Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Ipiales to Quito (Ecuador)

Sun 20th to Tue 22nd November

Sunday dawned and we saw what a bleak town we had stayed in last night. Not much here to entice the visitor.

Ipiales town centre

There was one place we wanted to visit before crossing the border, Santuario de Las Lajos, a cathedral built across a gorge a couple of miles out of town. Unfortunately on our way the inevitable finally occurred. Throughout Mexico, Central America and now here, dogs run wild and are constantly darting across the road in front of traffic. Dead dogs on the roadside are a common sight and there was almost another this morning as Terry collided with one that run straight out in front of him. Fortunately he managed to stay on the bike.

Santuario de Las Lajos

Las Lajos is a place of pilgrimage and we saw one group of indigenous indians walking towards it chanting all the way and another approaching on their knees. The climb down and back up is very steep and I wondered how some of the very elderly were going to get back up.

Goodbye Colombia, hello Ecuador. The border crossing was a breeze, no fixers and no cost. Our easiest border yet apart from Canada to the States. The only delay was the result of a power cut which put Customs computers off line so they couldn't process our vehicles.

The ride was pretty much all in the hills again with one difference, the road surface was much, much better on the Ecuadorian side of the border.

Our first sight of a snow capped mountain for some time. It doesn’t seem quite right to see snow on the Equator. There’s a sweepstake running on how long it is before my heated clothing comes out of the pannier.

Old Quito at night

It was just getting dark as arrived in Quito. Our first choice of accommodation, 'The Secret Garden' was full so we ended up at 'Viena Hotel International' which proved to be a better choice for us with the bonus of on site garage parking.

Monday - As we ran out of time yesterday we decided to ride the few miles back and celebrate our crossing of the Equator. Although correct at the time the monument was built in 1979, increased accuracy and a change to the World Geodetic system means that the Equator proper is now 240 metres to the North. Who cares, it's still the place to have your photo taken.........

Have you ever tried to get four old gits to jump, let alone all at the same time………

…. Plan two, one foot in the Northern hemisphere and one in the Southern or is it one foot in the grave!

Back at the hotel we had to wait a while before someone could open the garage for us to park the bikes. In that time we caused another crowd to form. The level of interest in our presence is quite amazing. Some had never heard of England (Inglaterra) and thought that everyone who spoke English was American!

Tuesday - Another day in Quito so that we could ride the second highest cable car in the World, ‘The Quito Teleferico’.

The car took us up the Pichincha Volcano to a height of over 13000 ft. On a clear day you would be treated to some stunning views but we were out of luck today.

One of the mountains managing to stick it’s peak above the smog that hangs over the city below.

After the cable car we got a taxi back into the old centre for a look around. This part of Quito was one of the first cities to be designated a World Heritage Site in 1978.

One of the Plazas in the old city

Tiled domed roofs add to the splendour of the buildings.

La Ronda one of narrow streets that have been restored.

All this sightseeing is tiring work.

Tomorrow we leave Quito and continue South towards Cuenca on the Pan American highway, winding our way through the middle of the Andes.

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