Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Ecuador-- South of Equator

Once in Ecuador, we had 4 days to cross through to Peru.  The race was on.  We had to skip Quito this time, but that made our path pass the horse farm where I had volunteered for 3 months before returning to TN.  We stopped and said hello to Cristian, the new volunteer, the dog, and the horses.

The road through Ecuadior soars into the highlands and gets cold and cloudy as we climb through pathwork southern Ecuador, pushing for the border.

On this day, the fog, or cloud rather, was of epic proportion.  It made gave sudden fits of fright as trucks fumbled through with no lights.  One could not see more than 10ft in front of you.  This was a particularly clear moment.

This was a random stop in nowhere land.  This hotel is old and creepy, and the owner wore a Dr. Suess shirt and made his own tequila.   I puked this night from some weird food.

The same hotel, a little creepy.

Sugar cane is one of the main crops south of the US border.

We skirted out of the high mountains to find it hot and dusty, and found a tiny back road to get us back into the hills to Vilcabamba, a town famous for the longevity of its people.  I met a 99 year old man strolling up the street with a big smile.  Supposedly there was someone 127 years old.

Moments of realization and clarity come at random moments and work themselves out on the long solitary roads.

Jason, a bicyclist from England--on the road for 21 months so far.

These effigies are made by everyone, all over Ecuador for burning at midnight on the New Year.

Alfredo and the family from D.C.

This New Year´s Eve morning, we loaded our things and took off for the run to the border.  My back wheel turned from the slightest wobble to a full on shake.  We turned around and found the culprit.
Destroyed wheel bearings.  This was the day before we needed to be out of the country, New Year´s Day, the end of the race.  Vilcabama is a small town far off the main road.  Stores would close at midday and remain closed through the next day and possibly the next.  This was a disasterous blow after such a hard push through Ecuador.  The owner of the hotel walked us around the small town calling people for our needed part. With no luck, we hired a taxi for the next big town, 45 minutes away.  It was already midday.  Paying $7, the taxista flew to the city of Loja and dropped us on the doorstep of a name we had written on a cigarette pack from our search in Vilcabamba.  He was closing the shop when we arrived.  He looked at the shambled part, turned around, grabbed a brand new one, charged me $9, and that was it.  That easy.  That lucky.  "Pissin rainbows" is the term.  We tranquilly rode back laughing, replaced the part and joined in the festivities of the turn of the New Year, 2012.

In the town square, on the steps of the church, the speakers blared and people danced in the New Year, til 5am.

At midnight, the burning began.  On almost every street corner on the grid of streets, the effigies rose in flames and people, young and old, jumped through the licking fires burning off the dirt from the last year.

The next morning we rode, bound to the border.  It was much longer than we thought...

...and much more technical from all the mud and landslides.  We were running out of gas at one point deep in the mountains.  We asked around and found a house that distributed for that part of the valley.  They said they had nothing, but we called it a bluff and pleaded a bit.  They drained the drips from the tank and then siphoned the gas out of their own motorcycle.  We were saved.

This ride was the last run of the umbrella.  It broke, Mike lost it, I found it, then I lost it.  Needless to say, there were some bumps.


Living the border dream after an incredibly long day.  Happy New Year, from the gutter, again.

We are the first and second visitor at this border for 2012.  This is also the first time we have ever checked ourselves into a country.  The guy couldn´t see the papers.  The race was hard won, 9pm in the darkness.   Welcome to PERU! 

The EQUATOR : 10,000 Mile Review

After ALL that we've been through, its a stunning realization that...we're only half way.

Tennessee to the Equator -- Tennessee, USA to Ecuador, South America

10,000 Mile Checkup

The amount of...

Tires Changed                                     3
Flat tires                                             0
Lost passports                                    0
Times lost                                           Never found.  No GPS and a broken compass
Holidays in the ditch                           4
Spark plugs                                        5
Robbed by the police                         1
Border crossings                                11 (not including flying back and forth from the states to Colombia)
Explosive poops                                 5
Beers drank                                        1,223 (Mike passed out early one night)
Dogs run over                                     1
Plates of rice and beans                      about 3 a day
Documents forged                               2 (busted  0)
The police did not believe our registrations were real ... refer to number of border crossings
Haircuts at whore houses                    1  (we can exlain that)
Mike and I got into a fight                   not once
Almost died                                        never
Drove after dark with no lights                        never mom
Pushed our bikes through dark tunnels            only once
Ran out of gas                                                1
Left each other                                               2
Gave passports to someone shadey                1
Dropped bikes and laughed                            10
Gotten petrol in our eyes                                 0
Eddie Murphy on TV                                     every time
Welding shop visits                                         35
Put bikes in a back of truck/tailer                   0
Times on a boat/dingy                                     8
Engines out of bikes and apart                        5
Nadine cheated on Mike                                daily   ;)
Broken down in the rain with bad electrics      everytime it rains
Pinstriped another car                                    3
Mike wished a rat hadn't eaten half his seat     everyday since before leaving
A mouse lived in Mike's seat                          2 countries
Oil changes                                                   2
The frame broke                                          10 at least
Speed bumps                                               7,622
Passed by bicycles                                       6 times, that we know of
Tank drove a boat                                        1
The phrase "Living the Dream" got us into trouble                         1 huge time (thanks David)
The armada (big touring bikes) wanted to trade with our bikes      always
Friends visited                                                                             1 is on his way
Time on the road and money spent for the both of us                   still wouldn't buy a new BMW GS
Things accomplished                                                                   0