A short day planned today driving to Quito I get there about 3pm ish and I realise that I have just crossed the equator another milestone where you are supposed to stop and take mandatory picture of you on either side of the equator but as I never saw any signs or anything to remind me of this so that was another photo opportunity missed. I did however stop at a great little market a say little allegedly it one of the biggest in South America in Otavalo. As I drove into town I saw a sign saying Mercado so I followed that and find myself at a local fruit and veg place with a couple of stalls. So if this the biggest market in South America than I have been diddled. I asked a local and he says the market I am looking for is in the center of town so quick detour and I park the bike and I spend a couple of hours wandering round this nice little town who’s majority of streets have been taken over by market stalls selling everything conceivable. I Had some breakfast in a local restaurant next to the market where a strange old man kept trying to clear away stuff from my table even though it was quite clear I had not yet finished it This must be his way of turning tables quickly.
oi move your blocking my view!
Next stop Quito (It should have been the Equator :-() to a hostel address Andrea had given me the Casa Bambu. GPS is useless so I spent hours looking for it with a small map from my lonely planet guidebook and Quito is huge so it took me for ages I got quite close on many occasion but then got lost again. I finally I find the place and its on a very steep hill that I dare not park my bike on on so stop at the top and walk down to inquire about a room. It is a really cool place its like a maize once you are in I kept getting lost and they had a garage for the bike and a great roof garden with great views over Quito. So I settle in and the first thing I did was try and figure out how to get my GPS working so went onto http://garmin.openstreetmap.nl and downloaded a map of Ecuador which was 10 times better than the one I have. I spent the rest of the afternoon experimenting with http://garmin.openstreetmap.nl and I finally had the whole of South America on my GPS so I may now have a vague idea where I am going from now on. It was about 6pm when I had finished so I walked to a supermarket a Dutch girl had told me about 20 minutes there and 20 minutes back and I brought a microwave lasagne and walked back bit out of breath as the hill as mentioned earlier was very steep and Quito is at 2800 meters. When I got back to the Hostel I realised that they had no microwave so I had to figure out how to cook me dinner so thats 50 minutes a Bain Marie (cooking term :-)) it was disgusting.
views from the roof terrace
I spent the rest of the evening playing catch up with this blog which is all I ever seem to do these days and then beddy byes in a large room with 5 big single beds me and two Chinese girls oh err missis.
Quito Quite Stunning!
I had decided yesterday that I was going to spend another day in Quito as I had seen nothing yesterday and I heard that every other Sunday the historical center has a car ban and the roads are blocked and only cyclist and pedestrians are allowed on the streets.
Opening statement I like Quito I really do a great place and a great day.
Could it be that the sun was shining but it is only a pleasant 22 degrees, could it be that my arse was finally back under my control, could it be no cars, could it it be that I was no longer a hot and sweaty mess, could be many things but I had a brilliant day.
Started with a leisurely breakfast at the hostel on the roof terrace overlooking Quito soaking up the sun not to hot 🙂
Then walked for miles climbed loads of hills and stairs saw churches, squares and beautiful vista’s and took loads of photographs, saw load of local pipe bands,
Oh I do like twirly dresses 🙂
I crawled all over the Cathedral up and into all of the towers and across the roof very scary as the stairs are steep and dodgy this would be a total no no in health and safety conscience Europe but here it was like being in an adventure park and great views 360 degrees in every direction.
Climbing all over the Cathedral
At one point I saw a sign saying ‘’Caution Tourists Robbery Zone Do not walk this street Danger” mmm a bit late as I am already here taking a picture! All on me own some luckily no one else around so I headed back to the crowds.
At the end of day it tried to rain and was just about to explore the new town as I had covered the majority of the old town when I saw a McDonalds sign so that was dinner sorted. Back to the Hostel and again working on this! I do hope the effort put into this blog is appreciated as it is all I seem to do.
Guess I am in the Amazon!
I had sort of arranged to meet Alex and Andrea, Joop and Fred for Christmas and the place was to be Cuenca. The problem was I had forgotten what day it was and thought I had an extra day to get there but nope it was going to be a one-day dash this should be doable especially with my navigations skills! I got out of Quito no problems thanks to my updated GPS maps that actually seem to work which was very strange for me as it has been a while since I had a clue to where I was 🙂
Nice run and the plan was to have a late breakfast early lunch in Riobamba as it is supposed to be a nice place. I did not like Riobamba that much so I drove straight through it and hit recalculate button on the GPS and I followed the instructions out of town through some little villages nice roads but I am not sure I am going in the right direction but I had new found faith in my GPS and surely it would not let me down and the road was great so I kept on going. Then it did it usual trick of turn left in 100 meters but there was no left turn! So kept going then it started telling me to do a U turn that I eventually I did and went back to the spot where the left turn was supposed to be. Yes there it was hidden behind the bushes was a dirt track leading into the mountains. Bugger if I am going down there check my Garmin settings to see if dirt track had been disabled and they had so Mr Garmin think this is a road. So I did what I always do in this situation I am not going to go back to Riobamba as I had done 50km already and so I just kept on going on this road that was actually quite nice.
The signs where saying that this road was going to Macas and on my GPS it sort of looked like it was going in the right direction but I had forgotten that there are huge mountain ranges here with very few joining roads but onwards and forwards and at this point I had settled on the fact that I was no longer going to Cuenca but to Macas so lets have a look in the book and see where it is and if there is anywhere to stay.
Well it turns out its in the Amazon! So after driving through the Sangay National Park on a beautiful road cold and wet but very enjoyable it got down to 11 degrees at one stage so I had changed my gloves and put on a jumper for the first time since I am guessing Canada and there where a lot more trees and every so often huge lookout towers with great views when the clouds cleared. This is when I realised I was heading into the Amazon as there where huge signs saying Amazon. Well I was certainly was not planning on coming this way but its rather nice and Macas was going to my new destination for the night. About 25km out of Macas the perfect tarmac turned into a dirt track so it was off-road for the last hour or so and it started getting hot again as I descended into the Amazon cursing my GPS as I bounced down the mountain. I finally hit tarmac and Macas and I started looking for a Hotel the first one nice enough but no WI-FI next one had a swimming pool that I was never going to use but was reasonable enough so I settled in there and went for a wander now it is back up to 30 plus degrees so I had temperature variations of more than 20 degrees and my poor body has not got a clue what is going on 🙂
view from Macas
This evening entertainment is a pizza and watching the locals play volleyball I say volleyball but the net looks a lot higher and there are 3 on each team however its great to watch.
Back to the Hotel and a marathon update of this blog and I also found out that Fred and Joop did not make it to Cuenca because of bike trouble but Alex and Andrea had so plan to join them for Xmas. Yes it Christmas eve but it certainly does not feel like it.
Is it Xmas certainly does not feel like it!