Marty took this photo of me riding through the mountains.
Back in the days of Central America I was doing a border crossing every few days. Having spent 3 weeks in Colombia, I was excited for a new country. Marty and I crossed the border with ease. I did have to change over some currency. I usually try to deplete my local currency before reaching the border but it didn’t work out this time so I had to change the equivalent of $35 USD. I negotiated with the money changer for a good rate and then when he punched it into his calculator I could see that the math wasn’t right. His calculator was rigged and he tried to scam me out of $7 USD. I found another money changer instead who didn’t scam me. All is good.
As we continue on we ride through gorgeous mountains laced with farm land that runs up each steep slope. It doesn’t take very long to arrive at La Mitad del Mundo (the Middle of the World) a.k.a. the equator. I’m finally in the southern hemisphere! We spent a few minutes taking some goofy equator pictures.
My GPS power cable broke in Mexico and I haven’t used the GPS since. I’ve really enjoyed riding with the GPS. I spend less time looking at my mileage, average speed, riding time, and location. I spend more time looking at the world around me and asking people for directions. Although, I had to pop in some batteries for a GPS on the equator picture. Close enough I’d say.
Onward towards Quito. Marty and I drop our bikes of with Diego, a mechanic I met through ADVrider. Diego’s offered to help us fix a few things on the bike and install my heated grips (Remembering those first few days in the cold rain and snow in the northeast USA, I’m so excited for some warm hands).
With the bikes safely stored in Diego’s garage, we catch a cab over to my friend Jess’ apartment. Jess lives in Quito and her Spanish is scary good. It’s great to see a familiar face and have a local guide for the city. For dinner she takes us to this street corner downtown that serves delicious street food every night. We stuff ourselves silly for $3 (ya, they use the US dollar down here for currency).
Her boyfriend Marcos meets up with us and takes us for a stroll through the old city. We take in the sights form the back of his pickup truck. The next morning we head to the mountains to take the cable car up to 4100 meters (~13,000 ft.) for a beautiful view over the city. It’s tough walking up at this altitude!
Probably the most beautiful panorama I’ve ever seen. Thanks, Marty.
Marty is 6’4” tall. He stands out down here… Marcos calls him the Gringoso or Gringo Monstroso. As the legend goes, the Gringo Monster eats Ecuadorian children. Here’s Marty scoping out his prey.
Back at Jess’ place it’s time for some laundry in the washing stone on the roof of her building.
Marty’s bike is ready and he takes Jess for her first ever motorcycle ride.
Charles eventually shows up that night. He tells us that his rear shock blew out riding the dirt roads from San Augustin. He’s basically riding an old Cadillac that bounces and bounces and has no dampening. He’s tired and we’re all ready for a beer. Here we are sitting on the street corner outside Jess’ place.
Marty departs early the next morning and Charles and I run some errands. Early afternoon I meet up with Diego and my bike is ready to go. Thanks for all the help, Diego!
With a fresh bike I took Marco for a ride around the neighborhood. Marcos, it’s time to buy a bike and ride north to the States!
Marcos then invited Charles and I too his family’s party. It’s the start of Carnival this weekend. Carnival is defined by music, drinking, pouring water on people, and spraying others with foam. It’s pretty amazing and we had a great time at the party.
Chowing down on Cuy (guinea pig) after getting splashed in the face with cornstarch.
Harassing the caged cuy. “I’m going to eat you!”
Gringo Monsters love to eat Ecuadorian children.
Hungover and sucking in diesel fumes made the next morning a challenge. Charles and I said goodbye to Jess and rode up to another Mitad del Mundo monument. Thank you Jess and Marcos for hosting us and showing us a wicked good time!
North vs. South.
More southern hemisphere adventures ahead. Stay tuned!