A couple of wrong turns

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

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Flag of Ecuador  , Pichincha,
Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Kory was still feeling pretty weak but we both wanted to move on, so we had a slower start to the day and set off around 10.30am. We made our way out of Otavalo, along the valley, which soon provided us with gorgeous views of a lake, surrounded by mountains. Then the road veered away from the lake and headed up to the mountain pass, which was our main climb for the day. In total, it took about an hour to slowly plod up to the pass, which wasn't too bad but Kory was havinga tough time with a lack of energy. Once we made it to the top, we were at around 3500m, and there were a couple of restaurants there, so we stopped for a drink. We were surrounded by huge mountains, of 4500m or more, and the weather was cool, so we wrapped up in our jumpers and waterproof coats again.

Once we had our drinks, the road immediately descended into Cayambe, and we coasted down the road for about half an hour. At Cayambe, we re-evaluated how we were getting on, and Kory said he was happy to keep pushing on towards Quito. Once we get there, we can have another rest day or two, and we hoped to make it in two days of cycling from Otavalo.

As we cycled through Cayambe we followed the signs for Quito, and it was only much later (almost a week) that we realised that we had actually deviated from the Pan-American at this point, and left town on a completely different highway that was destined for the capital city. Thankfully the road was still good and it joined up with the main highway about 40km later. However, it did mean that we missed all the signs/monuments that acknowledged that we were crossing the equator, which was a real shame, as we had been looking forward to seeing them. So, we continued onwards, always looking out for something that said we were entering the Southern Hemisphere, as we knew that it was before we got to the town of Guayllabamba.

The road descended down, down, down and before we knew it we were back in the red soiled desert again, surrounded by cactus. On the higher ground, we had seen numerous greenhouses, which the lonely planet informs us are filled with flowers, mainly roses that are exported predominantly to the USA. On the lower grounds we have seen a few sugar plantations over the past couple of cycling days; with sugar cane growing tall next to the road.

As we coasted down the road I whizzed past a sign that said the town was straight on; great, we should be almost there, in the next 5km or so. The road snaked its way up another hill, which took us about half an hour to coax our tired legs to haul us over. The surroundings here were barren to say the least; it was absolutely desolate and it wouldn't have seemed out of place if vultures started to circle above us. We soon realised that we must've taken a wrong turn at the bottom of the hill; as there were no cars on the roads, no houses or people to be seen and absolutely nothing growing in the desert landscape. We wished that the couple of cars that did pass us would've pulled over and told us that we were cycling into the middle of nowhere. At this point, we decided that we would freedom camp somewhere, after all, we are carrying a tent and camping gear for this very reason. Once we turned around and started heading back to the first road, we saw Guayllabamba in the distance and we could've made it there for the night but we had it in our minds to camp by this point.

There was a petrol station at the intersection, so we grabbed a couple of goodies and found a place to hide by the river. Our camping spot was fairly close to the road but it was well hidden down a little track, and we doubted that anyone would be very interested in two sweaty cyclists anyway. As we set the tent up, we made a simple dinner and settled in for an early night, after what turned out to be an eventful day. Thankfully Kory was beginning to feel much better and his appetite was returning, which was great because we knew that we had a long climb ahead of us to get to Quito the next day.
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Gjrandma on

Sounds like you's made alot of extra miles. But at least you found your way to
another city. Probably takes alot of cuddling to stay warm in the tent, eh!!!!!
Let us know how you's celebrated Xmas, the traditions.... Did you's have Turkey and all the trimmings?? Anyhow, Merry Xmas to both of you's, I'm sure it will be different, so many miles away.. Love and hugs..... miles away....

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