Ecuador


18. December 2016.
Crossing the border between Colombia and Ecuador in the Amazon lowlands between La Hormiga and Lago Agrio is relatively easy. Roads in Ecuador are similarly neat and tidy as in Colombia, but soon your nightmares about speed breakers turn out to be true: in Ecuador they mastered this art to perfection, such an obstacle is placed not only in every village but before and after a driveway to every house.

Lamas in Ecuador.
Ecuador proved to be significantly more expensive than Colombia, prices are about 30% higher. But curiously enough, the villages appear much poorer. How can we interpret these two facts: the country is poorer, but the price of life is higher? If we turn to the answer to our economists, we will certainly get interesting and varied interpretations; probably their advice will not be free. I interpret it by reverse causal - consequence connection. The usual connection: a poor country - low cost of living must be reversed: higher cost of living - less funding for life – poorer the country. It is true however that Ecuador introduced the US dollar as official currency - and thereby put itself in the mercy of Uncle Sam.

Even on the human side I have noticed a few differences between the two countries. While Colombians seemed quite self-sufficient and indifferent, Ecuadorians were showing some signs of neurosis. Ecuador is indeed smaller than its neighbors, but being small is relative; compared to some European countries Ecuador is a true giant. While Colombians asked just polite questions, and even that only occasionally to fill in the embarrassing silence, Ecuadorians seemed seriously interested about how I considered their country. That's a typical question of citizens who are frustrated with smallness or insignificance and who need a foreign tourist to pat them on the shoulder and reassure them with encouraging words, such as "muy, muy bonito". What should I have said? Their dilapidated wooden shacks were worse than those in Colombia, about that I could not lie. However, a difference between "nice" and "ugly" is relative, and so I took the liberty of artistic freedom and forthcoming. It cost me nothing, made them smile and the relief was physically felt in the air.

Rainy day while climbing to Papallacta.
Cycling in the rain. Something worse is conceivable only in the ninth circle of hell. Until the penultimate day I however had much luck. Tropical downpours usually occurred at night. Twice I was caught riding in rain, yet this happened late in the day and the worst hit was for the hotel registration books, on which drops were dripping from my nose while I was filling in various data. But the day of the climb from Beaza to Papallacta was different. Rain began early in the morning and after four hours it still did not improve. For some time I hoped and waited, but patience is not my virtue, so I just reconciled with the situation and at 10:30 I started the climb in the rain. It rained more or less all the time to Papallacta, which is at an altitude of 3150 m, and I was soaking wet and shivering, bordering on hypothermia. If I only remember that the day before I cycled at 39 degrees (C)! In Papallacta I got a room with a hot shower and even with the radiator to dry wet clothes. Thanks God for civilization! The second part of the ascent to the Antisana pass, the highest point of the trip at 4035 m, was luckily in dry, albeit cloudy weather. The road over the pass is incredibly good, like an amazing insert from a parallel universe there was even a double cycle track (made for whom?). I then descended to Quito for 1400 m, mainly on six-lane highways. A cycling colleague helped me to the center of the capital city of Ecuador and inspired me ("!Vamos, vamos!") to make the last few kilometers of the trip in a slightly more intense rhythm.


Toward the 4035 m Antisana pass.

And downhill from the pass.

Quito. My final destination.

Old Quito.

The next day was Sunday. Arriving at my final destination and because of the fact that it was Sunday, I had little desire for further cycling, but when I looked at a multitude of riders on a Sunday in Quito, which like in Bogotá occupied the city's main artery, Avenida Rio Amazonas, that encouraged me to join them and in a tranquil, silent ride I slowly arrived 30 km outside the city to the point "Mitad del Mundo", a place where the line of equator is passing. This - and the journey back to Quito – ultimately ended this pleasant South American adventure, without pretensions to announce any particularly paramount final message.


The line of equator in Mitad del mundo.

8 comments:

  1. Thank you very much for sharing,Igor,
    Where can we see km traveled,time it took,
    Can you share the cost of this journey with us,please?

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  2. I started to travel with a road bike also,instead of my old heavy weight,only 2 flats on 1500 km,I can never go back,
    Don't you think a cyclocross bike might be the ideal thing,for lite weight travelling?
    Hendrik van der Merwe

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  3. It took 12 days and 1260 km. I spent about 20 euros per day. Cyclocross bikes woud be good if they had low enough gearing.

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    1. Thanks,did you camp,or was this a hotel only trip,

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  4. No camping, always in hotels.

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  5. A fascinating read this journey of yours. Thank you very much for sharing.

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  6. How do you transport your bike?

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