A great day!

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

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Flag of Ecuador  , Guayas,
Monday, December 17, 2012

Today was a great day, it was one of those days that we cycle tour for. It wasn't for the four hour slog up a huge hill, that was the start of our day. It also wasn't for the distinct lack of food that we ate all day. It wasn't for us cycling for seven hours over the day and barely finding somewhere to sleep before it got dark but it was still a great day.

We headed off as usual at around 8.30am. Over the first couple of hours we tackled a fairly steady climb uphill, to a tiny village. Along the way we passed through a few small hamlets with one or two houses, but it was mainly farmland that surrounded us. I noticed that the locals looked poorer, and had blankets tied around their shoulders rather than jackets. When we arrived into the small village we looked for some food, before finishing off the big climb for the day.  We found a place opposite the bus station that had a whole pig roasting outside; much of which had already been eaten but she had plenty left for us. We have seen them a few times in Ecuador but have never had the opportunity to try it, so we ordered two plates, with potatoes and a corn that kind of looked like boiled sweetcorn but didn't taste as good. The roasted pork tasted good and she had a tasty sauce on the potatoes, but it wasn't a huge amount of food for two hungry cyclists.

As we headed off again we came to the junction where we needed to turn off towards the coast, but saw that there was a sign up saying “via cerrada”. That isn't good, we don't want the road to be closed, we need to make our way down to the coast for a Christmas beach stop. Thankfully a lorry driver pulled over and shouted out the window that it would be fine for us to take the road and that we would get through. At least, that is what we thought that he said. The worst thing would be to make our way up the remainder of the hill and part way down the other side, only to be turned around. We decided to try it anyway, as there was a little bit of traffic going that way and the lorry driver seemed confident that we would be able to make it through; who would turn two weary looking cyclists back up the hill anyway?

We plodded on up the hill, which lasted for another couple of hours.  We cycled passed lots of shepherds, who were sat watching about 10 sheep each; which seemed like a lonely existence, as they sat there being blasted by the cold wind from every direction. There were also lots of tiny wooden shack buildings on the hillside, where the peasants slept after their long day on the hillside. Men and women were sat beside their flock of sheep, watching them graze and most of them gave us a wave as we cycle along, which was probably the most entertainment they have seen for a while.

As we neared the top, we had a brilliant view of a huge, snow capped volcano that sits at 6300m and we couldn't resist stopping a few times to take photos. We had climbed to almost 4000m above sea level, so the air was crisp and the wind was picking up. The scenery was amazing but it seemed like quite a miserable existence for the many peasants that we passed, in their tiny one room, wooden houses, with no windows or heating.

Once we were at the top, we were pretty happy to start our long descent into the valley on the other side. Thankfully the wind had died down once we had descended a short way down the road, and as the road was officially closed we had it almost to ourselves. As we whizzed down the switchbacks we continued to observe the hillside living, which was similar to on the other side of the hill. This time though we were taking it all in much faster. This side of the hill was much more lush and green, and appeared to receive a lot more rainfall than the comparably dry and barren landscape that we had seen during the morning. There were a couple of small villages but mainly there were only tiny farm shacks perched precariously on the hillside, with long, steep, dusty tracks to get to them. We doubted that the residents made the long journey down to the road very often.

Towards the end of the day, we came to some roadworks, where a couple of guys were restoring a bridge, which had a broken railing. There was plenty of room for us to cross, in fact there was enough room for a bus to get across but they had closed the road off for 100km.  Which was great for us, because we took each corner wide and cycled like we owned the road! We were both quite relieved to see that the construction wasn't going to hinder us and that we weren't going to be turned around again to slog back up the huge mountain.

As the climb to the ridge had taken us until 2.30pm, the day was beginning to draw to a close and we hadn't even finished the long descent. We had cycled 35km to get to the top and the downhill had taken us a further whooping 85km, and was still going. Although we would've loved to have continued our downhill streak we had to call it a day before the light completely left us. We both fancied camping, so looked out for a good spot, whilst the sun set over the river valley, which was beautiful. The problem was that the valley was quite steep and dropped sharply down to the river, and any land that was remotely flat had a house or crops on it. Therefore at 6.30pm we pulled into a dodgy looking motel, which was the only accommodation that we had seen all afternoon. It was perfectly fine of course, but in these parts of the world, we have learnt that motel means “room to rent by the hour”, therefore we have avoided them.
So we checked into our room, (which was thankfully very clean), with the heart shaped mirror above the bed and romantic music already playing, and tried not to think about it, as we flopped onto the bed exhausted. Kory cooked us up some rice and tuna, as there were no restaurants around and we devoured it as we had barely eaten much food all day.

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