Sunday, March 27, 2016

Chasing Volcanoes

As usual the getting back on the road takes a bit longer than expected. We definitely settled in, in Quito. But late in the afternoon we are being guided out of town by Diego and his friend. After a final coffee it is time to say goodbye but a cloud breaks in two and we decide to sit it out. It is POURING. By four o'clock we finally find ourselves riding South. Clouds cover the surroundings and it is not your best day for a ride. All of a sudden the clouds open up for a few minutes and Volcan Cotopaxi shows off it's beauty.
Volcan Cotopaxi looks quite impressive from a distance. What a scenic highway!
We turn right to Sigchos on a route that Diego recommended. The road winds through some hills and there is hardly any traffic. This would be purely delightful after all the city riding, but it's raining steadily and it's cold. The sun is setting as we ride up a dirt road and into a steep meadow. It has been a long time since we've camped.
Camping! The garage came in handy again to keep our gear dry while it poured down at night.
The noises of nature and the clean air make me feel alive again. In the morning most of the clouds have moved away and we have an amazing day of riding twisties ahead of us. That's what we thought... After a stop in Sigchos and drying all our gear in the sun we continue on the "Quilotoa Loop". 
Azure soaking up the heat of the sun in her new waterproof shoes.
The woodwork in the door of this church is a piece of art.
One learns to be patient while riding in South America. To some degree anyway... ;)

When the government decides they want to make a road through your front yard...
A few miles down the road the side of a mountain has collapsed and big chunks are still coming down. Luckily they are already clearing the road, but it takes a while before we are enjoying the vistas again. We make a quick stop at the crater lake of Quilotoa. It is very touristy and we have to pay to have a look at the lake. It is pretty but not our cup of tea. 

Lago Quilotoa. Very beautiful, but set up as a tourist trap.
The road down was much more enjoyable.
These people simply have a stunning backyard.
We continue to Zumbagua and stop for lunch in a square across from a school. It is lunchtime and the square floods with kids in school uniforms. We truly enjoy the experience and have a delicious lunch. The roads back to Latacunga are a true joy on a bike and we are sad to make it back to the highway. 
Loving life. Good cheap street food.

The alien has landed in town! :)
Azure truly enjoying her dessert.

Where to next!?!
 In Banos we are hoping to catch a glimpse of Volcano Tungurahua. It has been active lately and we would love to see some lava flow down its sides. Rainy season has started however and before we get a chance to get our cameras out the mountain is covered in clouds. We ride to the top of another mountain in the hope of sunset views but aside from the road up it's a big disappointment. Normally we might just sit around and wait but time is not standing still and we need to make it down to Ushuaia before it gets too cold. The time pressure is real and for a second I consider the possibility of postponing Tierra del Fuego to next year. But no. We are on a mission again. 

The beautiful city of Banos.
In the morning we leave the volcano for what it is and hope that we might see it on our way back up. Via the beautiful backroads of Penipe, that surprisingly do give us a view of the volcano, we get on our way to Riobamba... The town where Azure has spent some time with a host family when she was 15 to learn Spanish. She is hoping to find them again and see how her home away from home has changed in all these years.
Hello Tungurahua!

The Gran Plaza in Riobamba
Home in Ecuador. Now to find her family...

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