Wednesday, April 20, 2016

When you are riding in the rain and think it can't get worse...

Riding out of Riobamba is an emotional happening. It had really touched Azure that "her family" was still there for her and she realized how much the experience had shaped her life. Not long after the tears dried we get waved down by Fabian, a friend of Diego's whom we had met earlier in town. Together we ride the beautiful road to Lagunas de Atillo and I make some road side coffee. 

Coffee making Ecuadorian style, with the filter hanging off the Gobi water tap. 

What a joy to swerve through this countryside!
After taking in the view we continue to Macas. We have the feeling we are not seeing enough of Ecuador on our way down so we decide to make this little detour. It is well worth it with many hairpins, cool air, roadside waterfalls and a view into small-town Ecuadorian life.  

So much for seeing more of the country...

...More detours seemed necessary :)
And it paid off! A clean bike once again!
In Macas we have a quick lunch break and find some oil for Azure's ever thirsty bike. It is humid and hot on the amazonian side of the mountain range and we have to shed a few of our layers to be able to breath. We make quick work of the road South. We ask a few people what the fastest way to Cuenca is and they all come up with this one road. That must be good! 
That moment where you are looking at the map and Azure saves the day over the SENA intercom...
Twenty minutes later we ride past a sign that says Cuenca. Before we have time to brake we ride past a small dirt road that turns sharply to the right and starts climbing right away. Nah, that can't be it. We continue down the road thinking we'll come across a nice big turn off taking us to Cuenca before dark. We thought wrong. Don't get me wrong, I like dirt but not when we don't expect it and have to make it somewhere before dark. It is a stunning ride up with steep drop offs and long curves twisting their way up ahead of us. But they are twisting into a dark cloud and in no time we ride in the rain. We can't see more then a few meters in front of us and it is getting horribly cold. Every time we think we have made it to the top the road starts climbing again after a teasing stretch downhill.
A sign tells us we actually made it to the top of the pass. Finally! There is a truck parked on the road. The drivers door is open. I ride passed and the driver is standing in the door and is, it seems, buttoning down his jeans. What the...! Azure follows a way behind and only just misses a solid stream from the cabin. Damn! I guess I would want to stay dry as well... 

(Sorry no pictures of this due to the rain!)

Completely miserable we make it down the mountain about an hour later. There is still some sunshine that lights up the green valley below. We are just happy to be out of the heavy rain and on pavement again when we ride into Gualaceo. Still soaked we ride into Cuenca 30 minutes later. We spend a long time finding the right hostel and finally wind up at Hostal AlterNativa. There is a lot to see here and we have to prep for the border crossing into Peru.

The Cathedral of Cuenca. One of the many sights in this beautiful town.

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