Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Day 108: from near Pasto, Colombia to Ibarra, Ecuador

Hi folks
Well it was a ripper of a day today!
We were up at 5.30am to pack the bikes and had a Shirl breakfast on the balcony.

Mangoes, turtle bread and soft white goat cheese with oatmeal yoghurt. By 6.30am we were on the road. It was a beautiful morning with early mist but we weren't up early enough to beat the trucks.

It was a steep hill but this young bloke on a bike had the right idea. In case you can't see he is holding onto the back of the truck.

It was a lovely morning but I seemed to be struggling with the riding.

When we came to tolls the little pathway for motos was narrower than usual and the edges really high. I had an anxiety attack and made Shirl get off and walk through while I rode. We stopped at a petrol station soon after and I said I was feeling breathless and anxious. And she pointed out how high we were - 2,500 metres asl. I was suffering from a little altitude sickness! Once I realised what it was I was fine and we forged on.
Soon we came to the city of Pasto and rode through the bypass. What a crap road!

We had no choice but to get on with it and so - stop start, stop start - we did. Eventually we struggled out the other side and into market garden country.


We stopped at a restaurant for coffee and in a flash Frank's mother was in the kitchen. A great gas fired charcoal rotisserie.

And some poor bloke's breakfast.

The staff were so pleased to see us go, they all came out to the front to wave us goodbye and count their cutlery.

We then rode through some amazing gorges. At times we were up to 3,300 metres asl.

Just as D&D rode through here three stones the size of softballs crashed down on the road behind them but in front of us.

In Colombia they paint these cute lines down the middle of the road. I have no idea what they mean but here is a police ute passing D&D across some with traffic coming the other way.

Soon we were at the border. Goodbye Colombia.....

and hello Ecuador.

The exit from Colombia was very easy. The four of us stood in a short line for a short time with passports in hand for our exit stamps.Then Dick and I went to the Dian, produced our temporary importation papers and wham bang, thank you very much, we were cleared to go.
Ecuador was a different story. The actual processing was quick and easy enough (they didn't even check the bikes) but the waiting was terrible. We stood in the queue to have our passports stamped for a good (!) hour and then waited in the customs for the bike importation for another 40 minutes or so.No charge to import a vehicle. Just slow.
We had lunch at the border restaurant and then got back on the road hoping to get near Quito by quitting time. (A little bit of humour there.) The scenery was huge.

And the football fields well used.

At a roadworks this man with the smile was selling pineapple, water melon and mangoes. We admired but didn't buy.

By about 3.30pm we could see the thunder clouds gathering ahead and it was very windy. So we decided to stop at a hotel in Ibarra. It was ok. Crappy wifi but a nice meal and a nice beer. But best off, our rooms had HOT WATER, TOILET SEATS AND SHOWER ROSES. Woohoo! The height of luxury.
After dinner Shirl and I spent ages on the iPad looking for accommodation in Quito. Finally we found a rather expensive hotel which we have booked into for one night but may stay two. We was knackered we was. Which is why this blog is being written retrospectively so to speak.
Finally some comments about Colombia. Quite a few people were worried about us going in there and we were cautious too. Getting the bikes into Colombia was a pain - it took a day and a half of unnecessary bureaucratic crap. Once we were on the road however we experienced lots of cheerful courtesy and astonishing helpfulness. The police stopped us out of Cartagena and took my fingerprints. But apart from that all we had were big waves and smiles and thumbs up from the police and from the army. I would not hesitate to recommend Colombia to anyone looking for a cheap and relaxed holiday - possibly not involving a trip up into the highlands.
Today's ride: 307kms
Cumulative: 27,858 kms
Tipovers: 6

Location:Ibarra, Ecuador


  1. Hi Ken, back from my little trip and just caught up on your wonderful blog. not much to report on my end except a broken rear shock, and SAND SUCKS. Loved the pics, and thank you to Shirley for the foodtography. I must echo an earlier comment and beg you to see a doc about your ribs. Pneumonia can set in rather quickly, due to lack of deep breathing and high humidity. If nothing else, the pain killers may be worth the visit. Cheers.

    1. Hi Scotty. Well done mate and yes, sand sucks. I could cope with it on my DR650 but not on the Beemer. But there are those that do. So long as you had a good time, that's what matters.

      The last time I saw a dr about broken ribs he said "Ken, you've broken a rib. Go home and see me in two months time and we'll make sure it has healed properly" But yes on the deep breathing. I am making sure I do. :-)

      Shirley and I have really appreciated your comments. Thanks very much. It's like having a mentor on the side and we know we can call on you for help if we ever need it. Cheers, Ken