PM. :wave Since we were travelling almost exclusively down hill, we went from Salinas at 12,800 ft down to about 2500 ft in elevation within 50 KM. The ride was on steep dirt switchbacks and through the fog. It was great. :super

    We came upon these corralled pigs on the side of the deserted trail. As you can hear the younger ones, they are somewhat anxious, while mom is tied up outside of their pen. Sorry for the commentary in the video. I couldn’t help myself (insert reference to the movie, Deliverance…:ricky:ricky

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    We rode through a variety of small towns along the way: Arrayan, La Palma, La Libertad and then stopped to rest in San Luis de las Mercedes. San Luis de la Mercedes is a decent sized town. We stopped to rest, then noticed that Dave’s bike was losing air in the front tire. After a quick inspection of the valve stem, we removed a piece of grit that was the culprit, re—aired, checked, and kept riding.

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    We rode through Moraspungo, refueled, then proceeded through miles and miles of Palm Groves. Even though we were on pavement, it was beautiful scenery. Some of these groves were really plush. Irrigation to boot, the whole 9 yards!

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    Riding into Quevedo was a bit of a change after being away from civilization for the past 4 days. Quevedo is a bigger town, with a lot of people. We stayed at the Hotel Olimpico in Quevedo, which by chance has an Olympic sized swimming pool!

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    It was rather warm, so we swam for a while, enjoying the non-US compliant high diving platform. These have been obsolete at recreational US pools for some time.

    We ate dinner at a Chinese restaurant called Chifa Jade. I was a little bit leery of Chinese food in South America, but it was awesome. After we rode back to the hotel, it was dark. We walked down the road to buy some water for the next day’s ride. We got about 3 blocks from the hotel and noticed that all of the business had custom built cages around their entrances. As in, nobody could get in. If you wanted to buy something, you had to hand the money through the bars, and they would hand you your items. We took this as a clue that two gringos most likely had no business wandering the streets in this particular section of town, so we scurried back to the hotel and crashed for the night. :hack:doh

    Tomorrow – A steep climb out to the Pan American Highway!
    #15
  16. FrameOil

    FrameOil Adventurer

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2013
    Oddometer:
    40
    October 13, 2018 – Quevedo to Quito

    After breakfast at the Hotel Olimpico restaurant, we started out in to a relatively quiet Quevedo. Being Saturday morning, we expected more traffic, but it was really light, so moving through the larger city was quick. If you have traveled to Central/South America, you have most definitely seen a Tuk Tuk (Rickshaw):

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    We made our way out of Quevedo and into La Mana. La Mana was a pretty decent sized town. We saw a lot of really cool cars in this town.

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    When we missed our turn off, we found this neat little church :pope:

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    We rolled into Pucuyacu pretty early.

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    In Pucuyacu, we asked if the road to Sigchos was passible. If you recall from earlier in the report, we went through Sigchos on day 3. We were crossing back through Sigchos and over to the Pan American Highway. Anyway, I walked in to a store that was open, the lights were off, and the owner was so sound asleep, I actually thought he might be dead. :grim I started to walk out to ask Dave for his opinion (he was waiting with the bikes), when the man finally woke up. We both had a good laugh when I told him I thought he was dead. :rofl Since the store owner stated that the road to Sigchos was open, we proceeded up it.

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    It was a steep, but fun climb to Sigchos! Since we had already seen Sigchos, we rolled through and continued to Isinlivi. Isinlivi was quiet, but we did talk to two Americans that were backpacking.

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    We climbed to the top of the Guingopana Pass (over 12,000 ft), then descended down to the pavement. Our dirt riding was over for the trip. :2cry

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    When we hit pavement, we crossed paths with a couple on a big BMW touring bike from the same place that we rented from. They waved, but Dave and I both thought the driver looked absolutely horrified. They had just ridden through the capitol of Equador, and down the Pan American Highway, so that could have played into it. However, since his dirt was just beginning, hopefully he was able to relax a bit. :jkam

    We turned on to the Pan American Highway and proceeded north for the paved 75KM to Quito. As we were turning on to the highway, I noticed that my bike would not go into neutral. I tried a few times, then noticed that it was struggling in other gears as well. I yelled, “Dave!” He didn’t hear me, and turned out across south bound lanes and proceeded north. I figured his turning around would be more of a task than my shifting, so I took off immediately after him and cruised in 5th gear until the toll booth just south of Quito. When I approached the booth after Dave to pay, I was fumbling for neutral and it finally went. I got my wallet out to pay, just to be told by the operator that Dave had paid for me. He had already pulled over on the side of the highway after passing through the toll booth.

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    I attempted to put the bike in to first gear, but it leaped forward and died. “Uh-oh.” :eekers I tried again and the same. At this point, the semi-truck driver behind me had enough of my mechanical issues and laid on his horn. :devildog While this was not the most helpful action that he could have taken, I elected to start the DR in first gear, and take off at the same time. It worked, but doing the Hail Mary across lanes of the largest highway in South America was hair-raising. I told Dave what had happened, so he squeezed the clutch. When he did this, the cable snapped. :doh These things happen. Being relatively overjoyed that I was not underway when the cable broke, we quickly swapped it out with the spare, and continued.

    Just past the toll booth, we stopped at La Vaca restaurant where we wanted to get a milk shake, but the wait was 2 hours. We looked around a bit, then rolled into Quito. We made a wrong turn in Quito, and literally ended up on the same road that we got lost on the first day. When I pulled up to Dave, I asked him, “Why do I feel like I am in a Steinbeck novel?” :D:jack:rofl We both thought it was ironic that we were lost in the same town where we started, but easily found our way, thanks to the GPS.

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    We rode through some neighborhoods, and found ourselves at the Los Hot Dogs de la Gonzalez Suarez restaurant. I thought foot long hot dogs were a thing of the past, but we dined on some of the best dogs we had eaten in the past week. :lol3

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    We refueled the bikes and rolled in to the rental agency around 4PM. After checking our bikes in, we grabbed our bags that we had stashed at the agency, loaded our crusty road clothes, grabbed a hotel near the airport, and had an uneventful flight home.

    All in all, a fantastic trip! As I said earlier, South America was a bucket list for both Dave and me. It’s checked off, but we are by no means finished exploring South America. Where will the next trip be? Time will tell. :clap:happay:super
    #16
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  17. JTM386

    JTM386 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2017
    Oddometer:
    37
    Location:
    MONTANA/CALIFORNIA
    EPIC!!!!!!! Great ride report as always Greg.
    #17
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  18. sandsman

    sandsman Shut up and ride!!!!

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2011
    Oddometer:
    1,270
    Location:
    Greenville, Tx
    I rented from the same bike rental with a friend in 2015, was an epic trip...….til I fell on the side of a mountain on the last day of riding and broke my knee. I rode back in to Quito 5 1/2 hrs on the bike with a broken knee. Guys at Freedom we great though. Long story on the broken knee, but have been back to riding and adventuring.
    #18
    CourtRand and FrameOil like this.
  19. FrameOil

    FrameOil Adventurer

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2013
    Oddometer:
    40

    Ouch...were you not wearing braces, or was it just a super bad fall?
    #19
  20. sandsman

    sandsman Shut up and ride!!!!

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2011
    Oddometer:
    1,270
    Location:
    Greenville, Tx
    It was just an odd fall, totally healed up. I lost my up shift muscle due to compartment syndrome because of the accident. It was just such an unusual circumstance. Leg already had been broken and had a rod in it. I've ridden over 75,000 miles since then. Great RR though and didn't mean to derail it. Picture shows what 56 staples looks like.
    leg 56 staples.JPG
    #20