Wed 23rd to Thur 24th November
We left the hustle and bustle of Quito having spent three nights here and headed back up into the hills.
We rode into the Andes proper today riding to over 12000 ft at one point and being above 10000 ft for much of the time. For some reason I expected jagged peaks and dramatic mountains but..........
........ it was more rounded and quite intensively cultivated, with traditionally dressed communities working the fields with hand tools. These mountain villages looked very well kept and tidy.
One of the young farmers - any girls out there fancy moving to the Andes?
After a while the land became more arid and there was much less cultivation.
The scenery was quite outstanding. Unfortunately our photographic skills and equipment can never hope to capture the immensity of our surroundings and the pollution/heat haze makes everything look slightly opaque..
A village nestling between the mountains
An hour before reaching Cuenca the heavens opened and we arrived in the wet and dark. Once again the hotel we had picked was full. The manager said there were three festivals on here at the moment but perhaps he didn’t want four dripping wet motorcyclists walking through his hotel. We ended up in a somewhat seedy place around the corner but at least the motorbikes came into the foyer with us so were dry for the night too.
Thursday - In the morning we had a look around Cuenca, yet another World heritage Site. The city is more compact than Quito, with as much to see and probably better than its larger neighbour.
Traditionally dressed women in Cuenca
Our first stop was the Panama hat factory and museum. This pile of hats was waiting for the trimmer to do his business.
Roger was persuaded to part with his dollars but which one of these colourful Panamas did he walk out with?
No surprises, these Kiwi's are a conservative bunch!
The flower market.
The rag and bone man, Peruvian style.
There were a lot of well preserved colonial buildings in the city, mostly churches like just about everywhere else. Why is it that Churches always seem to survive the ravages of time, war and weather?
Unfortunately we only had a couple of hours to sightsee, then it was back on the road heading South toward the Peruvian border.
Today’s ride was much like yesterday’s, up in the mountains. We felt a bit like the Grand Old Duke Of York’s men as we were marched up the 12000 ft mountains and marched down again, up again, down again and so it went on until we dropped down to Catamayo. They don't seem to follow valleys in this part of the World!
Our poor old bikes aren’t the most powerful beasts on the planet and struggle a bit going up the steep mountain roads and breath a huge sigh of relief when we start coming down again.
View from the roof of our hotel in Catamayo.
Catamayo is a town improving (Lonely Planet is not very complimentary). They have recently refurbished the Town Plaza and a decent hotel with attached restaurant has opened.
Tomorrow we get up early (6am) and head for the Peruvian border at Macara.