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Archive for December 14th, 2009

Day 371 – 14th December 09

Posted by TravellingStrom on December 14, 2009

Monday – Loja, Ecuador

After a good night’s sleep I was down in the breakfast room checking email etc, but the internet was down. No worries, I wrote some blog and then found out the internet here is always down early in the morning and does not come back up until later 😦 After breakfast the power went down, this is also normal apparently, because Ecuador is suffering a drought and as most of their power is derived from hydro, they have instigated rolling blackouts from 2-3 hours per day! This meant no power until 11am here, so I packed up and headed south out of town until I found an internet cafe in the powered zone. I sat here and checked stuff and posted an entry before the power went down at 11am 🙂

As it turns out, the other moto chap was going to be in Cuenca maybe Wednesday or Thursday, so I sent him a pm saying I would only be there tonight, maybe. So I headed south through the dry countryside, even though I could see green patches of farming areas, the roads were smooth and fast and it looked to be a fun day 🙂

A bit later I was amongst and then above the clouds looking down on the farm lands in the valley below 🙂

It began to get cold up here and I was once again hitting twisties in the fog, I had to switch on the heated grips to stop hand cramps, especially the throttle hand when using the camera 🙂 Once again, if you look at the trip profile, you can see I was up over the 3km mark quite a few times today 🙂

[Insert – I was supposed to post a video here, but the internet connection was patchy so YouTube kept failing on upload, I will do it later and send you back 🙂 ] OK, here is the video, Ifinally got it working

I found a small village up the top here that had a place that looked good for lunch, it would have been nice if the view was of the valley not the street, but the tucker was nice, although once again, it was way too large and too cheap, $4.50 including drink.

After lunch I headed down into a valley crossing bridge and back up the other side and here you can see the village I had lunch at perched on the mountainside 🙂

I started to get into road works, they seem to be replacing all the bitumen roads with concrete slabs, which will no doubt last the winter time a lot better. But, this meant a lot of unannounced lane closures, while the new slab had rocks placed on it to stop traffic, while it cured. Sometimes the actual road surface was missing totally and was really chopped up and quite often, only half the road was complete, which meant reo sticking out of the raised slab road, ready to stick into your tyre if you ventured near!

On some occasions there would be a road sign warning of the bad road and even occasionally a chap controlling the single lane road, but not often, it was usually take a chance and hope a big truck was not coming the other way. The countryside was nice though and sometimes it was possible to look at it between all the traffic snarls caused by the works. Another thing I noticed here was the lack of motorcycles, probably because the elevation and lack of air makes the cheap carb type hard to run. The lack of smoky bike exhausts was more than made up for by the black diesel smoke that was being belched out by the trucks and buses as they negotiated the hills under full grunt power in low gear!

A welcome relief from all the smoke was the beautiful smell of Eucalyptus, it was amazing how many tracts of these trees I saw and they have been there a long time by the looks of their height. They nearly make me homesick, not really I like it out here, but I would love a meat pie! 🙂

That was just before the town of Cuenca which I managed to bypass around 3.30. I thought about stopping, but as it was only 200km or so to Loja, I reckoned I could get there before dark. If I did arrive after dark, it would not be a big surprise to me and one good thing for me was there would be no chance of rain, not so good for Ecuador though. Some of the roads up here were fast and furious, the road followed the ridge line for quite a ways above the clouds.

At one stage I was being followed by two utes through some twisties when I came up over a left hand cresting corner and spotted another horse being led by a person on my side of the road. That was no problem because I moved to the centre of the road, that is when I saw the second horse coming across the road with rope around its head but not being led. I managed to slow and pick the gap, but it bolted ahead and filled the gap, so I had no choice but maximum anchor and also move the bike more left, which worked until the back wheel unstuck and stepped out and nearly sideswiped the stupid horse. As I am here you can see I managed to keep it upright but it gave me a bit of a scare I can tell you, meanwhile the two utes up my arse had backed off 🙂 At least with them behind me, I would have had help if it turned out worse. Never mind, onwards and once again it was down in the valley and right back up the other side after crossing the river. It was hard to manage the heat, because up top I was cold and had the grips on, but half way down I had to unzip the jacket a bit and turn the grips off, I am glad I had them though 🙂

I was only 70km from Loja and having a good run, but as I got closer the road went from good to bad and there were lots of sections where the road just was not there, you would come around a nice corner and there was dirt, no warning nothing!!!

But thankfully around 6.15pm I saw my first sight of Loja down in the valley, which meant I should be tucked away before dark 🙂

I still had lots of wet dirt to get through though as there was massive construction happening. I used the LP to choose a place and paid a taxi to take me there. The hotel was called the Metropolitan Hotel on Calle 18. It had secure parking, but no internet but was cheap at $10 plus another $2 for the parking. I was happy enough with the place as it was now dark and did not feel like looking further. For a cheap secure place this is OK, but not ideal, but for those interested, the GPS co-ords are

S-3 59.737 W-79 12.252 D,M,DM

As it happens, there was an internet cafe next door, so I did a quick email check, but not with my laptop as they said it could not be done 😦 No worries, that done I found a Chinese nosh place and had Chow Fan with prawns and a beer, before the lights went off at 8pm, bugger, rolling blackouts! I also found out that walking the streets in the pitch black to get back to my hotel was a different experience and then found that the hot water was off until 10pm when the power would be back 😦 No worries, I grabbed the laptop and watched the movie I had been carrying for a long time called “Riding Solo To The Top Of The World”. That is one impressive ride, but I did not get to see it all as my battery was down too far, but by then the power came back on and now it was time for a shower and bed.

Tomorrow I would attempt the Peru border and hopefully get some way down towards Lima, before heading to Cusco and Machu Pichu 🙂

Day – 303 miles and 488 km
Trip – 45,269 miles and 72,853 km



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