Ecuador, from what I can tell from my limited experience of South America is one of the most “European” (American, if you will) countries of the continent. When we arrived from Colombia we were greeting with a free map and a pamphlet informing us that all public hospitals are free, should we decide to fucking wreck ourselves on their beautifully paved roads (we didn’t take advantage of this offer).
Crossing over from Colombia was relatively painless, like getting drunk and running through the streets of Cali, falling over yourself in front of a packed bar, something I did in Cali that Thomas thankfully forgot to mention on his last blog post.
On the border we would meet a pair of Colombian brothers, going the other way around (like everyone else, except for us). They were riding bikes no more powerful than a 150cc, showing once again that you can do what we are doing on anything you can get your hands on. They gave us some sound advice of the road to come, but nothing could prepare us for the sheer beauty of Ecuador.
Pleasantly surprised with our night at the border town of San Gabriel at a “hospidaje” where for 3$ we had a bed (yes ONE bed) at a clean “hotel-of-sorts” with WiFi, we moved on to a cool lake spot of which we have both forgotten the name (but certainly not the view, or the drive.
Thomas being a derp.
At this point, having not yet decided whether we were going to party in Ecuador or not, we were greeted by a man, as we usually are, in the streets of San Gabriel wondering where we are going.
“Are you guys going to Montanita?” He asked
“Not sure yet, maybe…is it good” We responded
I won’t go in to too much details as to what he said Montanita was like, but needless to say, we were sold. Our previous plan of gunning it though Ecuador was out the window, like a parking ticket for our Canadian bikes registered to our hostel in Vancouver.
New Mission Unlocked: Montanita
But first, we had some riding to do. Not just any riding, Ecuadorian riding. It is difficult to understate how amazing the roads are here for motorcycles. It was a saying before that “There are no straight roads in Guatemala” but for Ecuador, this takes on a whole new meaning. Not only are the roads curvy AND well paved (sorry Guatemala) but the entire landscape is mountainous, and you get to cross the equator, something you don’t do every day.
The restaurant and the speed bump that separates the Northern and Southern hemispheres.
Sadly, we nearly missed the damn thing, because for some reason the Ecuadorian government for whatever reason decided to completely underplay the entire reason their country was named and make some shithouse speed bump and a lame stone carving the line which links two worlds.
We were expecting fireworks or something, all we got was this stupid rock.
After stopping of at Otivalo and checking out the crafts market, we had stocked up on some winter gear (winter IS coming) and heading south, towards Quito. We stopped somewhere north of there, as it started to get dark and looked around for a hotel.
We were disgusted at the prices, most places wanting 10$ per person so we went on the search for something else. Luckily a man suggested we camp at a local sporting field. We were more than happy to take up the offer.
The only obstacle was getting our bikes on to the field, which required driving up a series of steps, which was accomplished with the help of Ecuadorian know-how. A local man, climbed on to the roof of his house and found some planks of wood, and with some difficulty, we hauled our 350kg bikes up the steps and in to safety.
There were a bunch of school kids there, who were quite interested as to what we were doing driving our bikes on to their football pitch, but with their approval, we ended up staying the night, spending a large part talking to David the manager of the pitch.
We were room mates with a horse, who was roaming the field and eating grass and spend a large part of the night joking (and legitimately concerned) that we would end up trampled to death by said horse. Luckily, nothing of the sort took place.
Getting back down the steps proved difficult as well. As you can see from the pics below.
Once this was done however, we were back on the open road.
We didn’t go to Quito. We opted to drive around it on a scenic road which would bypass most of the city (which is HUGE). Here we would see more windy roads, more mountains, and things like a bus carrying some sheep unsecured on the roof.
The road here was epic, and unfortunately, we were enjoying ourselves too much to stop for too many pictures. One thing I will remember from Ecuador especially is the intense change in temperature, something you can only truly experience (in my opinion) on a motorcycle, or maybe driving a segway. The roads climb and fall in a whirl of curves and straights, and before you know it you go from mountainous peaks to tropical valleys.
The pic so nice we did it twice.
These sorts of changes you barely see coming, and before you know it you have to stop once again to remove (or put on) another layer of clothing to adapt yourself to the climate. This is not annoying in the slightest, but a true testament to the landscapes of Ecuador.
Getting close to our goal of Montanita, we decided to go and get stranded on the beach, having not seen the coast since Palomino in Colombia. We drove directly on the beach and got bogged down, needing both of us to get each of the bikes out of the sand as confused onlookers wondered what we were thinking driving on deep sand in the first place. Oh well, jokes.
The coastal road was awesome, we drove around fast curves feeling the road and the fresh sea breeze in our lungs. We arrived in Montanita early enough to find (the best) hostel with one thing on our mind…partying.
The calm before the storm
Here we would get in early on the pre-drinks with the “tequila” we had bought in Cali (and surprisingly managed not to drink previously) for only 8,000 Colombian pesos, around 3 dollars for a litre. It is probably best that I do not go in to too much detail as to what happened that night, but suffice to say that in the morning there was no tequila left, we went to a night club, played beer pong, and everyone lost everyone. Gold members may enquire on facebook.
At this point for whatever reason, Thomas and I are staying at this hostel without actually staying in a bed, for only 4$. Works fine by us. I fell asleep in the couch, and I found Thomas asleep on a different couch the following morning (or, ahem…afternoon).
Sebastian, the owner of the hostel, was always down to party.
We woke up, sorted ourselves out, and made plans for the following night. I had heard on Resident Advisor that Andre Crom of OFF Recordings was doing a set at Lost Beach. Of course we had to go. It seemed like an appropriate time to wear a Hawaiian shirt (again).
The guy in this picture bought me a beer for dancing the hardest.
At this point it seems like in the interest of full disclosure that I should mention that I had already lost the keys to my motorcycle after parting in Medellin at a club called Calle Nueva. I had made spares, but in under two weeks I had managed to lose them again in the previous night of partying in Montanita. For the price of two beers, I had my panniers sawed open by a dude with a buzz saw and I was (after buying some new locks) back in business. As the great philosopher Dan Hoelscher once said:
Getting drunk and losing your keys twice in a row…this is what we do…
All this however would never put me off the allure of seeing a big Berlin DJ playing in Ecuador. For this night, I must say, I was “that guy”. Barely talking to anyone, high fives from everyone.
For lack of a better word, the hostel we stayed at “La Roulette House” is amazing. Huge love and respect for all of those who partied with, and even with the legend who took a dick-pick with our camera when we left it unattended in the common room.
We were even at one point attacked by a band of cows, who had escaped from their owners and managed to get in to our hostel, they roamed the grounds for a while before getting wrangled again by their owner.
The cow invasion got the full attention of the hostel.
Unfortunately due to time and money constraints it came time to leave the magical place on Montanita. As previously stated, with unlimited funds we could both easily spend years doing this trip but the time had come to start to make our way to Peru.
We made our way along the coast, driving more super-nice roads before coming to a stop eventually in a place I don’t quite remember the name of (once again). It was a natural reserve (probably still is) and the owner allowed us to camp there for free. Aware of the mosquito problem on the premises he kindly let us sleep in the conference room of the establishment. This soon became the temporary Ecuadorian conference room of livedeleven.com
We made a bed made of chairs and slept like babies.
There were so many mosquitoes precautions had to be made. Like wearing full riding gear and smoking a cigarette through ones helmet.
It was time to get down to business though, after doing some last minute packing while an actual conference was waiting to start outside, we cleaned up our mess and got going.
We would climb once again from this warm area up higher and higher, seeing more and more beauty of Ecuador. With altitude, we began to notice some problems with our bikes, mostly being sluggish in the higher gears. We eventually fixed this problem by simply revving the bike more. That fixed it more or less. More power, more speed.
Llamas doing their thing, being llamas.
We stopped a fair bit to take in the scenery.
Adding to the strange list of places we’ve stayed, we managed to organize a floor sleeping operation at a hotel, which strangely had neither guests nor free beds. We made toasties on the frying pan and lived de leven, as per usual.
After getting rained on hard, we took anything we could get.
It rained so much, we duct taped our riding boots to keep them dry (this did not work)
No expense spared.
We would eventually arrive towards Peru, from which I am currently writing this post. The border crossing should have been an easy affair except being morons we forgot to bring any money and had to drive back in to Ecuador to find an ATM (which was not as easy as you’d think) eventually though, we got through.
So here we are now. In Peru and in the midst of a great drive that has spanned from Montanita to our current position in Huaraz, Peru. The ride is far from over though, with plans to make it to Cusco in about a week before heading towards Bolivia and the Salt Flats. We’ve just crossed the 25,000 kilometer mark, with many more yet to come. Stay tuned for a Peruvian blog post from Thomas.