Quito to Riobamba. 9,600miles. - 3rd July 2001
Here we are again! Welcome to all our readers.
On Tuesday 19th after our sons wedding on the 16th we flew to Quito, Equador to continue our journey. At Stansted airport David could not find the outbound air tickets. Panic! We looked in all the bags and even gave our son Mark a worrying time when we phoned home to see if they were still on the desk. After another search through everything, Joan found them wrapped in David's jacket on the top of the luggage trolley. They had been put there when David got them out to present at the airline desk and was told to go to another one. He completely forgot that he had already taken them from the envelope. If genuinely lost it would have cost us 40 pounds each to replace them.
We changed planes at Amsterdam, stopped at Curacao, Guayaquil and finally Quito at 8.30a.m. their time. 19 hours total travelling time.
No damage to our bikes. We put them together and rode towards Quito - or so we thought. After 2 miles we realised we were going North instead of South. Davids navigation by the sun fails drastically at the equator. He will use the compass in future.
Quito is just like any other large Latin American city - a bit like a smaller version of La Paz in Bolivia. The currency of Equador is the US dollar.
Eventually found the recommended hotel Marcella, which was $9 with toilet, shower and hot water. In the evening we met James and his brother from New Zealand who we had arranged to meet here and another cyclist from Switzerland, Matt.
Decided not to hang around and to go to Latacunga the next day. As Latacunga was slightly lower in altitude than Quito the consensus was that the 60-mile ride would be mostly downhill. Wrong! We did 5000ft of climbing and the last 20 flat miles were against a stiff headwind. All this jet-lagged. On the way we had good views of the 1900ft Cotapaxi volcano.
While trying to find the recommended hotel in Latacunga, David noticed with horror that his front bag was missing and realised that he had left it in a cafe a few miles back. As it contained the passports, air tickets, cameras and everything of importance he dashed back to see if it was still there. It was! A very relieved David and Joan finally settled into a hotel at $11 without en-suite. David will forget Joan next!
Head wind still against us next day to Banos. Cycled some of the way with James and his brother Andy, and Matt who left us to go to Riobamba. The four of us finally made it to Banos when we found double rooms with en-suite and breakfast for $4 dollars each. Banos is a small tourist town in a wonderful valley setting and towered over by Tungarahua volcano. We were told that just 3 weeks ago the volcano erupted and the town was evacuated! We haven't mentioned this before, but two weeks before we flew out, we contacted James by email to find out where he was. To our surprise, he told us that he would be in Quito on the day we arrived and his brother Andy was arriving from New Zealand on the same day. They were to cycle down to La Paz before Andy returned. Another surprise, their father had treated them to a week in an upmarket resort in Banos. As the apartment had 3 bedrooms we were invited to stay.
The resort turned out to be a hotel and a collection of very upmarket villas. The 3 bedroom one was said to be unavailable due to damage, but we ended up with two separate ones between us all and we had one to ourselves.
Banos could be seen far below us and the volcano towered above us. A spectacular setting. The weather started fine, but soon settled down to mist and drizzle - typical of mountain weather. Our plans to explore the area were defeated. We played pool, cards and went into town a couple of times. On Friday, the weather improved slightly and we decided to make a run for it at midday.
The ride out was much harder that we had anticipated. 3000ft of hard climbing and we ended up in Ambata, 36 miles on, for the night $8 for the room. $3 for chicken and chips and coke for two.
We expected a fairly hard ride to Riobamba, but we did not expect the road to rise to 11,800ft with 4,500ft of climbing at altitude.
A rest in Riobamba for a day. Slightly posher hotel for $10.
Dave and Joan