A new country

Trip Start Oct 16, 2012
Trip End Apr 20, 2013

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Flag of Ecuador  , Carchi,
Wednesday, December 5, 2012

This morning we were still tired but we actually managed to make it out of the hotel with bicycles all packed up and made our way to the border. We weren’t sure what the crossing would be like and I had visions of detailed searches of our possessions; we are coming from Colombia after all.  In reality it was fair less thorough. We cycled to the customs office on the Colombian side of the border and joined the long queue.  Then without saying a word to us they took our passports and stamped us out of the country.  We then did the same on the Ecuadorian side, 500m down the road; without any questions they stamped us into the country and gave us visas for four months of travel. Easy, but because each country only had two women working it took about an hour to queue up on each side.

Once we had cycled for twenty minutes or so into Ecuador, we arrived into Tulcan and thought it was time for some lunch. We found a place selling Empanadas, which happened to be the first thing that we ate in Colombia too, when we first arrived. They were substantially better than the Colombian ones, although they were still deep fried and not huge but we managed to put a few away. We decided to continue on for a bit longer along the road into Ecuador and make the most of the good weather before calling it a day.
As soon as we made our way to the other side of town we saw that we had a bit of a hill climb before making a descent. We made our way up the hill for an hour or so, and I began to feel the
effects of being at a high altitude. I was wheezing like an 80 year old asthmatic, but knew that it would improve as soon as we got over the ridge.  The town of Tulcan had been at 3000m, so we knew that at the top of the climb we would be at around 3500-3800m, so getting a bit out of breath was to be expected.  Once we were at the top, we coasted downhill for about half an hour, and immediately I felt better, as I was no longer working hard to get up the hill and also we were losing elevation. 

We arrived into a small town but thought it was the only option within about another hour, so started looking for somewhere to stay.  The town was really quiet compared to similar places in Colombia and there was hardly anyone to be seen in the square. We cycled around for a few minutes and found a hotel that we could stay in, which again, had great facilities. We tried our first Ecuadorian dinner in the evening, which was in the only restaurant that we could find. The only thing on the menu was roasted chicken with rice and chips and when it arrived, it was half a huge chicken per person. It was accompanied by some soup, which was a watery broth, with the chicken legs left in; it was pretty basic, and quite frankly horrible.

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