Archive for the ‘Ecuador’ Category

Ecuador border to Peru

Posted: August 29, 2011 in Ecuador

I haven’t posted in a while since I have been riding all over Peru for about a month now and internet here has been non existent in hostels (at least the cheap ones I stay in) while internet cafes use dial-up I think and therefore uploading pictures has been impossible. I am almost done with Peru and here I am posting about the end of Ecuador…

Here are some costal pics I haven’t posted:

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So from the coast, I made it back to Quito through the mountain range as I wrote in my last post and from Quito back down towards Peru through the Amazon side.

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Waterfalls everywhere! Sometimes a few minutes of riding apart

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And the vegetation changes dramatically

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A bit dirty… even though the amazon side is mainly paved, there is a 25km portion of road still in progress.

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I met this old fellow in Macas. He had been living there his whole life… 80 some years.

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Then I saw these guys riding on the side of the road. The garbage cans on the side of the bike are ingenious! The girl is from Germany while the guy is from the USA. I totally forgot their names though! 😦 I think the guy is John or Joe? They both knew Kass pretty well too.

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I thought this was pretty cool… 2 rivers mixing

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I made it to Loja. From here I had a few choices on to which border to cross. Without knowing exactly where I was going I headed south on that road with an end showing way before the border. I also bought a new front tire (Duro brand) for 40$ as my front had 0 thread left. Turns out the new tire came in really handy with it’s aggressive off road thread as the road turned to all kinds of unpaved stuff after a few km south.

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River crossing

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More and more water falls…

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Some washed off hills that looked cool

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I met these guys on the way and we had lunch. They were my “rescue” truck as they drove behind me a big part of the way. They also found me a welder as for the millionth time a couple more welds broke on the pannier holders. The only welds that really held good and still holding are the ones from Santiago!

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In the town where I did the welding, the hostels were all sold out because of some elections. So I had to head to the next one but it was getting a bit late. Then I came across this… landslides, mud, long waits, big trucks…

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Here they made me wait for about a half an hour. Lucky me there was a police car that came on the other side of the slide, so they cleaned it up a bit faster to let him pass. If it wasn’t for the police car, I would have probably had to camp there for the night.

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You can see the road on the left

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I passed that town at the bottom but no place to sleep there. I did end up making it to a town with hotels about 30 minutes after dark. Those last 30 minutes on a dirt road in the dark felt like 30 hours though.

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And if you continue south on the road that doesn’t even exist on google maps, you end up at this small border. They do have immigration on both sides so you can do your bike paperwork and they will even stamp your passport. When I got there, they haven’t had phone communication for almost a week though, and even less internet so they were just writing down all the info into their computers on a spreadsheet. Finding a working photocopier for all the paperwork also took me almost an hour. The officials were really nice on both sides though. Also, if you exchange your dollars for Peru Soles on the Ecuador side, you will get a MUCH better exchange rate. I got an exchange rate of 2.8 to 1 which was better than online.

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The immigration office on the Peru side. Super high tech!

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Welcome to Peru! And what an adventure Peru has been…

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So which one is it?

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Ecuador Coast

Posted: July 25, 2011 in Ecuador

I made it to Quito and spent the night there but I just realized that I didn’t upload all the pictures yet and therefore I will post them later. From Quito, I headed over to the coast (Esmeraldas) and did all the coast in a couple of weeks. Here’s some pics…

On the way, I passed some mountains with tropical and sub tropical vegetation. Really cool views but quite a bit of rain.

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From Esmeraldas, where I spent only the night cause it’s quite a shit hole, I headed down the coast. Right by the town, I entered a road that was showing on my GPS and was guarded by military. Everyone had to check in with ID but I was just waved by. It seemed a bit strange to have all this security, but then I passed this on the road… an oil rafinery and other oil processing installations. I was passing then just a few feet away. On the way out, the military once again just waved me by. I guess that as long as you’re a gringo, you could go in there with a motorcycle filled with explosives and you’d just get waved by.

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The Ecuadorian coast

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And part of the mud road

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Some really nice people I met in a town

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A ferry that goes onto a small island where I spent a couple of nights

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And more coast

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The vegetation on the coast changes dramatically and constantly. Some places it’s deserted and others you find lots of vegetation. Here, I found some cool looking trees.

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My camping spot in Montanita. If any of you are budget travelers, you can camp in Montanita on road going right just after the bridge. Camping is 1.50$ a night and you have access to a kitchen, showers and bathrooms.

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I have been hearing a ticking noise in my engine that was getting really bad. It sounded like the valves were going crazy and also the bike had no power. I thought I’d get the valve clearance checked in Guayaquil where I found this small shop. The place itself didn’t look like mutch, but the mechanic was really good. He knew his bikes in and out as he’s been working on them all his life. We took the motor apart and the valve clearance was as good as new. Not bad at 25000 km.

We also changed the chain and the spark plug. The chain had started clicking pretty bad so it didn’t have much time left. I had been carrying a spare all the way from Canada so changing it only took a few minutes. It lasted 25k km which is pretty normal. I’m actually surprised with how long it lasted as I’m really bad at lubing it. I do it probably at an average of 2k-3k km. The spark plug was good but it was showing some crazy heat cycles. The mechanic said that it looks like I’m making use of all the HP the bike has to offer…

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From the coast, I headed back to Quito through the mountain range. Basically, a few hundred KM on mountains, mountains and more mountains. Amazing views, some rain and lots of cold.

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That’s the road on the right

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Posted: July 23, 2011 in Ecuador

Bike all fixed up, I’m making my way south. I’m riding down to Quito, the capital of Ecuador, and then hitting the coast as I haven’t seen the ocean and haven’t felt much warmth in a while.

On the way, this is the kind of scenery I see.

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And a few hours down, I get to the middle of the earth. The actual equator line. But somehow I can’t get a 0.0.0 reading on the GPS.

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I quickly find out that this is the old park and that the new one with the real 0.0.0 is a few meters down the road.

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Here we go

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Right before the 0 line, I stopped at a restaurant for some cheese and coffee. The owner there told me about a small town near by where I could find hot springs and local indigenous people living. He said it’s close by… as in 30 min or so. It took me 30 min to get to this small town in the picture, but from here another hour in cold and rain to get to the one he was talking about. If you want town names and locations BTW, just click on the images and you’ll get a little map in flicker showing you where the images were taken.

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All worth it though. The springs were amazing and the town super nice and quiet.

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The hostel owner’s son had this guy as a pet. And BTW, there are no signs for the hostel, you have to ask around. You’ll get pointed to a nice newly built wooden house.

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The road you gotta take to get to the town

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And the views… at over 3000m altitude.

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On the way back, there was a show put on by different schools. Kids, men and women wearing cultural clothing and dancing

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Quito coming up soon…

The border crossing was really easy. Hand in the temporary import visa for the bike on the Colombian side, get an exit stamp, then get an entry stamp on the Ecuador side and another temporary import visa for the bike for 90 days. All Free! It seems that in South America the borders are a lot more civilized and organized than in Central America.

So I start riding and I’m happy to get away from the border. I’m doing about 80-100km/h on a nice wide road when all of a sudden I see a taxi pulling in front of me from the other side of the road to turn around. I don’t even have time to push the horn as I try not to T-bone the fukr and just when I think I might get around the front of the car he accelerates even more and hits the back of my bike. From then on, I remember the bike losing control and me sliding along with it for a few hundred feet. Cars stop on the road, I get right back up and look back just to see the taxi slowly taking away. I start yelling TAXI TAXI but noone follows him. People are yelling too but no action is taken. Luckly one guy writes down the plate number of the cab.

Within about a minute, a police guy arrives on a suzuki motorcycle and immediately after another one on a KLR 650. Within about 2 minutes, the ambulance arrives and a paramedic runs out to see me. He asks me if I’m ok. I check myself since I have the adrenaline pumping and wouldn’t know if I had anything broken. Not a single scratch! I check my breathing for my lungs and ribs, everything is fine. Once again, all my gear did it’s work. Money well spent! I think my jacket is up to about 8 crashes in the past 8 years now.

More police show up but this time with a 4X4 truck and help me load the bike into it. They drive me up to a shop where they have their own KLRs and other police bikes fixed. They also call in the plate right away for the cab driver, but with probably about 1000 cabs in that town good luck finding it. I check in at a hotel close to the bike shop for 8$ a night an go check on the damage after I check over some of my stuff as my rear pelican case opened up during the crash along with my left pannier that literally changed shape. The biggest damage was one my camera that slid along with the bike and the zoom lens fitting part broke. So I am now down to 2 lenses, the 28mm and 50mm lenses without a variable zoom or Image Stabilization. Pictures wont look as good in the future 😀

So back to the shop I go to check the bike.

Here’s a picture of the bike at the scene of the accident. Hart to tell but the left side pannier is on the right side, the pannier holder is pushed way in, and the front rim has about half the spokes broken and it’s also cracked.

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At the shop, the bike is kept outside as it’s a really small shop.

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Old aluminum rim

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New steel rim. Same Japanese brand as the old one but with about twice the weight and twice the strength. Cost for the new rim, 60$. He also had another one made in China for 20$, but not much good comes out of that country so I went for the Japanese one.

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Getting the broken and bent spokes out

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Re-spoking the new rim

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The Shop doing the work

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Adjusting the spokes

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1 Shiney new chrome rim! We also changed the oil in the mean time. Cost of total labor 10$. Rim: 60$. 3L of oil 15$ But the bike was once again rideable.

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Here’s what the pannier looked like.

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But the next day after MUCH MUCH asking and searching, I found these guys that were metal professionals. They build their own mufflers, tables… stuff like that along with creating new parts if needed. They worked for probably 2 hours on getting the pannier back to normal shape and rebending the pannier holder. Funny thing is that ALL the welds from Santiago held strong! I think the subframe will bend before those welds break! So labor cost for the metal work, another 10$

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Here is Louis. He is the first officer to arrive on the scene of the accident. He came to check on me the next day. Also to tell me that they didn’t find the cab driver. He said that the cab driver is probably hiding the cab somewhere. Either way, I didn’t have time to go through the cab driver’s insurance so it was just easier to pay the 100$ or so in repairs and keep going. I would have loved to find the driver just to show him my fist in his face for driving off.

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Here’s also a pic of the police KLRs. Mine still looks better! 😉

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So due to the accident, I lost 2 days in that border town, about 100$ but luckly not a scratch on me. That was about 2 weeks ago and the bike has been riding good since. I was really impressed on how fast the police and ambulance showed up. Also thanks to the cops for helping me get the bike to the shop instead of calling a tow truck. 🙂