How it starts
Happy New Year!! and all the best for 2010. Or as Raul made it a little sad: “welcome to the new decade” 😦 … man, it feels like only yesterday we were in Montreal celebrating Y2K.
Trip so far is great. On my first day, I was excited to start, yet anxious. I mean, how will I handle the road? and the bike? How will I face the different cities, different weather conditions, security issues?… well, in the end, I just took it as it comes and enjoyed the ride. I guess this is the only way to embark on such an adventure.
Kilometer 0, Conocoto, 26-Dec-09 @ 8:15: The ride down from Quito to Bahia was beautiful. Climbing to 4,200 meter then zigzagging all the way down: Curves after curves, hairpins, blind turns, hard 90’s,… you name it. Just amazing! Just as I left Quito, I met another rider, Anthony. He has a KTM 640 and we road together for 2+ hours up to Santo Domingo (Km 137, Santo Domingo, 26-Dec-09 @ 10:25). Anthony was familiar with the road, ripping through the turns on these downhill through the cloud forests. It was perfect for me as he was opening the way, passing cars, spotting the road hazards,… I was just following him, enjoying the scenery and the ride. I must have taken more curves on this route then in 1 month in Toronto :).
I hit all kind of roads: good asphalt to completely broken “asphalt” (if you can still call it that), cement highway to dirt and gravel. And from the usual road hazards, to the strange, up to the “what the h-ll!?!”: You got the usual bumps, holes, sand patches, dogs, cows, incoming trafic,… then you are faced with small streams crossing the road, playing chicken with the trucks/buses wanting to pass on an uphill or in a turn, people blocking the road with ropes to collect money,… and then the best: I crossed 2 metal bridges with (BIG) f-in holes in them!! … practice slalom I guess?
Km 357, San Vicente, 26-Dec-09 @ 15:15: Once in San Vicente I realized I had to cross the bay to reach Bahia. To do so, I was directed to ride on the sandy beach up to the water edge then climb the steel slippery ramp of the ferry… Not at all pleasant, scared the hell out of me. I was sure I was going to drop the bike.
Km 370, Bahia, 26-Dec-09 @ 16:30: The wedding was fun! Raul and Belen chose this beautiful hacienda right on the waterfront. What a beautiful setting to tie the knot: Coming in a boat, Belén disembarked and walked down the “aisle” on a long wooden peer to meet Raul who was waiting on the shore. I can just imagine the emotion running through Raoul’s head. The fiesta soon started, the dinner being served around a pool with a dance floor nearby. It was really a great party, perfect to celebrate my first day riding.
I spent the following day with everyone in the city and its beach then on Sunday with the newlyweds, we rode toward Mancora, Peru… with our share of troubles. Raul’s KTM first had electrical problems which kept shutting down the bike. So we stopped in San Jose (just before Olon) (Km 623, San Jose, 28-Dec-09 @ 19:30) in a beautiful hosteria right on the Pacific, with a long a wide sandy beach, perfect for a late night swim. Coincidence, the owner Jessica is Lebanese who moved to Ecuador when she was just 4. Not only the setting was great but so was the host. And who would have said that I will be eating “labneh” for breakfast on an Ecuadorian beach paradise :). The next morning we headed toward Guayaquil but on our way Raul bike’s chain broke: Km 769, Highway to Guayaquil 29-Dec-09 @ 15:00. We had to haul the bike into a truck for the last 50Km drive to Guayaquil. After spending most of the afternoon looking for a mechanic, Raoul and Belen checked-in into a hotel and I headed to spend the night at Victor’s (a.k.a. Makanaki) house, Barry’s uncle.
The repair took all following morning and by the time we left Guayaquil it was already 13:00, which meant we arrived late at the border (Km 1,136, Huaquillas, 30-Dec-09 @ 17:20) and even later in Mancora (Km 1,291, Mancora, 30-Dec-09 @ 20:30). Raul and Belen headed to their honeymoon beach hotel while I crashed in the nearby hostel. Mancora has good beaches for surf but it’s also a wild party place. And being New Year’s eve, it was absolutely crazy. And not to be outdone, my hostel hosted its monthly Full Moon party… all I can (and should) say: it will take me a while to recuperate from Mancora.
Another change of plan! 🙂 Barry bought exactly the same bike as mine (same everything: color, year, model…) and he decided to join me for 1 week of riding. Sweet! I’ll have to ride back with Raul and Belen to Ecuador, this time through the Andes up to Loja where Barry will meet-up with me. I was told about a few routes which I would love to ride and with Barry, it will be so much fun.
or click on “page 2” below to see the photo album.