Changing landscape

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

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Flag of Ecuador  , Imbabura,
Thursday, December 6, 2012

We set off for our first day in Ecuador with waterproof coats on as it was really cold and we were heading downhill to start the day. As we coasted down the hill our fingers and toes were frozen but we were enjoying the easy cycling. We could see volcanoes in front of us, with cloud carpets below them. We soon descended from the lush, green, farmed hillside into a completely different landscape. We were back in the desert again surrounded by dry, red soil covered hills, with nothing but cactus on either side of the road.

We stopped for some lunch at a small restaurant by the side of the road and noticed the differences between the normal Ecuadorian lunch and the Colombian equivalent. The Ecuadorian one came with yoghurt, a roll with cheese, and a hot milky instant coffee, along with the same rice, chips, salad and fried eggs that we were used to. As we prepared to leave, a Californian guy arrived on a motorbike.  Although he was driving all the way from Texas to Buenos Aires, he was travelling really light and only had one duffel bag, with a bin-bag over it to keep it waterproof.

The road continued downhill for about another hour, and descended into a desert like valley. The air was hot, dry and dusty and it seemed crazy that the landscape had changed so much over only about 30km. Once we were in the valley we were blown by a strong wind, which gusted in all directions. It made the last part of our day a long and difficult affair, as we struggled to keep up a speed of 10km, even as we pedalled hard downhill. The dry dust was blowing hard and Kory and I looked like we had bad fake tans by the end of the day.

The road followed the river at the base of the valley and we were surrounded by dramatic scenery of mountains and volcanoes on either side. In one place we saw a team of workers who had taken over one lane of the road, to spread out their crop. They then drove over it slowly and as they applied the weight of their vehicle, a small red and white bean (similar to a kidney bean) was shaken from the plant and was ready to be picked up by another worker. It reminded us of
India, where we saw farmers using the same tactic but expected the traffic to drive over the crop and then they would run into the road to collect it.

We had been heading to a town called Salinas, which we knew nothing about but knew it was at the bottom of the hill climb to Ibarra. As we arrived into town we saw that it was a tiny little village, with about 50 houses and not much else. It did have a train station, and we noticed that the train that was leaving had some Western people on it. When we looked further we saw that there was a salt museum, and they held informational tours in the mornings. We cycled around town for a few minutes and found the one “hotel”, which was more like a spare room in a family house.

We chatted in the street to the owner for ages, and he seemed to enjoy learning about our trip, as his wife ran around and tidied up the room for us. The village was more like a ghost town and again there was hardly anyone around. As we checked in the owner said that he would provide dinner for us tonight and that he would call us when it was ready. The prospect of having dinner with the family was exciting but we were unsure about what was going to happen. At 7pm, the owner knocked on the door and took us upstairs to their dining room, where our dinner was ready for us on the table. The family then scarpered and left us to eat alone. It struck us as really unusual but I guess we should have expected it, because it has happened on our travels before. We sit there eating dinner, whilst the kids are banished to the bedrooms and the parents make themselves busy. It wasn’t quite the experience we were hoping for but we managed to convey that we were really grateful, as there were very little other options in the village. Their dining room was nicely decorated and had a Christmas tree and decorations.
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Grandma on

Sounds like a hard day cycling, with the cold, and then the dust. I'm sure you's were greatful for a nice meal, and a place to stay.

Karen on

I totally agree sounds like a hard day!

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