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Old 04-05-2013, 07:24 PM   #181
porkandcorn OP
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puerto chicama, peru

thursday, april 4, 2013

note: no wi-fi at puerto chicama for the last couple of days. i am still alive...

atop a hill, south of the main town is a short strings of hotels built for the express purposes of allowing people from all over the world to surf the longest wave on the planet. there must be 7 or 8 of them, most in the $10-20 USD range, with one gringo trap at about $100 USD per night. i received a veritable police escort most of the way to the beach. the police sergeants sister runs the famous 'el hombre hotel', the first hotel built to overlook the famous wave. and it is 'the man hotel', because no woman would ever want to live with all these dudes, their festering wetsuits, their beer, cigarettes and marijuana. these guys are here to surf among other men. right now, there is an american (me), 2 swiss, an austrian, a brit, a few argentines, a brazilian, and a french guy that just arrived from a 2-week retreat with a psychedelic, vision-quest shaman in the jungle. los hombres indeed.


surfer hotels, puerto chicama, peru by porkandcorn, on Flickr


police escort to puerto chicama, peru by porkandcorn, on Flickr


el hombre hostel, puerto chicama, peru by porkandcorn, on Flickr

i rented a thick wetsuit for the cold water, and picked out the longest, fattest sea-barge i could find to ride this sucker. i first had to overcome my natural fear of the ocean and some 10-15 year-old memories of surfing disasters (i'm bred more for driving tractors, eating pork chops, and other midwestern land-locked talents). then i had to learn where the skull-busting rock clusters were. then i had to freeze my ass off. then i had to stand up on the board - which i eventually did with a lot of effort and dis-ease. so now i can say that i rode the longest wave in the world, if only for about 5 seconds each on a few occasions throughout the morning.


size matters, puerto chicama, peru by porkandcorn, on Flickr

3 hours was enough splashing around to realize surfing is not, nor never will be, my thing. i got cleaned up and eyed the mountains to the south of the beach. it was time for a pleasure ride on the moto. i had pulled all the boxes off the bike the night before, so the bike was light and nimble. i pointed her up into the hills and seaside cliffs, where there were no roads. the terrain was a perfect mix of hard-packed sand, dirt and fragile rock that made for stabile exploring at just about any speed. i followed along the edge of deep fissures in the mountain-side that ran down to the beach, careful not to fly off one of them to the sand hundreds or thousands of feet below. it was exhilarating, the freedom of the solid ground and no boundaries.


mountains south of puerto chicama, peru by porkandcorn, on Flickr


i rode this here, puerto chicama, peru by porkandcorn, on Flickr


precarious cliff, puerto chicama, peru by porkandcorn, on Flickr

i rode south for an hour, eventually climbing up into the mountain where i got lost for a time. i also lost my wide-angle iphone lens that i have been using for the last 3 months... after i stopped for a photo, forget to zip up the top pouch of my tank bag, and it spilled out soon thereafter. a 20 minute combing of the mars-like surface turned up nothing. good. i was tired of dragging that lens around, pulling it out, and using it all the time to make beautiful photos. i'm better without the stupid thing. part of me wanted to loose everything i have out on that mountainside...


i'm completely lost, puerto chicama, peru by porkandcorn, on Flickr


end of the road that doesn't exist, puerto chicama, peru by porkandcorn, on Flickr

i must have taken a different path back, because i found some more hidden beaches below the cliffs, and a strange cluster of vacant building and concrete walls that were built for who knows what purpose. it was a fantastic ride and it cleared my head of many things that didn't need to be there. motorcycles are very good for that. i guess surfing is pretty good for that too.


where is tom hanks?, puerto chicama, peru by porkandcorn, on Flickr


why was this built here, puerto chicama, peru by porkandcorn, on Flickr


building, puerto chicama, peru by porkandcorn, on Flickr

i went back to my $10.00/night hotel, and accompanied my new british buddy peter over to the gringo trap hotel. we paid $15 USD to lay around the infinity edge pool, pilfer the wifi (that conveniently didn't work), and chill out in luxury. the people who were staying there seemed depressed, likely because they got caught in the trap and paid way too much. peter and i enjoyed our over-priced pisco sours and lunch, knowing that we were staying in puerto chicama for nearly free at the shit-hole man-cave down the way. peter is a really nice guy. there was a beetle clearly dying on the pool deck, and he had the british courtesy to decapitate it and end it's pain. i locked my door that night.


peter, puerto chicama, peru by porkandcorn, on Flickr


massacre at puerto chicama, peru by porkandcorn, on Flickr


don't get too comfortable chum, puerto chicama, peru by porkandcorn, on Flickr

i like this beach a lot. it is shockingly under-developed from a tourism perspective. i hope it can stay that way. it's one of very few places i've found that have managed to escape the incessant virus of humanity that seems to spoil so many perfectly nice places.

i needed this time to regain my focus, and these smaller towns make that task much easier. catching some waves was good for me too. i was tired of feeling defeated. remembering how to surf was an obstacle to overcome - and riding a few waves reminded me what i can do when i set my mind to something and persist through the fear, discomfort, even pain.


sunset 3, puerto chicama, peru by porkandcorn, on Flickr


nice rocks, puerto chicama, peru by porkandcorn, on Flickr

i had a nice run on the beach this afternoon. a thick, cold fog was rolling over the mountains and racing down on the beach and out to sea. the afternoon sun was obscured by the streaming mist, creating a beautiful undulating glow that was cast over the entire community. flocks of thousands and thousands of birds uprooted themselves as i passed down the beach, maintaining a circular barrier around me. as i ran, i thought to myself how amazing it is where i am and what i'm doing. i forget sometimes. today i remembered again.


golden sunset, puerto chicama, peru by porkandcorn, on Flickr


birds in the sun, puerto chicama, peru by porkandcorn, on Flickr


moto taxi for the beach, puerto chicama, peru by porkandcorn, on Flickr


the end of an era, puerto chicama, peru by porkandcorn, on Flickr

--------------------

friday, april 5, 2013

currently in máncora, peru. wifi exists here!!

porkandcorn screwed with this post 04-20-2013 at 06:08 PM
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Old 04-07-2013, 10:37 AM   #182
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puerto chicama, peru to máncora, peru

sunday, april 7, 2013

it was a 7 hour trip from puerto chicama to máncora, peru. fairly uneventful, except i met some colombians taking a break under a tree in the desert. if colombians think it's hot, it's hot. they got photos of me and the rare tiger, and i got their emails. they live in medellín, and i needed contacts in medellín. the desert was fruitful.


puerto chicama to mancora by porkandcorn, on Flickr


colombianos 1, sucherra desert, peru by porkandcorn, on Flickr


columbianos y americano, sucherra desert, peru by porkandcorn, on Flickr

and now i'm here in máncora enjoying the beach. i stayed at a less-than-desirable hotel the first night, because i was too exhausted to care. it was only $20.00 USD. early the next morning, i walked down the beach to search for a better hotel. i found it after about a 5 minute walk. if you are ever in máncora, you'll be hard-pressed to find a better spot or vibe than the del wawa hotel, at $85.00 peruvian soles/night ($25.00 USD) for a beach front room. it's very close to the main drag, but just far enough away to avoid the riff-raff.


hotel wawa 2, máncora, peru by porkandcorn, on Flickr


hotel wawa, máncora, peru by porkandcorn, on Flickr


view from hotel wawa, máncora, peru by porkandcorn, on Flickr

i surprised myself by surfing again saturday morning. there is a surf school about 100 feet from my beachfront room, so i took the opportunity to learn from an instructor for an hour. no wonder i suck at surfing - i have been doing almost everything wrong. this time, i was actually riding waves for what seemed like a long time. i was exhausted after about 2 hours. i don't use surfing muscles very much in portland. had another run to get my legs caught up with my upper body, and now i'm planning on sucking down about 5 maricujá sours. this is a variation on the peru classic - the pisco sour. it is passion fruit pureé, pisco (which is like a very strong grappa), triple sec, and egg white shaken to a heavy foam.


coco man, máncora, peru by porkandcorn, on Flickr


pipa helado, máncora, peru by porkandcorn, on Flickr

in the spirit of throwing my schedule to the wind, i've decided to stay here in máncora until monday morning, when i will theoretically enter ecuador. if i don't make it to cartegena, colombia (my goal) then i don't make it to cartegena. i'm not going to be miserable doing it. the journey is the destination, as it should always be.


chillin', máncora, peru by porkandcorn, on Flickr


chillin' todovia, máncora, peru by porkandcorn, on Flickr
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Old 04-08-2013, 07:42 AM   #183
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Fritz,

Looks like you shook the blues. The sand and surf has done wonders for you. Keep the good reports coming.

Jody
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Old 04-08-2013, 12:18 PM   #184
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You are living the life, my man! So glad you got it up to go surfing! That's a good display of courage, as is exploring and getting lost high up above the beach. I believe I may have spotted my bike in the group photo with the Colombians. '08 flat black v-strom, far right. Or maybe I'm just imagining I'm there and not here in a little room in nyc surrounded by hammering, yelling, and ...... I faintly hear a bird singing outside somewhere. I feel like that bird, wanting to fly outta here! Keep on adventuring!
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Old 04-08-2013, 11:00 PM   #185
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máncora, peru to loja, ecuador

monday, april 8, 2013

well, my stomach is screwed again, my neck and back are killing me, and my hotel has roaches - but other than that i'm doing great here in ecuador! i've got most of my possessions on lockdown inside my ortlieb dry duffle, and i finally dipped into the ciprofloaxin antibiotics that i brought along. my neck is out of alignment from surfing, but it will probably go away with time. so all that is under control...

máncora was hard to leave. the hotel on the beach was pretty incredible. $100 USD for two days, lot's of drinks, food, and great hospitality. but ecuador was calling. so many bananas, so little time.


old pier, máncora, peru by porkandcorn, on Flickr


sunset, máncora, peru by porkandcorn, on Flickr

the border was a bit complicated. the peruvian exit was fine, as was immigration into ecuador for my visa. ecuadorian customs was about 5 km further up the road - and i was wondering if it was really going to be where i was told it was. and once i got there, i was told i needed to go 15 km back to huaquilles, ecuador to buy insurance and get some copies. (so if you are entering ecuador, just take the return road to hauquilles just north of immigration, and get your insurance before you go to customs.)


entering ecuador by porkandcorn, on Flickr

the insurance debacle was about a 90 minute ordeal, and it was very hot and very humid. pretty much right when you cross into ecuador, you start sweating and wishing you had no clothes on - as opposed to 50 pounds of moto gear.

i was told to go across from the bank at the main square, but i didn't see anything that said "seguros" (insurance). after asking around for a while, i was told insurance was sold inside the internet cafe. there, a 13 year-old insurance salesman had the decency to fill out my application while he tended to his game of halo 3 and sold endless bottles of coca cola to other teenagers also playing halo 3. i feel very confident that the $4.00 USD policy sold to my by a pimply teenager will cover me and my $20,000 moto through thick and thin here in ecuador. back to the customs office for document processing, and i was finally on my way into the jungle.


SOAT mean insurance, huaquilles, ecuador by porkandcorn, on Flickr


internet cafe, huaquilles, ecuador by porkandcorn, on Flickr


13 year-old insurance salesman, huaquilles, ecuador by porkandcorn, on Flickr

as i climbed into the ecuadorian cloud forests, the oppressive humidity and rain soaked dirt turned to fogged-in pavement and colder temperatures. i was looking for monkeys and toucans, but i didn't find any. they are out there, hiding from me.


coastal jungle, east of huaquilles, ecuador by porkandcorn, on Flickr


cloud forest, charuarpamba, ecuador by porkandcorn, on Flickr


cloud forest 2, charuarpamba, ecuador by porkandcorn, on Flickr


the clearing, cloud forest, charuarpamba, ecuador by porkandcorn, on Flickr

i made it to loja, ecuador, and drove downtown. at $36.00 USD, the grande hotel loja seemed like a pretty good deal for a 4-star hotel. despite the roaches, it's a pretty nice place. i tended to some laundering of my drawers while i watched my favorite south american soap opera, "corona de lagrimas' (crown of tears). it is maybe the worst-produced, most poorly-written and horribly-acted tv show i have ever seen and for those reasons, it is dear to my heart. you'll be happy to know that i found a lemon-scented laundry detergent called 'patito' or (ducky). everything really is "bien lavadito con patito!"


roach hotel, loja, ecuador by porkandcorn, on Flickr


taking care of business, loja, ecuador by porkandcorn, on Flickr


corona de lagrimas, loja, ecuador by porkandcorn, on Flickr


bien lavadito con patito, loja, ecuador by porkandcorn, on Flickr

for dinner, i walked around a bit until i found an entire neighborhood that specialized in middle-eastern cuisine. it was a bit odd to see a bunch of signs with arabic in the middle of the mountains in ecuador. but i like middle eastern food, and so i found a nice, relaxing little spot and had an amazing meal.


tranquilo, loja, ecuador by porkandcorn, on Flickr


comida aribe, loja, ecuador by porkandcorn, on Flickr


chillin, loja, ecuador by porkandcorn, on Flickr
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Old 04-09-2013, 11:03 PM   #186
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loja, ecuador to cuenca, ecuador

wednesday, april 10, 2013

i'm really enjoying ecuador. it's quite different than perú and bolivia. it is easier to travel here. the roads are better - so far they have been actually paved in concrete and in nearly perfect condition as opposed to the pot-holed asphalt of recent weeks. there are better services along the roadsides and in the little towns you pass, and you can actually get a descent cup of coffee in most places. the towns and cities are much cleaner - this is a stark contrast to perú and bolivia, where the entire landscapes are littered with trash. there seems to be a more deeply-set cultural standard of cleanliness and organization in ecuador, and growing up in a country that shares this philosophy, it is a nice change.


north of loja, ecuador by porkandcorn, on Flickr


beautiful pavement, ruta 35, ecuador by porkandcorn, on Flickr


ruta 35, north of loja, ecuador by porkandcorn, on Flickr


loja to cuenca by porkandcorn, on Flickr

the tension that you feel in the cities of perú and bolivia is instantly gone crossing into ecuador. now, it feels a bit like traveling in chile, or brazil, where life was a bit easier and more familiar. i just came back from a walk around the central area of cuenca at 11pm, and the streets were empty and well lit. i didn't feel like there was any need to be concerned about safety, although i'm sure caution is still required.


tiger guard, loja, ecuador by porkandcorn, on Flickr

i don't know if these differences are a result of changes in the culture, due to the availability of greater public funds, or both. but it is immediately noticeable. talking to an american expat in a coffee shop earlier today, i learned that cuenca has a very large US expat population. retirees and disenfranchised americans alike have flocked here for various reasons, including the temperate climate, and the power of the dollar.


parque calderon, cuenca, ecuador by porkandcorn, on Flickr

it's interesting to be using US dollars again after 3 months. the dollar has been the official currency here since the 80's, and they are very fond of $1 dollar coins and 50 cent coins. the money is a bit worn, and it appears like this is one of the countries where our crinkled, dirty bills live out a full, second life. it's also nice to be back to buying gallons of gas as opposed to liters. gas is about $2 a gallon here, much cheaper than in other countries where i've previously travelled.


shoe shine, cuenca, ecuador by porkandcorn, on Flickr


shined shoes, cuenca, ecuador by porkandcorn, on Flickr

i guess i really am an american. because i like the familiarity of these systems and philosophies of life in ecuador. it is making me appreciate what most of us take for granted in the US.


parque calderon 2, cuenca, ecuador by porkandcorn, on Flickr

i'm going to stay here tomorrow. the hotel, the hotel inca real, is great. it's right in the central district, and my tiger is happily sleeping in the interior courtyard outside my window. i changed out my rear tire to the anakee 2 in loja yesterday, so i can just spent the day being a tourist and swilling endless cups of coffee in the ecuadorian sun. my stomach is already back to normal, and i'm going to try to hunt down a deep-tissue massage or a chiropractor too.


hotel inca real, cuenca, ecuador by porkandcorn, on Flickr


indoor patio, hotel inca real, cuenca, ecuador by porkandcorn, on Flickr

porkandcorn screwed with this post 04-10-2013 at 03:53 PM
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Old 04-10-2013, 08:35 PM   #187
bakoholmes
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Beer in hand waiting in suspense!

All caught up and hooked. This is my first RR start to "current" and it has been an awesome journey. Cant wait to start planning my first trip. Now just to choose the bike.
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Old 04-12-2013, 11:25 AM   #188
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cuenca, ecuador to montañita, ecuador

friday, april 12, 2013

riding west out of cuenca, i come through the parque nacional las cajas. it's an area of high mountain lakes and ponds at about 13,000 - 14,000 feet. based on the map, i was expecting dirt. it was perfect pavement. i'll take the concrete right now - my neck is not doing great, in fact seems to be getting a bit worse. i must have knocked something pretty far out of alignment down in peru. riding dirt and gravel would completely send me over the edge with respect to pain. i'm ok with this, i've had plenty of dirt and bad roads in the last 3 months. i'm not too proud to coast home with a cocktail in my hand.


parque nacional las cajas, ecudor by porkandcorn, on Flickr


una caja, parque nacional las cajas, ecudor by porkandcorn, on Flickr


branches, parque nacional las cajas, ecudor by porkandcorn, on Flickr


river, parque nacional las cajas, ecudor by porkandcorn, on Flickr


triumph, parque nacional las cajas, ecudor by porkandcorn, on Flickr


cuenca to montanita by porkandcorn, on Flickr

i've wandered into the master's world surfing championship in montañita - competing are euacador, puerto rico, venezuela, brazil, argentina, chile, uruguay, australia, japan, united states, peru, costa rica, and a few more countries. i was going to enter in the championship, but i decided to give some other guys a chance to dominate the waves. i withdrew out of courtesy.


the competitors, world masters surf championship, montañita, ecuador by porkandcorn, on Flickr


team hawaii, world masters surf championship, montañita, ecuador by porkandcorn, on Flickr


team ecuador, world masters surf championship, montañita, ecuador by porkandcorn, on Flickr


team uruguay, world masters surf championship, montañita, ecuador by porkandcorn, on Flickr


cameraman, world masters surf championship, montañita, ecuador by porkandcorn, on Flickr

i got an invite to crash the official championship party by the organizers - the ISA (international surfing association) headquarted out of la jolla, california. i couldn't find the usa team that i met earlier, and it was too loud to have a descent conversation with anyone else in spanish. i walked home on the beach, and went to be early. i spent the night inside of mosquito net, peacefully retaining all of my blood to fight through another challenging day lazing about the beach.


usa huddle, by porkandcorn, on Flickr


team usa, world masters surf championship, montañita, ecuador by porkandcorn, on Flickr


team costa rica, world masters surf championship, montañita, ecuador by porkandcorn, on Flickr


team brazil, world masters surf championship, montañita, ecuador by porkandcorn, on Flickr


team venezuela, world masters surf championship, montañita, ecuador by porkandcorn, on Flickr


big camera, world masters surf championship, montañita, ecuador by porkandcorn, on Flickr

i think i like the beach. i'm always in anticipation of the return to the waves, the water, the sun. it's much easier to relax here, with a span of beach to walk or run at any time. it's also easier to be social. you can plant yourself on a piece of sand, or at a beach bar, and strike up conversations during a full day of doing absolutely nothing. the air is clean, people are happy, and reggae permeates everything.
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Old 04-12-2013, 01:18 PM   #189
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wow, great colours!

Colourful countries shows how vibrant a culture can be.

Nice pics, ride on!

cheers,
Dave
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Old 04-15-2013, 09:50 PM   #190
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montañita, ecuador to canoa, ecuador to cotopaxi national park, ecuador

monday april, 15, 2013

i finished day two of the surfing competition in montañita, and on saturday morning rode north five hours to canoa, ecuador. still feeling a strong desire to arrive in columbia, and the caribbean beyond. but there is so much to see here in ecuador.


rosa mistic hotel, montañita, ecuador by porkandcorn, on Flickr


puerto lopez, ecuador by porkandcorn, on Flickr


bahia de puerto lopez, ecuador by porkandcorn, on Flickr

canoa was… interesting. it was supposed to be a very laid back, calm beach. i can't count the number of people who recommended it as a tranquil spot to relax. well, it was not. in fact, it was the most chaotic, polluted, and un-relaxing of all the beaches i've visited so far. to be fair, i did arrive on a saturday. the locals from the nearby city, bahía de caráquez, swarmed the beach and the small town in a 'white-trash' frenzy. it was the ecuadorian version of the jersey shore. with some luck and skill, i did find a very nice beach-front room at the hotel bambú with air conditioning, mosquito net, and a comfortable bed - luxuries for sure. canoa was entertaining from a anthropological perspective for an afternoon and a obnoxiously loud night, but i was ready to go in the morning.


canoa, ecuador by porkandcorn, on Flickr

i was having a hard time deciding my path back to the mountains, as there were several. i picked one that set me toward the cotopaxi national park.


montanita to cotopaxi by porkandcorn, on Flickr

i broke from protocol and rode up through the lowland jungles without my riding jacket. i was gasping for air, overheating, nearly hyperventilating. while i was riding through the maze of quayaquil, ecuador a few days previous, the triumph overheated due to a combination of the 100 degree temperatures and fighting through crawling traffic in the huge coastal city. in the lowlands of ecuador, the heat and humidity is completely oppressive. and when you are that uncomfortable, it's sometimes hard to enjoy your surroundings.


south of canoa, ecuador by porkandcorn, on Flickr


bananas and a tiger, pedernales, ecuador by porkandcorn, on Flickr


bananas, pedernales, ecuador by porkandcorn, on Flickr

but still, this country is leaving its mark. it's beautiful here, and very diverse. in such a small surface area, there are beautiful beaches, jungles, rain forests, glaciers, volcanoes, deserts, plains, and just about everything else. this is definitely a place that will need to be revisited at another time.


typical scene, limones, ecuador by porkandcorn, on Flickr


leaving, hacienda los mortiños, cotopaxi national park, ecuador by porkandcorn, on Flickr

cotopaxi is a 5,900 meter strata volcano - meaning it reached it's enormous height by a central volcano building upon several flanking volcanic vents. also, just south from where i am having breakfast this morning stands chimborazo volcano - at 6,310 meters it is the highest point on earth as measured from the center of the planet. the equatorial bulge gives it a slight advantage over mt. everest.


cotopaxi volcano, ecuador by porkandcorn, on Flickr


hacienda los morteños by porkandcorn, on Flickr

the guest house that is stumbled upon - the hacienda los mortiños - is incredible. it's breathtakingly beautiful here. i have the entire place to myself.


hacienda los mortiños, cotopaxi national park, ecuador by porkandcorn, on Flickr


dining room, hacienda los mortiños, cotopaxi national park, ecuador by porkandcorn, on Flickr


rainbow, hacienda los mortiños, cotopaxi national park, ecuador by porkandcorn, on Flickr

after a labored night's sleep (adjusting to the altitude, again) i'm sipping my coffee, eating an amazing breakfast, and staring outside in hopes that cotopaxi opens up for another photo-op. juan, the caretaker, is treating my like royalty this morning. his spanish is clear and precise, and easy to understand. we have been talking about my travels, his country, and a myriad of other topics. i'm in no rush to leave, as my next destination - quito, ecuador - is only a couple hours ride. quito is the capital of ecuador, a city of about 2 million people, and a cultural gem of the andes.


waiting for the clearing, hacienda los mortiños, cotopaxi national park, ecuador by porkandcorn, on Flickr


pablo and raul, hacienda los mortiños, cotopaxi national park, ecuador by porkandcorn, on Flickr

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Old 04-15-2013, 10:54 PM   #191
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cotopaxi, ecuador to baños, ecuador

tuesday, april 15, 2013

i woke up and decided i wanted to take in some more of the surrounding area before heading north into quito, ecuador. i mentioned an interest in seeing lagoa quilotowa, and pablo, the owner of the hacienda at cotopaxi suggested a route that circled around the volcanic crater lake.

the loop took me down from the foothills of cotopaxi, and a bit further south through the towns of lasso, toacazo, insilivi, sigchos, chugchilán. at first it was a paved road, but it gave way to gravel, then bad dirt, then sand. i missed the heidenau scout rear tire that i originally had on the bike. it was noticeably less reliable in the sand especially.


near sigchos, ecuador by porkandcorn, on Flickr


sigchos, ecuador by porkandcorn, on Flickr


insilivi, ecuador by porkandcorn, on Flickr


chugchilan, ecuador by porkandcorn, on Flickr


sandstone near lagoa quilotoa by porkandcorn, on Flickr

arriving at quilotoa lake, i was immediately reminded of oregon's own crater lake, which i believe is even larger. nonetheless, quilotoa was a spectacular site, at first covered in mist and clouds. i had lunch nearby, in hopes that the sun would break through and illuminate the spectacular body of green salt-water that fills the enormous blast crater. the sun luckily shone through, and i had a few minutes to capture these shots before clouds and mist again overtook the lake.


lagoa quilotoa, ecuador by porkandcorn, on Flickr


lake 1, lagoa quilotoa, ecuador by porkandcorn, on Flickr


lake 2, lagoa quilotoa, ecuador by porkandcorn, on Flickr


cactus flowers, lagoa quilotoa, ecuador by porkandcorn, on Flickr


man and lake, lagoa quilotoa, ecuador by porkandcorn, on Flickr

it was about a 3 hour ride down from the lake to baños, ecuador - a city famously evacuated a few years back when the enormous tungarahua volcano awakened from it's centuries-long slumber. now, the volcano is having another siesta, and only occasionally smokes or grumbles. for now, the thermal baths that surround the city are a constant reminder of what brews under the earth. if this sucker were to start up again, i'd be screwed and then cooked - we're deep inside of a canyon on the side of the volcano, and its a long ride out of here.


cotopaxi to banos by porkandcorn, on Flickr

after checking into a hostel, i walked a few blocks down the street to one of several thermal baths in the area. after paying my $3 USD, i walked up to where the "hot" pool was. there seemed to be more old people in the pool than water. but i braved the elements, and walked in... H - O - L - Y! - S - H - I - T! that was some hot water. it could not have been any less than 120 degrees. it literally felt like i was cooking. but everyone else seemed to be just fine. i popped into the cold dip adjacent to the hot pool. it feel like it was pure ice, almost worse. i had paid for a $3 dollar torture session. but after a few more cold and hot dips, i was starting to get addicted. it felt fantastic. and i spent the next 2 hours hopping back and forth from the two pools in a very relaxed state of mineral bliss. at some point, i grabbed my chin and twisted my head in an effort to release the misalignment that had been in my neck since peru. CRACK! it came out! viva los baños!

porkandcorn screwed with this post 04-15-2013 at 11:00 PM
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Old 04-17-2013, 06:55 PM   #192
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baños, ecuador to otavalo, ecuador to pasto, colombia

wednesday, april 17, 2013

baños to quito, ecuador was a 3-hour ride through twisting back roads and twisting 6-lane modern freeways. i arrived in quito, completely prepared to spend a night there. the city was massive, and i wasn't feeling it after lunch and coffee. so i continued north to look for a smaller, more manageable city to spend the night.


banos to pasto by porkandcorn, on Flickr

i pulled into otavalo, ecuador around 5pm, ready to stop riding. as i was leaving the valle del amanecer hostel to walk around the city, a young couple pulled up on a bmw 1150. i convinced ben and angie to stay at the same hostel, as i'd already been to a few and decided it was the best available in the area. over dinner, we talked about the joys and pains of traveling alone and with a partner via motorcycle. the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.


bengalina arriving, otavalo, ecuador by porkandcorn, on Flickr


plaza principal, otavalo, ecuador by porkandcorn, on Flickr


electric church, otavalo, ecuador by porkandcorn, on Flickr

they started in quebec, canada (ben is canadian) and worked their way down to ecuador the hard way - through central america. angi is from switzerland, and sometimes drives the big bmw. she doesn't like driving in cities though. they met and fell in love when ben was on his last moto trip in south america. here's their blog: www.bengelina.blog.com. good people. and an instant bond as is usual between fellow moto-adventurers. we are the only ones who really understand each other!


saying goodbye, otavalo, ecuador by porkandcorn, on Flickr

this morning, i left otavalo, ecuacor for colombia. bengelina recommended a ride through the el angel ecological reserve. the dirt and rock road more or less paralleled the panamerican highway, so i figured 'why not.' it turned out to be a really beautiful, remote place. it was a bumpy ride, but a nice diversion from the traffic of the panamerican and a good opportunity to soak up the few remaining kilometers of ecuador before crossing to colombia.


climbing, el angel ecological reserve, ecuador by porkandcorn, on Flickr


looking south, el angel ecological reserve, ecuador by porkandcorn, on Flickr


colombia in the distance, el angel ecological reserve, ecuador by porkandcorn, on Flickr


grass, el angel ecological reserve, ecuador by porkandcorn, on Flickr


farms, el angel ecological reserve, ecuador by porkandcorn, on Flickr


dr. suess triumph, el angel ecological reserve, ecuador by porkandcorn, on Flickr


fuzzy trees, el angel ecological reserve, ecuador by porkandcorn, on Flickr


fuzzier trees, el angel ecological reserve, ecuador by porkandcorn, on Flickr

now i'm in pasto, colombia. because i had not prepared to be here, landing in the city was a bit stressful. i got lost for a while in the maze of one-way streets and loco traffic. if it is possible, driving in colombia seems a bit more chaotic than previous countries. but again, i don't know how that is even possible. as usual, there was a bit of nervousness about arriving in a new country. but also as usual, this nervousness quickly fades when you realize that they are all more or less the same.


hello new country, ipiales, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

people here are much less afraid to walk up and say hello. i had no less than 5 people try to help me find my way to a descent hotel. eventually, i settled on the hotel rio mayo on calle 20. colombian cities are organized by numbered streets, and this is a refreshing change. still, it didn't seem to help me much.

...city center, hotel, parking garage, duffle bag, check-in, shower, walk, dinner, photos, blog, maps, tripadvisor, unconscious. lather, rinse, repeat. i'm ready to arrive in medellín and get off the bike for a while.

porkandcorn screwed with this post 04-20-2013 at 05:59 PM
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Old 04-18-2013, 04:15 PM   #193
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Enjoying every word!

I'd imagine Quito - pop 2+1/2 million! - might have felt a bit overwhelming after the countryside. I can well understand wanting to skirt around it and find something more down-scale.

Keep it coming! Loving it!
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Old 04-18-2013, 04:22 PM   #194
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well, i knew i'd be in medellín for several days in a week or so, so i just didn't see the point in fighting through all the traffic and hassle to just sleep for a night and move on. i've definitely developed a tastes for smaller, more intimate cities in the 3 months of riding.
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Old 04-18-2013, 04:35 PM   #195
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pasto, colombia to cali, colombia

thursday, april 18, 2013

day two in colombia. i rode the panamerican highway from pasto to cali, colombia today. i apologize for the lack of photos. i think i've become entirely desensitized to natural beauty. i was riding past countless high-mountain vistas, and seemed to barely notice them. or possibly i'm so focused on getting to cartegena, colombia (my finish line), that i've lost the ability to "stop and smell the roses". either way, i'm not proud of it and i don't like it. yet, i seem powerless at the moment to resist this, regardless of my knowledge of what i see as an unfortunate trend.


pasto to cali by porkandcorn, on Flickr

or maybe it is because i was told by colombian immigration officers that they can only guarantee my safety on the panamerican between the hours of 8am to 4pm, and i had a 7 hour ride? apparently, during the late afternoon and night a host of unsavory characters and circumstances materialize, making the roads unsafe. colombia history is ripe with extreme violence, and although the country has taken a very positive turn for the better in the last decade, that bloody legacy remains near to the minds of colombia's people (and its visitors).


cyclists near popayan, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

there is a very, very strong military and police presence in colombian cities and roadways. motorcycle police on neon green bikes are peppered throughout the urban areas. soldiers in camouflage with machine guns are posted on either side of every major bridge on the panamerican - with sandbag barracks built nearby in case, presumably, things get interesting. the soldiers seem to love me and the bike. as i pass by checkpoints, i get enthusiastic thumbs-up from just about all of them. i even got a high-five today. they are especially happy when they find out i'm american for some reason. in colombia, "good guys" with machine guns is a good thing.

preparing for my time in medellín, i spent the 7-hour ride today listening to a audiobook version of "killing pablo," a reconstruction and re-telling of the rise and fall of pablo escobar, perhaps one of colombia's most famous and infamous citizens. the united states and colombian governments were at nothing less than all-out war with the powerful drug lord for a good portion of the 80's and 90's, and escobar's legacy and downfall is a major part of modern colombian history, as well as "la violencia" (mid-century upheaval and period of stark violence that preceded escobar's reign.) as i rode through regions and cities mentioned in the story, i had a different perspective on the lush green mountains that passed by. i plan to take the escobar 'cocaine tour' while in medellín, a well-publicized tourist attraction run by some of the remaining members of the escobar cartel, now peddling tourism instead of cocaine.


north of pasto, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

but so far i have enjoyed colombia. the people are very outgoing and very friendly. i have not felt unsafe, but i'm being cautious about the "where's" and "when's" of being here. tomorrow, i will likely head into the mountainous coffee region near the towns of salento and armenia to understand another big part of the colombian legacy.

maybe i'll feel like taking photos again?


snack shack, south of cali, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

porkandcorn screwed with this post 04-19-2013 at 09:50 AM
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