On Friday 8th of July I arrived in the final country of my trip – Ecuador.
While the border control in Peru was quick (I had to promise the immigration officer to bring next time a Bayern München jersey), on the other side of the bridge the Ecuadorian immigration office was empty, no one could tell me when the guy with the entry stamp is coming back – he arrived 3h later. I’m on vacation, so time doesn’t matter.
What matters was the high percentage that welcomed me in Ecuador.
Until now in the Andes the climbs had more the percentage of a good Bavarian beer, but right after the border 3 climbs with an average more in the area of a strong wine waited for me. It’s only 25km to the town of Zumba but these climbs hit me really hard. I would like to stay with the image of alcohol, the red wine gets faster in your head if you don’t have a proper base. The same here, the high percentage of the climbs make you more tired if you have to go up & down on a slippery gravel road.
As reward for the effort I had spectacular views on the mountains around.
On the 2nd day in Ecuador the rain started (and didn’t really stop until now), the high percentage from the day before remained and the road got more and more slippery. This day it was definitely still fun to cycle through the mud and look like a pig in the end of the day.
As the rain continued over the night, I was really not sure if it’s a good idea to go on, but I really wanted to get to Vilcambamba, the place were the asphalt starts. Right in the beginning of the day I climbed a pass (in strong rain & dense fog), it seemed never-ending. This was one of the days where I asked myself what the hell am I doing here?.
From Vilcabamba I enjoyed the luxury of a paved road and once again climbed over 2 passes with together more than 40km. As soon as the sky cleared up a little bit I had again great views down into the valleys out of which I climbed into the next. Wet & dirty I arrived in the little village of Santiago, practically a central plaza with 4 houses and church around it. I didn’t hesitate to ask the “padre” if the church has a room for me for the night. Indeed he gave me room and invited me for dinner and breakfast the next morning.
I didn’t expect much more than a coffee the next morning, that’s why I had my usual big breakfast (porridge with yoghurt). But in the padre’s house the housekeeper has prepared a huge meal with chicken and rice. Overeaten, I started the day with another climb.
Somehow this day my legs weren’t that good and I struggled getting 75km and 2 passes done. Pretty exhausted I arrived in the little town of Ona. Although there would have been a hospedaje, I decided to first ask at the fire-fighters if they have a room. Of course this station was very small, but it was still no problem and I could stay at the bomberos. To my surprise there was even fast WiFi and later I watched with the bomberos the Ecuador match against Brasil. Although I insisted that I could sleep on my inflatable mattress, they gave me the bed and the guy on duty that night slept on the floor in the office…incredible!
Next destination was Cuenca, 100km and a serious pass up to more than 3.300m followed by some up and down on the “altiplano” away, before a 30km downhill would bring me into Cuenca. The climb itself went pretty good, but the altiplano didn’t want to end. The downhill was one of the fastest so far, on good roads I made easily 70km/h until I got into a very strong rain for the last hour.
In Cuenca I found a very nice hostal, for the first time since month I’m in a real backpacker hostal where it’s easy to get in contact with other travellers.
The Countdown is starting, less than 500km to Quito – my final destination!