Beginning our ascent


Cheese and avacado sandwiches, a small snack in the town square

Cheese and avacado sandwiches, a small snack in the town square

There are such things as physical oases and mental oases. Sometimes they coincide but not always. We just woke from a physical one that we found at dusk last night: a roof with a creek running alongside for our post ride bath. It was far from a mental oasis in that we had a fitful night’s sleep, worrying about passing traffic and whether or not we were trespassing.

Waking to every sound and flash of light is a stark contrast to the paradise we found in the Amazon visiting Sani Lodge where we had four nights of absolute bliss. We’ll write more on that later, but for now we’re back on the bikes climbing into the Andes from Macas through Parque Nacional Sangay. We’re relieved to be in a park and away from the onset of Carnaval, a four day affair where everyone and everything gets soaked with all manner of liquids and foam. We happen to be an especially slow moving target with only two sets of clothes! There may be no avoiding it though, based on our New Year’s Eve experiences* in the middle of nowhere.

We’ve loved the transition from the coast to the orient, beginning with our arrival to BaƱos. Locals have said Ecuador is really four countries in one, the coast, the Andes, the oriente (Amazon), and the Galapagos, and we feel like we’re getting a taste of it all.

Roadside attractions in the Amazon

Roadside attractions in the Amazon

We’re standing at 1,050 meters above sea level and our route for the next few days tops out at right around 4,000. We still brake for birds, although at an uphill pave or won’t be that great of a change in speed. See you at the top!

*It’s an Ecuadorian tradition for young boys (and some older) to dress up like women and use rope or long branches to create road blocks and ask for money to allow you through. In a 100km stretch, we must have hit 50 roadblocks and were forced to break bills and finally divvy our chocolate stash to make it through. The road blocks go hand on hand with burning “El Viejo” (the old man) at midnight, a life-sized stuffed doll, which is supposed to bring luck and good tidings in the upcoming year. The widow is left behind to all for money, hence the cross dressing children.