Posts tagged “Ecuador

Good Luck and Bad Luck

We started a long leg in Banos and were riding through the mountains passing the snow covered Chimborazo to Loja. We staid on the Panamericana which is really a nice winding road here and is quite some fun. So we were driving for hours through the mountains until it happened: This day it was Michaels turn to lead and he passed a bridge. Almost invisible there was a speed bump at the end of the bridge. Michael saw it almost too late and did a full break to avoid flying over the bump. Unfortunately Carmen did not see the bump and hence she was totally surprised by Michael hitting the breaks. She managed to break, but it was already too late. She crashed into Michaels left pannier with about 40 miles per hour. Michaels left and Carmens right pannier were ripped off the bikes and fell to the ground. Both of us were sliding on the tarmac for a few meters, but fortunately came to a stop rather quickly. Michaels foot was jammed underneath his bike, but Carmen managed to lift the bike a bit and Michael could free his foot. After a brief check we realized that we were not really hurt. Fortunately we always wear our motorcycle gear. The bikes themselves were not really damaged either, but the panniers and Carmens tank bag were pretty damaged. The panniers were bent and the mounting was partly ripped off the bike. After a quick repair, we were able to attach the panniers temporarily and could continue to Loja.

Carmen's pannier after the crash

After arriving in Loja we checked into a nice hostel in the center of the town and started to think about our options. Our first idea was to buy new panniers. We indeed found some in the evening for “just” US$ 240. That was definitely too much and we were thinking about reducing our luggage to continue with just two panniers. We did not really like that option either, so we went to a mechanic the next day and asked him to repair our panniers. The mechanic was not exactly great but at least he managed to repair the panniers so that we could attach them to the bikes again. They are not really water proof anymore, but we have enough of plastic bags. 🙂 Besides we asked the mechanic to drill holes into the panniers, so that the water can flow out at least.

After this little delay we continued to Peru on the next morning. On our way we were stopped by a military control. The soldiers however were very nice and took pictures of us after checking our papers.

Crossing the border was quite unspectacular: The process was very easy, but took again about 2 hours. In the first bigger city after the border, we were looking for a cheap hotel including parking lots. After some desperate search, a local guy, Felipe, and his family approached us. Felipe could speak german very well, since he lived in Germany for six months and helped us finding a cheap hotel directly in the center of the town. After checking in, we went to dinner with Felipe, his wife and his two sons. We could not have imagined a more heartly welcome to Peru!

Posted by: michasifi and carmen.on.the.road

A journey to the center of the Earth

After a little technical check of our bikes and a small repair (Michael’s clutch wire was almost broken) we continued our voyage heading south. We wanted to go easy for now and therefore staid on the Panamericana for a little while. In the nice little town Otavalo we stopped to visit the local market. Then we continued heading to the equator. In Cayambe we finally did it: We crossed the equator and entered the southern hemisphere, a big milestone of our journey. Of course we took a couple of pictures at the Mitad del Mundo (center of the world) statue.

There is even a kind of theme park about the equator near quito, which we also visited. For US$ 2 entry fee you can visit restaurants, cafes, a huge equator monument and an equator museum. But for us the park is a little bit too touristic and therefore we just drove on.

In the afternoon the weather was getting worse and it started to rain. Besides we were riding higher and higher into the mountains and started freezing again since a long time. But in spite of the bad weather we still could see the summit of the Cotopaxi pretty clear, a nice compensation for all the rough going. But we are not really used to cold weather anymore and hence we checked into the next hotel in Latacunga.

Near Latacunga there is another highlight of Ecuador: the Laguna Quilotoa. According to our guide book there should be a dirt road to the laguna. So we prepared for driving a 30km gravel road. To our surprise we arrived at one of the best tarmac mountain roads so far which led directly to the laguna. Riding this winding road was much fun and led us to our highest altitude of 4012m. Although we were a little bit unlucky with the weather, we were still impressed by the view at the laguna. Rain water which was accumulating in the crater of the Quilotoa volcano created this nice laguna. According to the sun light the water changes it’s color from turquoise to green and even black.

After this highlight we hit rock bottom: On our way back to the valley it rained cats and dogs and sometimes it was even sowing. The landscape started to turn white due to the snow. We had our cold weather gear deep in our panniers and were too lazy to get it out. So we were driving cold and completely wet to Banos, a little, marvelous town in which we staid for the night.

Posted by: michasifi and carmen.on.the.road

A special offroad experience

According to Google the ride from Medellin to Cali should take more than 8 hours. So we got up early at 6am and left Medellin. Actually we wanted to follow the Panamericana, but Carmen took the wrong turn and so we found a very beautiful, winding mountain road, the same road which we took with the truck at night to Medellin. This time however we were a little bit faster. 😉 We made a short break at our last hotel in Supia, in order to take care of our second set of parts which should arrive here from California. After some more kilometers on marvelous roads we arrived in the afternoon in Cali. We staid at hostel Casa Blanca, which is owned by an enthusiastic biker and has seen many motorcycle travelers in the last recent years. Here we also met Jesper, whom we got to know during our sailing trip crossing the Darien Gap. We spent the evening together with some nice chinese food and some good wine.

Since we spent more time than planned in Columbia, we wanted to continue to Ecuador as soon as possible. We just made one stop in Pasto before we continued to the border. On our way to the border we visited the Las Lajas church near Ipiales, which is built on a kind of bridge crossing a canyon.

After a few kilometers we arrived at the border. Immigration to Ecuador was pretty easy but took 2 hours because of the rush. With the stamp in our passport and the import papers in our hands we continued on the Panamericana, but only for a few kilometers. Then we chose a nice dirt road heading El Angel. Most of the road consisted of stones and dirt, but some parts were quite muddy as well. The ride was awesome, but the muddy parts were pretty difficult. Therefore each of us dropped his bike at least once. Carmen’s drops were quite unspectacular, but her right turn light and her tank bag were damaged.

Later Michael decided to park his bike in a moat and unfortunately he was not able to get it out again on his own. Unfortunately Carmen did not recognize Michael’s little accident and continued to ride. Later when she stopped for taking some pictures, she realized that somebody is missing and tried to turn back, but unfortunately she drop her bike while turning and was not able to pick it up again. In the meantime Michael was shouting for Carmen but without any success. So he started to walk into Carmen’s direction. Carmen herself also started to walk back and so both of us met somewhere in the middle. First we picked up Carmen’s bike and then Carmen drove and Michael walked back to his BMW.

We tried to get the bike back on the road just with our own muscle power, but without success. Then we tied Michael’s bike to Carmen’s bike using a rope, but the rope broke. In the third attempt we used the ‘Rock Straps’ and indeed we could pull half of Michael’s bike back on the road and then even the rock straps broke. Fortunately we now managed to pull the bike back on the road manually and we could continue our ride through the impressive landscape to El Angel.

From El Angel we took a turn to the Panamericana heading to Otavalo. Actually we planned to spend the night there, but since it was already quite late, we decided to stay in a hotel in Valle de Chota.

Posted by: michasifi and carmen.on.the.road