Joined: Mar 2011
Location: Shediac NB
Cuenca to Macara
When I was in Macara the night before last, getting ready to cross into Peru the next morning i wrote these note to Word about the outstanding ride that day.........
I left Cuenca in the rain this morning knowing I would have to ride high in the mountains to make it to Loja. The rain let up before too long and the road was good. Two lane concrete in very good shape. I have heard the President of Ecuador has made an election promise to have the bst roads in South America within 5 years, He is well on his way to keeping that promise.
I rode up into the clouds and fog. I saw incredible valleys on either side of the road and at times on both sides of the road as I rode across ridge lines linking mountains. At about 11am I wanted my morning Coca-Cola and I stopped at three tiendas before any one came when I pulled up. I was finally served by a wonderful lady in the traditional Andes dress, She was great. She even patiently watched as I did a charade of wanting some Kleenex to clean my glasses, and gave me a few sheets of toilet paper.
After I passed Lojas there is only one word to describe the ride. Outstanding! A brief 10 km interval of gravel for construction led to about 150kms of brand new pavement through switchbacks, climbs, descents, eventually leading to a huge descent into a desert valley that stretches for untold winding miles and leads you to the Peruvian border at Macara, Ecuador. I can see Peru from my balcony. Dream type motorcycling, interspersed with goats, pigs, donkeys, horses, cows but no traffic. None! I counted two big trucks all day!
I am at the Gran Hostal Macara for $10/night. Secure parking, spotlessly clean, TV, cold shower, private bath but no WiFi. I’m posting this to Word to post to ADVrider later.
I’m met an opposite direction inmate today, Paul from Brazil at a military check point. He’s ridden Bolivia and Peru on a GS 800 and is going through Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela, then back to Brazil via the Amazon, passing through Manaus. ADVENTURE! Really nice guy, dripping with the enthusiasm for life Brazilians seem to be famous for . When Paul left I spent 20 minute talking to the military guys about my trip, or at least, trying to. Fun! Not he scary bribe sucking people I was worried about when I left home. For the most part, they are very young men doing a job you couldn’t pay me to do, guarding their countries in very remote locations.
When I got to the Hostal I noticed what looked like a horseshoe nail head in my front tire! Yikes! I had just blasted through 150 K of wild mountain road at speed and then this??? True to form with trusty the KLR there was a tire shop beside the hostal!!! WTF! How can that be. I went over there, showed the guys, got out my jack knife and popped the nail out. As luck would have it, it wasn’t a nail but a piece of safety glass that had penetrated the lug but not the tire. Yay!
I bought three beers at the nearest Tienda and am chilling listening to the night sounds, dogs barking little motos, Spanish TV from other suites, in tropically warn Macara. Glad to be stopped but overwhelmed by my ride on what Ecuador calls the southern section of the E-35 the “Troncal de la Sierra” What a great name for and outstanding piece of road.
A marvelously outstanding day.
Peru tomorrow! I am a block from the International Bridge! I cannot see a single light in Peru.
A thought on essential equipment. You need a good down jacket if you come to SA. You will want to wear it from time to time in the mountains but, and this is important, in the tropical regions they make the best damn coolers money can buy. Get a few cold ones at the Tienda and your down jacket will keep them cold for hours.
Also, many things I see, there is nowhere to stop and take a picture. Bananas growing at the side of the road. People in Native dress, butterflies, hawks, vultures, pigs on the road, Llamas, goats sheep, road hazards like piles of sand left in your lane with no warning. Boulders on the road. I saw some today, without any exaggeration, the size of Volkswagens. Do not ride here at night especially in the mountains. I wish I had some halogen accessories lights on Trusty. They would be a good investment.
Buy good maps. Maps of everything. Spend the bucks for city maps etc. You will love them. Bring a Lonely Planet guide of South America or a Footprint Guide. You will use it. There is a map store on Broadway in Vancouver that has everything you need. I cant remember their name but they have everything and they can be found by googling “maps, Vancouver, Broadway” Spend the money, buy everything you might need, you will use it. Buy lots of sealable baggies to put all that stuff in and a binder, Just some thoughts tonight, while I don’t have internet or English TV. Hope it helps anyone planning a South American Adventure