From Colombia, into Ecuador
For once over the last few weeks, leaving a country to cross into another one, was not all joy to get going. This time it was tied with a touch of sadness.
That country was Colombia.
From the people to the scenery it has been such a rewarding journey.
Going through the high arid mountains from Popayan to Pasto was just incredible…
The last day we went from Pasto and crossed at Ipiales.
What a breeze…
Still traumatized with the last few border crossing, this one felt like a dream…no queue, no heat, no millions of people, no “no sign”, no photocopies needed, no way and return between desk…just smooth…well as smooth as a border crossing can be, let’s not push it.
That was just to confirm that so far, Colombia had been our favorite country.
For about the last 4 days we’ve been riding on high plains and mountains. We have not suffered from the heat anymore. And that is priceless. We may regret it in one month when we won’t remember what heat means….but for now, super happy!
The only down is that, now that we actually would need our motorbike jacket, well we don’t have it anymore.
I’d like to say we were involved in some action and they took our jacket. Would be quite a cool adventure story! But no. I guess now it’s official. We’re pretty much useless at tying thing on the bike…
We had lost once the wet bag in the Death Valley. We lost it again here. This time though we never realized. We came back about 70km and never found it. So on our last super hot day when we already had a 6h trip planned, we just added 140kmo more. Just to make sure it would be a hard day enough.
To be honest, the scenery was so amazing that we quickly forgot about it. Kind of.
Ecuador has been another impressive country for us. We’ve just been there for about 5 days now. But here again the immensity of the landscape is breathe taking. You go from green amazingly cute little mountains to super high plains and arid mountains where the view never stops. It’s so vast. It’s huge.
It’s colorful too. All around you’ll encounter indigenous people. The women are all wearing their wool skirt. May it be blue, red or green. On top a jersey or wrap up/scarf blue, red or green. But skirt, top and stocking must be of opposite colors. Both men and women are wearing their black hat. They look amazing.
You meet them more in the country side, less in urban area.
The countryside is so peaceful…it’s got the peace, serenity and tranquility of the life in high mountains. Three generations looking after the cows, seating on the grass,.
You feel though as well the toughness of their life up here. Their habitation goes from little hut made out of rocks, sheet steel and woods to a proper solid one, but small.
The interesting thing I’ve realized is that, compare to Colombia, nobody plays traditional music. You only hear it around in touristic places or during manifestation religious or traditional. I’m not sure what they were.
But nobody plays it if not.
In Colombia, all you could hear everywhere was traditional music. When most of countries around the world, youth is playing from hiphop to rock going through electronic music in their car. In Colombia they were playing traditional music. It was so nice. That music makes you smile. No way around it. It just makes you happy, somehow.
Ecuador seems a very proud country. I don’t know, somehow I get that from people’s attitude, from the advertising.
The country is definitely trying to create a patriotic movement, to change the country. Every few km you’ll get a big signboard with the followings slogan: “Quando compres, primero Ecuador”, “Quando compres zapatos, primero Ecuador”…or “Ecuador ama la vidad” and “Ecuador Ya lo cambio”!
Something I can’t imagine seeing in France for example…
In terms of food…well…;)
You have to like pork meat, corn and pork meat…and corn…
The main traditional dish I believe is made out of Pork, pop corn, corn salted , potatoes and banana plantain. On a side plate, is served white corn boiled and covered with fat of…pork. J
Often you’ll find those poor pig hanged on the side of the street. Why use advertising board when you can actually use a real pig?
Their other specialty is the Cuy…so let’s make that clear, I’m not adventurous when it comes to food. Not at all. AT ALL.
Even for a case of Bourgogne Auxey Duresses I would not eat it…that says a lot.
Massimo is the same.
We’re not open minded when it comes to that we must admit.
I can’t say they look that inviting neither to be fair. They could at least have a welcoming look no? instead they look like they saw a ghost and just died like that, of heart attack…I’ll let you judge with the photo below.
But they have a lot of bread. A LOT. I might be constipated for life. But it’s good. Our breakfast have consisted since Colombia of café with milk and two or three pastry. Because it’s so difficult to choose just one really.
Well, we still have few days before crossing into Peru. Plenty more things to eat see and discover.
Oh I nearly forget to talk about the Vulcan! How could I? Sophie, really…
Well they have some incredibly high volcano. About one hour from RioBamba you have the Chimborazo peak at 6300m. It is an ice-capped inactive volcano. The last eruption would have been about 1400 years ago. The super interesting fact is that it is reported as being the farthest point on the surface from earth center!
We went quite high but probably just around 3500/4000m. Then you had to walk. But walking for 12km, around 4000m with your motorbike gear on did not sound like a great idea somehow. Bad weather was coming too and we still had a long way to go.
We arrived in Baños that day. Massimo really wanted to try the spring bath. He paid his 3 dollars to get inside the place. He looked around, turn back and ask his 3 dollars back.
I, on the other side, got spoiled by Massi for my birthday with a wellness treatment in a nearby spa. I love massage. God I love massage. Thank you Massi.
I still believe if one day I’m rich I will offer myself a full day spa, including face treatment, body treatment, body massage and why not a pedicure and manicure? If all that was even accompany by champagne I think I could then die satisfied and happy.
So after Baños, we went back to Riobamba to head south. We took the road that was advised not to take. Obviously. But local were saying it’s not too dangerous. So that sounded good enough for us.
It was a great ride. We went at the bottom of the active Tungurahua volcano. As of December 2015 is in constant eruption and highly monitored. The road is covered with ashes. That made the journey just incredible. Come to a point where the ashes are just too much and it creates that super thin sand of ashes that made is really difficult for cars. And motorbike. A car got stuck as we arrived on the spot. Mass went down slowly keeping one foot on the ground, trying to only break with the rear break. Until he had to put two feet to stabilize himself ….meaning breaking with the front one and slowly falling down on the side. Straight away people helped put the bike up straight and Mass went down the hill with no more problems. But within that time frame, a traffic jam of 5 cars had built up. Everybody evaluating their options and chance of getting up that hill.
The whole ride was in a constant cloud of dust and ashes flying around, blown by the wind. Quite a mystical ride.
And that’s with my head full of those memories that I will try to get some sleep.