From the beginning of this trip I kept saying that this trip is not about riding. It's about exploring, meeting people and getting to know new cultures. The fact that we were doing it on bikes was just a bonus. But riding almost every day across Central and South America made me realize there couldn't be better riding than this! As we ride mostly through the mountains, the road twists beautifully between palm trees, coffee tree hills, high grass, rocks, under the sun or through the misty rain. It's a fairy tale!
And to top it off, yesterday we had one of the craziest and most challenging rides. We stopped for the night in Azogues, a wonderful town in the mountains, about 30 km before Cuenca. We saw on the top of a peak there a big statue,*so we figured we should go and check it out. We started climbing the steep cobblestone streets with sharp turns, watching the beautiful houses on both sides. It seems like some wealthy people are living there. Then we continued a bit on a gravel road till the foot of the mountain, until the road narrowed a lot. We weren't sure if it was possible to go on bikes all the way up. We asked some local people, and they confirmed for us that it was possible. Looking up, the road looked to me more like a trail, very steep with 180 degree turns.
As you know how much I love gravel lately, I didn't feel like going on my bike all the way. One of the local ladies offered to keep my bike on the patio of her house, so two up we kept going. Boy, was I ever happy I didn't go on my bike! That was a ride with no mistakes allowed. The road was very narrow, a car could barely fit, very steep up and very sharp turns on gravel. At some point there were cars coming down, so we had to go into the ditch almost one meter deep to make room for them. On the side of the mountain I was feeling safe, but I was afraid to look to the other side. I couldn't even see how deep the drop was. We got to a little "parking lot" from where only access to pedestrians was allowed. But the guy there made us sign that we could go by the gate and keep going. You can imagine, we were the only motorized people on that trail; 'cause at this point that was not a road anymore, it was literally a trail, where lots of families with kids were going up and down. I cannot explain to you how my heart was racing and how high my pulse was. I cannot believe we actually made it there! I almost wanted to walk back down
And here we are at the top, and the view we have from here.
Despite my adrenaline, and probably his as well, you can picture the smile on Vasile's face, since this is his kind of ride: "You've got to be kidding me!!!"
Here is a short video with the ride
So far in this trip I think this ride gave me the most adrenaline. Oh, this and the shower in one of the hotels we stayed at here in Ecuador.
I was afraid to raise my hands above my head to wash my hair. A few drops of water on those electric wires manually connected to our shower would have spelled disaster....or hair perm. This is the closest I got to death in this trip
But the fun continues. From Azogues we took a side road with some beautiful villages. Ecuadorians take pride in their houses. There were some beautiful big houses along the way. This reminded me of the Transylvanian villages, especially those in the counties of Bistrita-Nasaud and Maramures. Actually the whole landscape looked so much like Romanian landscape in the countryside, just that at 2500 m higher.
We got to see the*Ingapirca ruins as well. I loved the quiet feel, the fact that they were just there, some of them on the side of the road, and it was not made too touristy yet.
Ecuadorians seem to be very agriculture and farm oriented. There are sheep, horses, caws and cornfields everywhere.
And their dedication to farming is reflected in the delicious food as well.
We look around with big eyes like two kids. We're loving it every day more. We're loving "el dolce far' niente", the days with no schedules, no plans, just stopping wherever we like it and discovering things and places spontaneously.