To Ecuador!

On June 6, 2013

Leaving Popayán, I went the scenic route on the most unforgettable road. The first stop was San Augustine where there was a plethora of ancient ruins. They were all burial grounds with beautiful statues. I love the artistic style. The surrounding mountains were majestic with waterfalls cascading down most sides.

I left San Augustine midday after touring the park. I ended up on a dirt road snaking its way up the Andes. The switchbacks had switchbacks and I was in first or second gear the entire way up and eventually down. The road construction in the beginning left a three inch layer of the nastiest mud I’ve seen. There were numerous waterfalls that were routed over the road rather than building a bridge. I popped Norton into first gear and lowered through them, lifting up my legs to avoid the spray. Im sure it was a comical sight. The deepest one covered my entire front wheel. The trick was to keep the engine going under water and balance on the huge loose rocks under the water while the current tried to tip me over. The road itself was single lane with a few pullouts on the edge of a cliff most of the time. Moving in and out of the clouds added to the mystique while giving way to dramatic valleys and lowlands. I was too slow with my camera most of the time. Construction crews were installing guardrails near the very top, leaving just some caution tape to protect any would-be falls. It took much, much longer than expected to navigate this treacherous yet amazing road, leaving me an hour of driving it in the dark. Norton’s headlight leaves a lot to be desired and the river crossings were even harder in the dark where I couldn’t see how deep or how wide the river was. The only warning was the sound of water. Hands down, the most fun, terrifying, and beautiful stretch of road I’ve been on in Colombia.

After over 2000 km in Colombia, Norton and I crossed into Ecuador. Then we went back to Colombia because we missed our exit stamp. It was pretty easy to get Norton across, I just needed copies of all my documents and still need to go buy insurance somewhere. The first stretch of Ecuador was extremely beautiful and I’m looking forward to seeing the beach, mountains, and rainforest here! Ecuador uses the US dollar as currency, supplementing the coins with identically sized ones. This means they can’t print more money to get out of debt. They’d have to mint tons of Ecuadorian copycat coins. This is the place that all of our one-dollar gold coins are actually used. It is very strange having a wallet full of dollars again, and has definitely made me reconsider what I think of money. Up until now it seemed that I was using play money. Now i know the actual cost of every purchase. 75 cents for that delicious street kabob. Way more than Bolivia, but cheap by Seattle or Lincoln standards.

I’m extremely glad to be on two wheels again. Traveling like this is epic. I dont think I will travel abroad without my own transportation again. Recently I was thinking of my connections to the countries here in South America. Argentina is my favorite because of my connection with Routa 40 and the amazing desert landscapes. I truly got in the rhythm in Argentina. And don’t forget Fitz Roy, the lakes district, awesome accent, and the amazing people. Chile was definitely my favorite country because of the amazing bread and the Caraterra Austral snaking through meadows, mountains, glaciers, and lakes. I still smile thinking about the hot, fresh bread straight from the wood stove in a cabin by the fire while its raining in the forest on the mountains outside the window. Bolivia stole my heart with it’s wide open spaces, high elevation, otherworldly scenery, and hardy people. I was amazed that even after I climbed past 4000 meters there was always a house and small farm at the top the pass where I thought no humans could live. The markets were lively and colorful. Sleeping in the middle of nowhere at elevation was exhilarating and unforgettable. Colombia is my favorite. It was beyond describable how nice and beautiful the people were. The mountains, rivers, wildlife, and roads that wound through them could bring no greater joy and no bigger smile on my face. I can’t wait to see Ecuador and Peru, yet am sad that my trip will end so soon. South America stole my heart. I am already planning a few trips to cone back here.

Whew, this was a long one. If you made it through my endless thoughts, congrats.

5 Responses to “To Ecuador!”

  • Long post but so good! Amazing!

  • Norton doesn’t go on planes. And I won’t give up Norton. Ever. Seattle bound!!!

  • This is a comment to a comment….does the above mean that you’re thinking about driving back or shipping Norton or something? Fun-ness. 🙂

    • I wish… I just plan on not giving up Norton until the last second. My friend sold his moto in Loma so I have some pointers.

    • Doesn’t mean I won’t get Norton II in Seattle though. After I put together Che and get a fat bike for Iceland.

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