Finally free! Free of the desert that covers most of the Pacific coast from Northern Chile almost to Ecuador. Since I’d stuck to the main roads, that was pretty much what I had been riding through, so going up into the lush mountains of Ecuador was more than just a nice change- it was a complete change of environment that along with my healing leg meant I could go back to the kind of riding I love. Except that I really did have to keep riding at a good clip. My injury and trip home had put me behind where I wanted to be, so instead of relaxing my way through the country, I would be putting in the miles.
That being said, I still had a wonderful time. A couple of hours past the charming little border crossing (no, I doubt you’ll ever hear that again!), the road really started to rise into the hills and the views (not to mention the riding!) were jaw dropping.
Oh, and you see that little dirt road to the left? Yes! finally, I was willing and able to get some gravel time in. It was just rough enough to be fun without pushing me too hard- winding down into the valley to a small hamlet where I turned around and rode back up. I knew I still wasn’t 100%, but the road was just enough to prove that I was back on the horse and didn’t need training wheels anymore.
The day finished in a great little flyspeck of a town where I was able to find a nice place to stay beside a trucker bar/restaurant- guaranteed good traditional food at good prices. It was the first time in ages that I had really relished a day on the road and I couldn’t wait to see what the next day would bring.
What it brought was more of the same- without ever getting old. High mountain pastures with almost sheer drops down through the clouds.
And more friendly little towns. The day after was a city day in Cuenca– an lovely Unesco heritage city that manages to be touristy without being crass.
But, the next day I had to move on. Again. I was really starting to want more of this wonderful little country, but every extra day would have to come from somewhere… So on I rode.
Through more wonderful countryside, through the beautiful capital of Quito, and past sleeping volcanoes.
There have only been a couple of places that I felt I really didn’t do justice to- that I left not just wanting to see more, but knowing I’d seen less than I should. My short list of ‘must visit again’ places had most certainly received another entry.