At the place of the Casta Restaurant and a beautiful view on the white summit of Chimborazo I will let you know what happened during my first days in Ecuador besides the experience of hiking Cotopaxi.
After we visited the beautiful church in Las Lajas, we had to cross the border to Ecuador. We were still in a group of 4, Tobias, David and Joanne and me. The last view kilometres in Colombia offered us another breattaking landscape. The border-crossing itself was really easy going and with some loud music playing outside the immigration building, it felt like a celebration.
The first town in Equador was Tulcán, not the most beautiful place, but still worth a visit due to the cemetery. First of all, all cemeteries in Latin America I’ve seen so far are totally different from the ones we have in Germany. They show a more friendly face and white is the dominant colour. Heaps of fresh flowers express, that the church is a big topic for the latin people. The cemetery in Tulcán is outstanding, because the gardeners change the hedges into art.
The first night in Ecuador we stayed in a rather expensive hotel in San Gabriel. No hostel was available in the village and due to my birthday Internet connection was demanded. The next day we cycled up and down to the lake of Ibarra. A long part of the street to Ibarra was renewed and closed for transit cars, so we four bikers had it more or less on our own. Most of that part was already done and paved, but downhill we bombed down the gravel road through the road wo works. After we arrived the river, which most of the time indicates the turning point, we had do climb up some hundred meters to arrive at the beautiful lagune, close to Ibarra, where two Germans opened the Finca Sommerwind, a campsite for caravans and tents as well as a german café, which opens during the weekends. Hans and Patricia welcomed us and due to some days with a lot of climbing, we decided to stay one more night at their place. We even got baked a good bread by Patricia, which we enjoyed as well as a barbecue and cooking pasta.
On the road again we passed Otavalo and we’re getting closer to the Equador. And finally behind a corner we crossed the line and entered the southern half of the earth. Two monuments line the streets. One earth – shaped stone, which was built first and is not exactly on the right position, and a sundial, where the non-profit organization Quitsato gave us a very interesting introduction about the place, their work and the alignment of the maps of the world, which they consider to align to the east instead of North, which became common.
The last few kilometers to the highest capital on earth on about 2800 meters above the sea level, Quito, was our next destination. With KALARI chocolate in my mouth and music in my ear, I climbed the last ascent to the big urban area. Arrived David and I looked for the Cotopaxi Tour. Due to the weather forecast we decided to shift the tour by one day, which was the right decision. So the next day was free to discover the old part of Quito, including the highest church in South America, the Basilica de sagrado voto.
After the amazing tour to the Cotopaxi, David and Joanne went to Germany for the wedding of David’s Sister. They took some of my stuff to Germany to reduce the weight of my bike – another blog entry about the topic of redundant equipment will follow.
Tobias and I went down further south, riding on the so called street of the volcanos. Two times we camped in gardens of locals, visited the market in Pujilí before we arrived Ambato. In the park we dried our tents before we took part in a tour through the museum of Juan Montalvo, who wrote the national anthem of Ecuador and became one of the most important writers of the country. His thoughts had and still have a great impact of the development of Ecuador. His corpse is kept in a big hall next to the museum.
We left our bikes in the inner yard of the restaurant next to the museum, where we met Leo, the owner of the Casa de Ciclistas by accident. He just dropped his daughter at that place and suddenly introduced to us. A real big coincidence! He gave us the direction to his house, where we met again. Leo, who started to offer his place to ciclists some years ago. In 2011 he started a guest book, which was very in testing to have a look at. On top he told us some stories about other cyclists, who stayed at his place. He owns a bike shop, in which we set up our sleeping accomondation. On our departure he gave us a medal as a present, I eternalized in his guest book and schwup, back on the road.
The path over Píllaro to Patate was just wonderful, small little villages, lots of agriculture areas and a nice valley down to Patate, from where it is possible to see the before mentioned two volcanos. Currently we are still waiting for the rain to stop, but it is a nice place with partly annoying music, we listen to since we had breakfast.
Today we will head to Baños and then down into the amazonian area next to Puyo.