Monday, July 1, 2013

Pasto Colombia - Tulcan Ecuador - Quitos -

June 28th, 29th
Well it's been a crazy few days.  In a nut shell.  I left Pasto for Ipiales 90km away.  The Quichua indians were getting ready to block the road in a protest when I passed by, so I got lucky, but snapped a photo as I went by.   When I got to Ipiales, Colombia I saw them roasting cuy, or guinea pig on the side of the road and for 4$ I had to try it.  Not too bad, fire roasted.  Halfway through the meal a nice Honda 1000 motorcycle pulled up.  It was a couple from Venezuela Yuselis and Carlos.  The coolest couple in the world!  They didn't speak english, but they were really helpful at helping me understand what they were saying and we talked for an hour.  It was awesome.  So we exchanged info and hopefully we can meet up again someday.  Then I went to Las Lajas Cathedral...simply amazing..see photos.  Then on to the frontera (border). I got stamped out of Colombia in five minutes, joked with the money changers cause I had no colombian pesos to sell and Ecuador uses the dollar so I didn't need to buy, but I had some change and gave the it to the guy who watched my bike.  Then over to the Ecuador side...headache.  I got stamped in...well he stamped my passport as exiting, but he was nice enough to chase me down outside the building and call me back in to fix his mistake...I was entering ecuador, so he fixed that... Immigration, check...then on to the aduana for the motorcycle.  Computers extreeemely slow for the insurance and for processing in vehicles.  5 hours later I was out of there and without insurance.  The good and the bike were free, no charge.  So I went 5km to spend the night in Tulcan where I could get insurance the next day for $5 for 30 days.  Found a great hotel 7$, with parking aldentro(inside) and combo shishkabob dinner for $1.25.  It was a pretty cold place, 35 to 40ish. Sat down with the nicest family three sisters, dad and his grandson in Tulcan for an hour or more and had one of their clean you out liquados, they crowded around me as I drank my liquado and told stories, showed photos, let them play with the ipad and answered their questions. Pretty cool experience.  These people are so innocent and family oriented, you can see the kindness in their eyes.  This part of my journey is what makes it all worth while, learning what healthy relationships look like around the world.  Anyway, I think I tell my story 5 times a day or more...need to polish it up a bit I think.  Only downside was I had no hot water in the hotel, ouch.  So I heated a pot of water on my electric burner and left the burner burning all night for heat.  Best 9$ I ever spent.

June 29th, 2013
Miserable day out...cold, damp, and began to rain on me.  But I got the insurance really early.  Took 45 minutes and $5, 4 blocks from the hotel.  Stopped for gas in Tulcan.  They could only sell me $3.00 worth of gas to a foreign vehicle in this province, due to problems with Colombian illegal imports???  Which gas was only 2$ a gallon and I only needed a dollars worth.  So no problem.  Guy was rude, poured gas all over my bike then wouldn't wipe it off and told me they do things differently in Ecuador.  There were armed guards all around the gas station, so I tried not to make a scene though I was furious.  Told him he needed help.  Then he shewed me away.   I think people see my as a bad guy on the motorcycle....I have been called  everything from Renegado and Desperado to Bandito, and Vaquero.   Oh well can't change what other people think about me. So I Left out and rode 270km to the south side of Quito...great roads.  Stopped for a pic and a Kid popped out of nowhere while I was taking a photo, told him my story.  He wanted a photo..they all do, gave him $5.00  Made it to the south side of Quito around 3pm.  Quito is the capital of Ecuador, and the second largest city to Guayaquil it is a city 25 miles long a population of 3 million people.  Quito lies between two mountain ranges and its altitude is 9,200 feet second highest capital city in the world. It may take you a couple of days to get accustomed to the altitude here..and crime is on the rise here, due to a slump in the economy.  But I found a hotel for $13 a night with 1.80$ fried chicken, fries, salad, soup and drink. First time I've eaten chicken foot soup.   Bought groceries, went to hotel and went to bed.  Karaoke across the street kept me up on and off all night til the police showed up, I woke up and witnessed it.  He started by drawing not his gun but his camera and snapped photos of everyone and everything.  It was funny to watch everyone run away, you would have thought he had his gun drawn.  After that it got quiet enough to sleep.

Woke up and had to wait for my clothes before I could leave.  I would compare prices here to Mexico.  Not too cheap, or too expensive, and in the right parts of town you can live really economically.  The hotel was 13$ but for a small load of laundry it cost $10.00, which she said she had to wash twice cause they were really dirty...oops grease from the moto i guess.  Then I finally left around 10:00am after having my usual coffee and oatmeal in the room on my electric burner.  Great way to save money.  I also only eat dinner usually so I can afford to splurge a little.  It started to rain on me about halfway through the ride, then began to pour down and it was cold. It was a high of 53* and a low of 37* today, and I was soaked on the outside, but my foul weather gear did it's job and kept me dry underneath.  My shoes and gloves were leather and eventually the moisture penetrated them to my skin....everyone was giving me that "this guy is crazy" look as I rode through town after town....longest 80 kilometers of my journey, I was counting every mile.  But I came around one curve on the mountain and there was a broke down car with a family of 5 inside, I almost hit them, and so did everyone else.  So I kept going, but my heart went out to them, and my conscience told me to do something.   so I saw cones in the road, did a 180 and without stopping grabbed a cone from the middle of the road almost as tall as the bike and laid it across my legs.  All the cars slowed down behind me to see what the heck I was doing cause we were on a four lane highway.  Then I went down to the curve did another 180 and with out stopping put the cone in the middle of the lane 30 feet behind the families car.  I saw the wife smile with a look of relief and the man kinda looked concerned to see what I had done, and I honked and waved and kept on going.  Then I got to Riobamba in the pouring rain.  Asked twice for directions to the hostal finally found it and it is great here.  It's a families house and they rent private rooms for 13$ a night, and no loud karaoke bars... Ate rotisserie chicken at gus's and a slice of flan from the Nestle panaderia.  Hoping my shoes and foul weather gear dry by tomorrow, need to get to Peru.

Click the first photo to enlarge then scroll through them.  The captions should be under each photo as you scroll.

View from my room in Pasto

View from my room in Pasto

My hotel in Pasto, Chambu Plaza

This was the beginning of a protest where the indigenous block the roads with boulders and trees when the government does not give them fair or timely consideration.  It apparently works because they do it a lot. 

Road from Pasto to Ipiales and the Ecuador border 

Anoher photo of the roads leaving Pasto to the south. 

This was a scenic waterfall that everyone was stopping to take pictures of.  Mine don't turn out that well without the high dollar zoom. 

Waterfall next to the road 

Another scenic waterfall shot 

Another scenic view in Colombia on my way to Ipiales.  It is only 85 km from Pasto to Ipiales, but had some of the most amazing views.

Mountain roads from Pasto to Ipiales 

Can you see why I broke 14 spokes?

I asked this Colombian family if I could take their photo while they were weaving the baskets on their front porch.

This was a garden of corn and beans between Pasto and Ipiales.  

Wouldn't you like to have a farm here.  If I was gonna retire abroad it would definitely be in Colombia. 

Same garden, but you can see the other houses on the otherside of the river

Colombian river

 Waterfall through the trees.  I forgot to enhance theses photos before I uploaded them. 

 This guy was blind, but he had no trouble playing the guitar. 

Goats in downtown Ipiales. 

Riding through Ipiales 

This is how you roast a guinea pig! 

My guinea pig lunch

Carlos and Yuselis from Venezuela.  Also fellow motorcycle viajeros. 

Posing for photos is fun.  

I had to turn Carlos down when he asked me to trade

Saying buy is always haard. 

The after photo of my cuy lunch...not bad. 

They really love their guinea pig here in Ipiales, Colombia.

Llama llama ! 

This was where I parked.  I was shocked because I was allowed to drive  almost a kilometer down the cobblestone street  past all the people who had to park and walk.  I just asked and the lady said yes and the policeman put down the chain for me to pass through.  Otherwise I might not have been able to see the church because I couldn't leave my things unattended for that long. 

These plaques were all imbedded into the cliff wall. 

View of the Las Lajas Cathedral from the stairs where you enter. 

View of the first sanctuary below. 

The waterfall in the canyon near the cathedral. 

The stained glass artwork was nice.

Cascada (waterfall)

Another view of the river below and second sanctuary

Las Lajas Cathedral view from the sanctuary

This is where they light the candles.  

 The present church was built in Gothic Revival style between 1916 and 1949. The name Laja comes from the name of a type of flat sedimentary rock similar to shale

This waterfall was in the canyon right next to the church 

Ipiales really is a beautiful place and Las Lajas was a beautiful way to end my trip, even though I am not catholic. 

I asked this lady to take my photo so she went and got her husband and he took it. 

Inside the Cathedral

The policia here don't like their picture taken. I have even heard of rumors of retaliation fines if you take their picture.  This guy kinda smiled because he was unsure if the ipad was a camer and if I was using it to snap his photo. But I couldn't resist with that huge gun. 

They dress up the llamas and charge you to sit on them and have your photo taken.

Standing in line at immigracion

This is the guy that accidentally stamped my passport "salida" witch means leaving ecuador .  He chased me down and fixed it otherwise I would have had major problems. 

The vehicle Aduana window where I stood for two hours.  The papers are the requirements for entry. 

They let me put my bike in the hotel in Tulcan, which they do  quite often.  There are times when I have even driven it into the room.  

My hotel in Tulcan for $6 a night. 

This is the guy that spoured gas all over my tank then told me he wouldn't wipe it off cause Ecuador is different than the states.  I told him he needed help. 

This is the kid who worked the farm in the background with his family.  He wanted to know all about where I was from and what I was doing.  He had never met an American. I gave him $5 

Made it to the Equator.  Still havn't seen the Southern cross constellation though.

The city is 25 miles long, pop. 3 million, elevation, 9000 feet, and is the capital of Ecuador. 

The city went on forever

View of Quitos was pretty shocking.

My view as I entered Quitos.  I never thought I would get there because the city  is on top of mountains so you see the city then it dissapears then you are below it then you are above it and I was unsure where to actually turn to enter.  But after asking a guy he led me to the perfect spot.

I didn't even have to pay extra for the chicken foot. 

My dinner in Quitos for $1.80 soup and drink included 

This is the hostal I would have to find.  It had good reviews on trip advisor.  Gotta love trip advisor. 

159 kilometers to Riobamba, Ecuador along the Panamerican highway 35  

These tolls were every 40km or so and they cost me .20 cents, but they were a pain, cause I had to take off my gloves unzip my pocket dig for twenty cents then put everything back.  While trying not to hold up traffic. 

Yes this usd per gallon. Don't you wish it was that cheap in the US 

My burner making coffee.  I gotta have my stove. 


My cozy room in Riobamba. The family here is so nice.  Glad I stopped here.

The courtyard at Oasis hostal in Riobamba 

Hostal Oasis in Riobamba, Ecuador.
This picture is out of order.  Bit since it's here....
Las Lajas Sanctuary is a basilica churchlocated in the southern Colombian Department of Nariño, municipality of Ipialesand built inside the canyon of the Guáitara River.

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