30th October 2015

30 October – 6 November : Ecuador in 6 days… short but beautiful…

So on Friday I drive – after having a delicious breakfast again - the 180km to La Hormiga. The road leads me through hilly, still rampant vegetation to the border; the road most of the time just great:  1/3 paved, 1/3 rough gravel and 1/3 "I used to be paved"!
The border crossing again on my own but couldn’t been easier: the officials send me – after I asked him where the aduana and the immigration is - directly over the bridge to Ecuador: after 3km I found actually both (immigration, customs) from both countries in the same building! That makes it really easy. That easy that I even have time to chat with a Colombian couple for almost an hour. 
Since I had started in the morning later than planned, I drive just outside of Lago Agrio to the next small city.Have dinner at a local restaurant and buy as usual on the first day the new chip for my mobile phone.
The next day I start earlier as I will drive about 300km to Puyo through the mountains. A magnificent road, curvy, virtually no traffic - and as usual if there is traffic in front of me….not for a long time ;-)
The landscape is changing not really, "green" is still the predominant color. The most interesting during that day: a dam for hydroelectric plant under construction. And it will not be the only time that Ecuador’s changes to a modern state shows in alternative energy plants.
In PuyoI’m expected by Renato who brings me from the city centre directly to his parents place.3 of his colleagues are also there, everybody is having a early dinner. I’m again heartily greeted from everybody, introduced to the family and have to join the meal immediately ;-) Salad (cabbage and tomatoes), grilled meat and some cereals which I could not define precisely. But anyway, it tasted good. Right afterwards we all returned to our bikes and did necessary maintenance. I cleaned the air filter and the other mounted to the already auxiliary head lamps even more auxiliary lights. It's funny: either they drive around in the dark without light or then with light with that much light that it would be enough to illuminate half a football stadium. In the evening a walk with Renato's parents through the City –answering many questions about Switzerland.The next morning right after putting the airfilter back we make a sightseeing tour again – but this time on the bikes. The little daughter drives with me on the back and enjoys obviously that privilege.
After about an hour driving around they lead me to their grandmother who is preparing lunch for the whole huge family: a typical lunch with fresh caught fish from the charcoal grill, but instead a metal grate, a grate consisting of wooden rods of a certain wood, which gives the fish a special taste. Together with Yuca (tastes like steamed potatoes) and the obligatory salad. Well, I do not dare to say no and eat the fish (what I usually not do)... ..and hey, it tastes really delicious !!
As there a storm seems to arrive I leave them right after lunch and drive the short 60km to Baños. It takes me much longer than expected because all the Ecuadorians have a long weekend and are on the road. In Baños then quite a shock for me. I've known that Baños is known and has a lot to offer for tourists - all imaginable adventure sports like bungee jumping, canyoning, canopying, river rafting, etc. - but there were not a few tourists, the whole place was crammed. If I had not had booked in advance 2 nights, I would have driven on straight away. However, I met three other tourists in the hostel and spontaneously went with them to the spa; along with about 1000 other tourists. I've really never seen that before: the pool with the hot water was packed with people. What initially seemed a bit strange, was then quite funny. The Ecuadorians remain mostly only briefly in the water before it’s getting too hot for them - you could tell that most of them simply are not accustomed to hot water.
On November 2, I was awakened by incredibly beautiful, impressive music from the nearby cemetery. I took the chance and I walked to the cemetery. "eldia de losmuertos" is an important day in Ecuador and the families meet at the tombs and remain there sometimes for hours - appropriately stocked with food and drinks. It was a totally nice atmosphere in the cemetery, the touching music and a great view over the valley of Baños. Otherwise a lazy day - somehow this huge crowd has taken any energy to do some of the adventures. The tour of the volcano Tungurahua closed anyway as the volcano is quite active recently and it would accordingly be too dangerous to get close to it as an outbreak is always possible. So I enjoyed at the hostel a great massage of back and shoulders - additionally I got a facial mask for free - although it would have - of course - NOT  been really necessary.

The next day early on the road again; not only because I had planned quite a tour that day but also before all the Ecuadorians would head back home. Happy the two of us (my Suzy Blue and me)drove curve for curve higher up; when we actually cracked the 4000MüM mark, I could not prevent a big grin. Never been that high up with a motorbike. Amazing about this region was that in contrary to Europe there is still quite a prospering vegetation, the locals harvest even maiz, potatoes, onions…..

At the crater lake of the dormant volcano "Quilotoa" I decide spontaneously to test my fitness level and walk the 350 meters of altitude down and up again - in contrast to many tourists which let themselves been carried up by mules. Of course I feel a little more breathless while walking up – and that really might be the uncommon altitude of 3800m but otherwise I feel no 'altitude symptoms ";-)

The short hike was definitely worth the effort –anyway because I wanted to find out whether I shall book for a trekking up to Machu Picchu (not the famous Inka-Trail; that one is already sold out for a long time). Concerning the altitude I think I should not have any problems; but I didn’t make up my mind yet as the trekking is quite expensive and it is rainy season now in the area.
In the afternoon I drive as afar as Riobamba – jus a stopover – and the next day on to Cuenca. I arrive quite in time and as Pipe (my local host-biker) has to work until five I park my bike and walk through the nice old town of Cuenca.
While we wait at the a gas station for his colleague an Ecuadorian biker with a BMW HP1200 sees my bike and starts talking with us. He is curious about my travel, the bike and then also how it comes that I can sleep at Pipe’s hostal.So once he finds out how it “works” he invites us to have dinner and wants to know more about Pipe and his hostel. In the end he not only invites us for dinner but also I willing to help Pipe with the renovation of the hostel.The will meet the next day and Gonzalo will pay the costs for the material Pipe needs. So for once I can sort of give something back to my host. Again I’m astonished how uncomplicated people deal with each other. So after the dinner we drive to Pipe’s little hostel, where up to 6 people can sleep…..and as always for free !!In the hostel I meet an Argentinian motorcycle couple, 2 cyclists (from Brazil and Colombia). A funny mix of people which all have many anecdotes and pictures of "their" journey to share.
And so I already come to the end of my Ecuador visit. I drive the next day to the border village Maricara and stay there overnight. Again the road from Cuenca to Maricara was just gorgeous and curvy – meanwhile I hardly dare to write that any longer!
In Maricara I filled the tank as the fuel is much more expensive in Peru. Leaving Ecuador was almost as easy as entering it. I could help the aduana officer in finding Switzerland on the long list of countries (unfortunately for him written in English and not in Spanish). And would there not have been a Canadian biker who had lost all his papers and discussed about his problem with the officer, I guess I would have passed the border within half an hour. Well, it took 1.5 hours – which is in comparison to many other countries on my trip – still quite fast.
I know that I missed a lot of beautiful places in Ecuador. But I’m getting tired of the “green” scenery. Of course the volcanoes have impressed me very much (even the weather was unfortunately not good enough to see them in sunshine) but otherwise the scenery has many similarities with the agricultural hill areas in Switzerland - just that everything here somewhere between 2000 and 3500MüM and huge!! Of course this is a beautiful landscape but to see such a scenery I wouldn’t need to travel to the other side of the Globus J - that’s something I can enjoy well enough back home ;-)

I’m happy to reach Peru right now and area really wondering whether my “personal leader “Colombia will be able to keep the number 1 on my favourite -list;-)...

PS: there are some pictures missing now....I will "deliver" them as soon as I have a little bit faster WiFi again ;-)