Published: August 28th 2011August 28th 2011
So, there I was, sitting in a pick-up truck on a cevlar-vest with the stock of a rifle tucked away behind my heals.
I couldn't see what kind of rifle since the luggage of the tree men escorting me was covering the rest.
But I guess it doesn't really matter what kind of rifle it was and I should tell the story as it happened...
But before I do so I would like to let everyone know that it turned out for the best and that I am allllright ...prepare for some shockers though ;D
So after my two days in Quito, during which I explored the historical centre, mirador and whatnot together with a nice Swiss girl I decided to move on towards the next stop, Baños.
Baños is a nice little town, tucked away between the mountains in central Ecuador.
It lies at the side of one volcano in particular from which it gets its star attraction and main reason why this quiet little town is now part of the gringo-trail.
That attraction being a set of tree pools whose water is heated by that (active)volcano, so the pools range from ridiculously hot to cold(and one in between
;) ) and are told to have a healing quality.
So after my day of RnR there, I was ready to get on the road again and decided to head for Machala, a city by the coast.
This was actually the first day I had a hard time finding the way, normally the roads are clearly marked(to S.A. standards anyway) but this time I couldn't find one sign showing the way to where I wanted to go which ended up with me making a few wrong turns.
By noon I was already well of track, while I needed to be heading west towards the coast I was riding straight down south trough the mountains.
But, after a talk with an Ecuadorian fellah, that actually seemed to be a good thing since it meant I was heading straight for Cuenca which, after some reading up, I found out is the most beautiful city in Ecuador.
And so it passed, I adjusted course to Cuenca(actually I just kept going the way I was going, but now I wanted to be going in that direction as well).
Besides not finding the way originally, getting there was a lot of fun, mowing away
370km, spotting pigs in five different colours along the way(pink, black, brown, white and nice golden-crispy(this last one was upside-down over a coal fire ;p )), getting chased by dogs a whole bunch of times(they don't seem to like motorbikes around here) and reaching a new record of 92kph(downhill out of gear)....yeh good times...
Cuenca turned out to be a nice city indeed and so I had a lovely day there.
But as I was getting closer to Peru, which I consider to be one of the highlights of this trip, I decided to move on after just one full day there.
The ride to Vilcabamba, where I was supposed to spend my last nigh in Ecuador, was straight forward and simple... not a good preparation for the horrors to come ;D
I left Vilcabamba towards the La Balsa border crossing, which seemed like a good two or tree hour ride away, with a bit more than half a tank and two dollars or so for food or whatever.
But that wasn't really a problem since once in Peru I'd withdraw money and refuel both the bike and myself... or atleast that was the plan.
Once out of
town the, until then well maintained and easy driving, road changed into a construction wharf basically.
Usually you would expect that after a mile or two the normal road would start again, right? Well, NO.
After about ten miles of dashing between bulldozers and piles of excavated mountain I found out this was the part of the country where they were still in the process of building roads.
Along the way I met 3cyclist who were going the same way I was and who actually did some research, they confirmed the 'road' would stay like this till a the first city or so in Peru.
So for the next 100km I drove over little more than a trail, with actual river crossings(no bridges or any of that fancy stuff, actual wading-trough-the-water river crossings.. ok they were like little creeks but still...) evading potholes, rocks and rumble left behind from landslides and all that sort of stuff along the way on my little bike which has enough trouble already dealing with normal roads.
But none of that really mattered when I, after 8hours, reached the La Balsa border crossing and with that, Peru.
When you know Peru has been spooking
trough my head for a couple of months already I think you can imagine how much swearing went trough my head when they told me I couldn't pass the border since I didn't apply for some document for my bike when I entered the country.
And as if this wasn't enough, the only solution they could come up with was that I went back to where I entered the country(1500km north trough the Andes) and get my papers in order there instead of letting me ride over the bridge into Peru...
Now, this was already really, really bad and the fact that I had, by this time, 60cents and almost no fuel didn't really help neither.
At about 40minutes drive back from the border crossing(which was little more than a few buildings and a bridge) there was a small city, which sadly didn't have an ATM machine...
So here comes the(or one of the) shocker(s).
Since I didn't have any money and couldn't drive back all the way to then next place with an ATM in the dark, over a dirt-road without gas I slept that night on the streets of this little city called Zumba :)
Luckily some guy
who I met during the day passed by, we had a little chat and he gave me some food so I wasn't hungry or anything... just cold, lonely and scared.
HAH, no that's not true neither, I was none of those, I'm a big boy ;)
I guess some of you might be a bit upset now but, don't be, it was totally ok and believe it or not this was actually on my to-do list of things I wanted to do atleast once in my life.
Ok, on the list it said more something like”#64. Spend a couple of days or more in the south of France while sleeping under the stars and living of bread, cheese and wine.” but anyway, this came close enough XD
After a good night sleep ;) I had to come up with a solution basically.
One of the men from customs at La Balsa told me that the district capital, where the boss is, is located at Macara, another border crossing to the west and that they might be able to offer a solution.
With the 60cents I had ever so carefully held on to, I headed over to an internet/call place
where there luckily was a very lovely young lady who after hearing my story decided to help me.
So first we looked up the number of customs at Macara and called them.
After being rerouted a couple of times we got to a person who claimed/appeared to be someone in charge and basically said: “There is no problem really, you can go to the border and if they won't let you pass tell them to call me at this number”
And thus happy as a hummingbird I returned to La Balsa with the good news.
But when I gave the name, number and information the boss-person had given me... well, to cut a long story short: the bike got detained and they were gonna ship it to Macara the day after, where I could go to the district capital office and plea my case.
And now for the funny part, after hearing this news I decided to switch my pants for shorts since it was getting a bit warm and I would be waiting there for quite a while for the next bus, which I had to figure out how to take without any money.
And you will never
guess what I found in my shorts... ow yes you probably did guess it, a 20USD bill XD
Ow the things that went trough my head...
A little later they told me that the bike would be picked up the morning after and that I could hitch a ride all the way to Macara, which was actually really good news.
It just meant that I had to spend the night at the little desolate border-town La Balsa.
I don't really need to tell you that there wasn't a whole lot to do at there.
Luckily I was allowed to cross the bridge, into Peru, where there was a toilet, shower and even a restaurant and hotel.
And there I also met a nice Argentinian couple who had been travelling by motorbikes for about a year and half and were heading the same way I was.
So after mingling a bit with my new found biker-buddies and dinner, I checked in the hotel for an overdue peaceful night
The next morning my ride arrived, they loaded the bike and we got on our way.
“And there I was, sitting in a pick-up truck on a cevlar-vest with the stock of
This was pretty much my reaction to hearing my bike got detained...
a rifle tucked away behind my heals.
I couldn't see what kind of rifle since the luggage of the tree men escorting me was covering the rest.
But I guess it doesn't really matter what kind of rifle it was...”
Actually besides the fact that my bike had been detained, this ride turned out to be pretty fun.
At about two hours in the trip we arrived at our first halt, road-works.
Since we weren't allowed to pass for more than an hour we drove back to a river we had passed about a click back and ...went for a swim :)
After our 40minutes of splashing around we got back in the car and started driving again.
Besides stopping for cookies, dinner and icecreams not a whole lot happened the rest of the ride.
That same Saturday we arrived at Macara where the carnival could start... the next Monday since people don't work on Sundays.
From Monday to Wednesday I basically went to the customs office each day to see what could be done.
And on Thursday morning they told me they couldn't help me and that the only person who could was the boss-person who was at
office in a town four hours away by bus.
So that's where I went that same day and if it did one thing besides getting me there, the bus-ride made me realise how wonderful the bike really is because god I hate riding buses, especially trough mountains.
When I got to the office the boss-person at first said there wasn't really anything he could do.
And that's when I did it, I brought out the big guns: * puppy face * (never fails)
After talking to him a bit he, besides ridiculing my passport photo, my bike and the fact that I didn't know such a basic thing as needing to pas by customs with vehicles, he quite easily made up a document saying I could have my bike back and leave the country with it.
I guess I don't need to tell you that I was pretty relieved and happy at that time ;)
And so there I was, driving my little bike straight into the sunset, in Peru :D
There are more photos below