Saturday, 3 November 2012

Day 118: Saint Miguel to Machala, Ecuador

Greetings all
Well a sobering moment for us today as we passed through a small village and encountered a huge group of people and police blocking most of the road. On the left and partly down a bank a small motorcycle upside down and with a twisted frame. Ten metres along the road a young man lying in a pool of blood from a head wound and obviously dead. It made us think, not only about bikes and stuff but also about helmets, boots and the protective gear that we struggle with from time to time. Hmmmmm.

Breakfast was at seven at our quirky little hotel so we were up and packed and ready to go before then. Shirley took some photos before we left. Firstly here is her sea bass dinner from last night.

Then a grinder at the frontbdoor.

We headed on down a reasonable but busy road through Riobamba. Da boys were out riding too. Mostly pretend Harley's. They weren't sure whether to wave or to ignore us!

As we rode along we could smell coriander. It was this truck's load!

Just south of Riobamba Karen told us to go left for the fastest route. Even though the signs said Cuenca straight ahead. We took a chance and went left which took us through Pallatanga. It was a wonderful road - up to 4,000 metres asl at one point but hardly fast.

The road climbed steeply through precipitous farms and gorges all highly cultivated.

Lots more indigenous people here - stocky and deep chested with the women wearing dinky little trilby hats.

Lots of animals tethered at the side of the road. Even sheep!

And pigs

Not all of which were tethered.

We stopped so Shirl could photograph some food.

And gradually worked our way down to El Triunfo. We made a critical decision at this point. We decided that instead of going to Cuenca we would continue south to Machala and cross into Peru tomorrow.

We had stopped on a bit of road that was cambered quite steeply to the left and a bit downhill. Shirley fetched us stones for our sidestands so the bikes weren't cantered over too far and we spent time studying the maps and being sure we were being sensible. Dick packed up his topbox and gave the lid a good slam to close it. Mella slipped off the stone, the sidestand folded up and the bike headed for the tarmac. With an absolutely amazing Herculean effort Dick managed to hold her upright as she headed down the hill. Shirley got in alongside him and between the two they managed to stop her from toppling. Phew! We got her in gear, edged her up a bit closer to the curb and put the stone back under the sidestand. Blimey, that was close!

We now headed down out of the highlands and on the the plains at about 16 metres asl. What a change. Lots of big crops here. Sugarcane.

Hectare after hectare of banana trees. Dole and Del Monte!

Finally we rolled into Machala at about 5pm. Initially we were impressed with a three lane expressway leading into the town. But when we got off the expressway the streets were in much rougher condition. We had a hotel keyed into Karen but she wasn't to know that lots of the roads that she wanted us to ride on were in the process of being ripped up.

Eventually we found the Hotel Oro Verde - quite a bit more expensive than we would have liked but we were tired. And sick of riding round in circles.

And so dinner, a beer and I think we won't be long out of bed.


Today's run: 422kms
Cumulative: 28,541kms
Tipovers: 6

Location:Machala, Ecuador.

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