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Day 366 – 9th December 09

Posted by TravellingStrom on December 9, 2009

Wednesday – Ibarra, Ecuador

A new country to experience and my first border crossing in the South American continent

I was a bit seedy when I woke, but all things considered I decided to ride anyway, but maybe a bit later. I only had about 80km to ride to reach the border, but there was also a touristy thing to do prior to the crossing. The breakfast was included, which just turned out to be an egg omelette with nothing else in it, toast and jam etc. OK to settle the stomach 🙂 Once I had packed and booked out I just needed to find a way out of the city, in the end it was quite easy, I asked a biker and followed him until I found the main road south 🙂

Once amongst the farms and hills it was great going. Here is a normal thing that is done down this way in Colombia, there are a lot of villages on curves, mainly due to the amount of curves of course, but also a lot of schools, now they announce a school with white lines all over the road, which is fine until it gets wet, then these things play havoc with the front wheel!!!

Today was dry for a change and the scenery to the border town of Ipales was fantastic just like yesterday 🙂

Once through Ipales and having fuelled up, I headed south east to a small town called Los Lagas. This involved more twisties and after parking the bike I then had to hike through all the street vendors to get to the destination 🙂

I know, it is a church, but I am not interested in the religious aspect but where it has been built, that is an effort and a half, great stuff. The background to it is that there was a piece of bare rock cliff face which apparently showed an image of the virgin Mary, so they built a church here and there are supposed to be a lot of miracles associated with this church. That is the reason for all the plaques scattered around. The actual church is built on a bridge spanning the gorge and the back of the church is attached to the cliff, this is where the alter is. An amazing piece of work, and well worth the effort to view it 🙂

After that little side trip it was off to the border after returning and riding back through Ipales. This border crossing was easy, at the exit point on the right is an official car park, I parked the bike there under instruction of some of the blokes sitting there. They were official helpers, no charge, I changed my money here to US dollars as that is what Ecuador wants. So, just to the right of the bike is a small building, here is the immigration where my passport was stamped out of Colombia, of course they did not put it on the same page as the incoming one, no way, that would be too smart!

After that I go to the building behind that where my temporary VIP is stamped and they also keep one of the two copies, that is all there is to it, I then paid a $1 to the guy looking after my bike, fair enough 🙂

After that I ride down the road about 200m and this is the Ecuador side. The immigration building is right there on the corner, I parked to the right and crossed the road to get a form to fill out then get my passport stamped in, that was easy.

I then moved the bike down the road about 50m and parked it on the left at the last little building, this is the Aduana and here was where I got the paperwork done for the VIP.

The only thing that held things up here was that he wanted a copy of the International DL, not just the one I had, but also the front cover, as that was where the ID number was. There was a photocopy place just across the road, so that was no big deal, I got 10 copies for a buck and went back and after he typed some more stuff and I agreed the numbers were correct, he printed my VIP out and I was good to go, just on an hour after starting the process 🙂 And go I did, through some very tight streets and thick traffic, but eventually I found the right sign and was soon free on the highway 🙂

This is when I hit my first of many toll booths, not as nice as Colombia where bikes are let through, I have to stop, remove gloves, find 20c in my pocket accept ticket, gloves on and then ride away, annoying but cheap I guess!

For the next hour or so it was an enjoyable ride, the roads were good and fast, the corners not as tight as before so speed was up there and although I was interested in getting to Quito tonight, I was unsure of the road between the next big town of Ibarra and Quito, if it turned tight and twisty I could be stuck out after dark, so I decided to stay in Ibarra.

There were two other reasons to stop soon, one was that last night was starting to catch up with me and I was tired, but also I noticed that I was approaching the Equator, a major milestone on the journey and I wanted to enjoy that experience without rushing, so when I arrived at Ibarra, I had no idea where to stay, but right on the outskirts as I came in was a nice looking place called El Prado, it was cheap, breakfast included and had internet and secure parking, beauty 🙂

I was soon settled in, basic travel stuff completed and was soon up the bar for my first Ecuadorian beer, this place seemed to be a resort type place and catered for lots of things. The beer tasted fine but they did not have stubbies, just 500ml bottles, oh well I can live with that 🙂

I was reading about some stuff to do in and around here and Quito, the next town which was only 100km or so away. It turns out this place was a good place to stop, because my sister had asked for a wood carving from this country and my next parcel home was to be in Quito either tomorrow or the next day. Well, just on the south of this town is a place called San Antonio De Ibarra and is filled with wood artisans and hundreds of shops all selling their stuff, so I had plenty of time tomorrow to look around. 🙂 I had a great dinner, although it was not typical of this country before heading back for a bit of internet and a rest, fatigue was setting in.

The evening was going to be spent writing some blog, but around 8pm after a very welcome hot shower, the power went out, a genset fired up but it did not cover my room, nor the WiFi system, so that was cool, I read a bit of book by headlamp light before crashing out for an early night 🙂

Day – 149 miles and 240 km
Trip – 44,743 miles and 72,007 km



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9 Responses to “Day 366 – 9th December 09”

  1. GrahamD said

    Beautiful countryside Richard.

    Its great to be able to see all that from the other side of the world.

    That church was amazing, did you pray for your cameras to be resurrected while you were there.

    It would be interesting to see if it worked 🙂

    I better go before I offend any more people. 😉

    Thanks again for sharing.


    • G’day m8, yes the country around here is amazing. 🙂

      As far as cameras go, the one that I dropped in Mexico City and broke, well I gave it to my host Gary. He has since sent an email that he got it repaired and they replaced the lens assembly, it cost a lot less than a new camera would have cost, so he is happy and I guess so am I as it did not go in the bin

      As far as offending people go, if they have thin skins, tough titties m8 🙂

      s Cheers TravellingStrom

  2. GrahamD said

    Oh nearly forgot!!

    Happy anniversary.

    I can see you are keeping the sleeping VStrom pics up to date.

    Looks like another one coming up. 😉


  3. Gary said

    Good and interesting pics. Great to see what the country actually looks like. How do you have your camera setup, going by the angles must be on you. Roads look in good condition. Happy Anniversary!!!

    • Hi Gary

      The camera sits in my left hand pocket on a lanyard, I use my left hand to take most pictures and movies, it is a simple process now to grab the camera from pocket, turn it on and take the photo while moving. Mind you, I do stop and take better ones when the road surface and road shoulder allows.

      Cheers TS

  4. carl said

    vstrom down, does’nt sound good m8. I thought by now you would have learnt to keep the round black things on the ground. Hope all is well with you and the bike. TILL WE DRINK AGAIN.

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