From beautiful Quito, we followed the road south deeper into the mountains.
The Bomberos stations in the Andean towns of Machachi and Ambato actually have guest books for cyclists and other travellers who pass through!
We had too much fun in Riobamba, a colonial city roughly 3000 metres above sea level. We were adopted by Diego and Juan in the city’s San Alfonso station. They were extremely keen in getting us to try out the firefighting gear (complete with oxygen tank!) and on taking us for a ride through town in the fire truck!
We went to the impressive outdoor market, cooked meals, and savored the cool (cold!) evenings. After a 3-day rest, we said “Oh yeah, we have a plane to catch!” and started hammering. We spent a magical day in the mountains before freefalling back down to sea level.
Let it be said that Ecuador grows a lot of bananas. At least the monotony helped our mileage. It feels like we just got to this amazing country, and we’re already at the Peruvian border. We hope we’ll have the chance to return some day.
Yesterday we learned that a couple of our fellow bike travellers, Seth and Parker, narrowly avoided being robbed on the highway just outside of Paijan, Peru, about a 4-day ride south from the border. For some years now, a group of thieves whose specialty is robbing bicycle tourists has been operating out of this small coastal town. And there’s no alternate route. The details of the horrible experience (which obviously could have been far worse, as both brothers escaped with their lives and their bikes) were harrowing – 4 masked men trying to run them off the road, busy traffic passing by as though nothing were happening. Nightmare!
For 11 months now, people have been telling us “You can’t ride there! You’ll get robbed / eaten / beheaded / kidnapped!!!” But for the first time in the trip, we’re actually going to bus through a place for safety reasons. There are limits to our folly, and we aim to complete this adventure, bikes and limbs intact, all the way to its end.
Onward to Peru!!!!