Thursday, January 7, 2010

Otavalo - Quito, Ecuador

Scene just after the border crossing into Ecuador

A volcano looming over Otavalo

Ernesto, Anna and his daughter's friend Ximena.

Julie a real trooper, went for a small hike despite not being able to keep her eyes open!
Jan. 5-7 2010.
Trip: 350km to Otavalo from Ipiales, Colombia
Ecuador Currency: USD
Hotel: $25
Fuel: $1.48/Gal
Hostal in Quito: $16
The border crossing between Colombia and Ecuador was a breeze and we were through in little more than an hour and a half. The mountanous terrain did not cease and we were continuosly at elevations between 2600m-3400m. The air was chilly despite the fact we had sunny skies and great weather. We passed a digital billboard which read 19 deg C in a warm valley.
It was getting close to 3:30Pm with approximately a 100km to go before Quito (the capital city). I saw a sign for Otavalo, a popular tourist destination in the mountains with 3 beautiful lakes at the base of their respective volcanos. We found a hotel near the center of the small city (no building greater than 3 stories) and headed out walking. Immediately we came across yet another festival. I have no idea what it was all about, however, every person in the town was there. Some dudes dressed up as women ran around the square, some wearing blonde wigs, this apparently signaled the end of the parade and the towns people dispersed.
Julie and I headed out for supper and afterward began heading back to our hotel. As we were rounding a street corner heading to the next block, a couple passed us. The girl glanced back at us (most likely because we were talking english) and I immediately recognised her as Raphie Laubman from Calgary. I had stayed at her and my friend Vinny's house several times and now here on a street corner there she was. It was so odd! What could be the chances of this happening? One second more paying the bill at the restaurant and we would have missed each other completely. The motorcycle ride in itself is showing us how small the world really is but now, meeting a friend on a corner...thats over the top.
Julie began feeling ill in the middle of the night. I was dead asleep and didn't notice that she was up half the night hanging out in the bathroom up chucking supper. I awoke when she came back to bed and realised what was going on.

In the morning Julie was feeling not much better. We went for breakfast in a small cafe restaurant and drank coffee with soured milk. I figured it was curdling in the coffee because it was un pasturized but Julie's nose indicated that it was bad. I drank mine anyhow. There were 4 other people in the place besides the staff and no one else was complaining.
We checked out of our hotel and took off on the loaded bike up a cobble stone road toward a beautiful waterfall. Julie laid down on the grass and took a break along side the river below the waterfall. After some time we returned to the bike and ran into the same folks that were at the restaurant we ate at 4 hours prior. Here we met Ernesto, Anna & Ximena. Ernesto insisted we meet him for lunch at 2Pm. We agreed and were treated to a lovely meal which was completely picked out for us by Ernesto. We sampled a few of the local dishes, fruits, and fruit beverages. It was an excellent meal and we enjoyed the hospitality of our new friends.
It was getting late in the day and we convinced Ernesto that we had to leave in order to make it to Quito before night fall. We mounted the KLR and off we went high in the mountains. The entire ride was well over 2700 meters and the bike was feeling the lack of Oxygen. It sputtered and barely made it over 80 km/h on most hill climbs.
We had planned on staying at a Hostal we had researched but it quicky became apparent that there was no way we were going to find it unless we hired a cab to follow again. We followed some signage to Old Quito, the historic centre. We found a great Hostal which agreed to let my bike into the front lobby. I went out to get bottled water and a small pizza to bring back to the room and bunked down for the night. Julie is not feeling well this evening so we will see what we get up to tomorrow. I have a friend here in Quito who I did my (EMT) Paramedic training with in Edmonton, we'll try to hook up with her tomorrow and maybe go to the ecuatorial centre of the Earth.


  1. Hope your feeling better quickly Julie. I have a friend (well actually Chris's friend) who just left Ecuador yesterday. Apparently it's very beautiful...he has taken 2000 pictures :) But then many places you've been, have been very beutiful. Take Care and enjoy!

  2. Get well soon Julie. Congrats by the way guys.... great news. Keep the pictures and stories coming.... enjoying everyone of them! M&D

  3. Sorry you are feeling shitty pun intended. by the way YEAH!!!!!!!!!!!!