Thursday, 28 November 2013

Oyacachi Road To Banos

Heading back to reality and down the main drag our ride took us through Beaza and on down to Tena for the night.

We had heard various things about Tena but to be honest it was a stopover only point with Banos in mind for us.

They do however have a cool bridge across to river at the confluence of two rivers .... that was Tena.

The moon through the cables

With Banos in sight we headed down the black top, a coupla small welcomed showers cooled us nicely before heading up to Banos.

Wasn’t long and we were sorted for acomm and taking the place in, it is a little more touristy than normal which is a nice change after mucking around in the sticks.

Plenty to do there and a very nice place to kick back for a few days ... which we managed to do.

While there we ran into the Canadian hooligans Robert and Marrylou again, we met them at Papallacta hot springs so that was cool.

We made a sad attempt to buy wine but NOT on a Sunday there ... lucky the hotel did, four bottles of red later and the rum gone we walked home at just before 1.00am in the pissing rain ... it was awesome.

Photo courtesy of Marrylou as we broke our cardinal rule and went out WITHOUT our camera ... thank you Marrylou ..... we just need one with you guys too. 

While walking back we were the only ones on the street until four local lads piled out of a doorway and started dancing and hooharring in the street in the heavy rain before dropping the only clothing they were wearing (gruds) and doing a noody dash up the street ... it was so funny.

We took the time to take in Banos, including the hike around the back of town and a well deserved and good coffee overlooking town.

Banos being in the valley allows you to climb to great heights on both sides of the valley, unfortunately the volcano did not play with us and was a little camera shy, can't win em all.

Given this was our tourist week we did several things locally,

The cable car over the river to a waterfall

Sat with some amigos .. they were a bit quiet and standoffish

Given banos kinda means bathroom and it is a long drop to to town ... well

Took Marylou and Robert for a small ride on Maya

Rode the old road

Ellen took a photo of a waterfall filling up a church ... should be full by now

Had lunch beside a river

Next up .. to man who has ridden who has ridden the America on a KTM 525 EXC ....

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Oyachachi Road

Here we are back to our old ways of wanting to look around the next corner and the lure of a gravel road winding its way into Gods back yard and disappearing into a vale the fog was too much, as luck would have it the digger had filled the road in so we carried on past the thermal resort and through the first gates, up to the next station 4 km up, the Police were there so we waved and carried on looking very authoritative, they waved back like this guy -> .

It was only a little wet


Up to the lake ... pics, Police passed us, we caught up with the Police and followed them into Oyacachi, we continued down to roads end which was 24 km from the main drag.

BIG rains had demolished the road and the river wiped out the lot.

One digger and big bully parked there slowly making the road again but no bueno today

We turned around and went back a few km, 2.6 km outa town are Cabins so we bunked down there the night.

The cabins were being run by an 8 year old girl and a 13 year old boy as mum and dad were away and not back till the following night.

Fire lighter No 1

And her bro

We managed trade breakfast for tea, they run a trout farm so it was trout, rice, chips and salad all prepared by the young fella and his younger sister, talk about top notch.

This was followed up by sitting in front of an open fire watching Motorcycle Diaries ... good times.

The sun rose and we rode back, the construction crew placing pipework in for water for Qutio saw 200 - 300 women and men hand digging and laying pipework at around 4000 meters.

Some pics from the lake at mid point

Getting back to the rangers point the chain was across the road, Ellen hops off and drops the chain, the park ranger comes out not sure what to do, we say buenos (hello) and fit the chain back up and ride off with an authoritative smile and wave as he did back and everybody was happy.

Mr Park ranger was not sure what to do at all with a big orange alien with bright eyes and some people who "seemed" to know what they were doing so we just carried that through and it worked, we were however armed with toffee lollies if needed.

To say this park is stunning is an understatement, we stood there at the lake just taking the place in, it is one of those secluded quiet places that pulls the heart strings letting you know you really are alive.

Talking Ecuador .. Finally The Middle, The Border To Quito

Ecuador The Border To Quito

Arriving at the border we did the usual formalities, we also meet another couple of two weestroms which was cool, just on two hours we were set and on our way, again into a new country so having to relearn everything about it in a hurry.

Guess who had been here before us

We did a huge day of 17 km and settled in Tulcan for the night to get feet on the ground and suss out costs etc.

From Tulcan we went coastal enjoying a great ride through Ecuadorian jungle and heading to San Lorenzo, San Lorenzo wouldn’t be classed as a tourist stop but interesting none the less.

On the way they were doing massive road works, three diggers perched up on hillside just throwing bucket after bucket down, spectacular stuff, we sat on the road watching it for 40 minutes

The ride down the coast line was good sweeping through lush jungle and out to barren desert like areas, turning inland we headed for Quito to find out the lowdown on Ecuador from the lads at Freedom Rentals.

The very kindly spotted us a Tee shirt each and a key ring for Maya so now I have two formal going out shirts ... flash as Michael Jackson

We bunked down at Casa Helbling in Quito, what a great place that is with real Wifi and proper hot water and very very nice hosts.

We kicked around in Quito taking the city in, old town was beautiful.

Next up was Papallacta thermal pools.

Friday, 15 November 2013

We Are Very Lucky

It seems the equator was too hot for our house which caught fire at 3.30 am yesterday morning in New Zealand.

We have the house rented which is helping pay for our trip so we are on a diminishing timeline for when +/- equal is equal and we will have to go back home to work.

Thankfully the smoke alarms went off and our tenants were unharmed and a quick call to the fire service saw them turn up and extinguish the fire.

The cause of the fire is yet to be determined officially.

So, given the yellow pipe is the main gas feed in we consider ourselves extremely lucky there were no deaths and we still have a home to go to cos if that had burnt through it would have changed everyone's day

This is literally 1 meter from where Maya will live

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Cali To The Ecuador Border

A huge thanks to Raul and Jorge, you guys rock, you made Cali spectacular for us which was so cool.

Also a free punt for a good man

They have access to lots of touring stuff so you don't need to go without.

Now we are back to reality, heading south to the border after enjoying just short of 3 months in what can only be described as an utterly awesome country and fantastic people.

Mike from Motolumbia gave us some interesting back roads to go on rather than just carve up the Pan Am and they were great taking us through small villages and military blockades ... they were kinda taken when they saw us.

From Cali we took the back road to Suarez and headed up and over the top passing the reservoir, in places the road was very boggy and kinda slippery and the views epic.

The plan was to cross the road to Silvia but it was pissing down with no visibility and our road was shingle so we passed on it and sooked out down the last of the main drag.

Making it in to Popoyan we picked up our stuffed old fuel pump then continued south ending up at El Bordo for the night, not exactly a tourist trap but kinda cool.

Next day was only going to be a main drag blast, we decided to kick off the main drag and go via Policarpa, the road again had outstanding views and it was fookin hot.

Arriving ALMOST in Policarpa our day changed completely, we were stopped by Militars who said not going any further .... the FARC were having some sorta scrap with the Colombian Feds so NO ONE was going through to the main road on the old 25.

This is what Policarpa looks like ... at least from a distance

So, now we were officially on the worlds most dangerous road (forget Bolivia), these guys were playing for keeps with local vehicles etc being stopped and searching everyone and emptying out car contents, they were more concerned for our safety than us being a threat.

When the Police vehicle turned up from town they were also searched and checked the vehicle, the Militar guys then said we had to go back the way we came and that the Police vehicle would be only 5 minutes behind us and if we had trouble they will be there, normally we just brush off the “danger” bit but these guys on this day we talking a different language and were clearly not messing around so we heeded their warning with respect and turned around.

This is the one and only time in Colombia we thought yeap these guys are serious as well as curious, all other stops have been curiosity only (as well as their usual checkpoint stuff)

So back out and back down the Pan Am, I will add to that the Pan Am at this point is actually very nice as you ride through massive steep side valleys.

Pasto, that is where we ended up for the night, great chips.

Next on the agenda was the famous Las Lajas church just out of Ipiales built across the river, it was only a short ride for the day and we ended up staying right in the small township looking down on the BIG waterfall (yes there is a BIG waterfall Geoff) and the church.

We spent the afternoon there hovering around and relaxing, interesting several people have had trouble getting GPS there, we also pushed SPOT clocking in and that failed to so there are some confirmed dead spots around even in the open.

The church is a spectacular bit of work and well worth the visit, accommodation was $9 for the two of us including hot water and a comfy bed, Maya had her own 20 meter x 7 meter vinyled floor room to stay in.

The border, so yes the time came to finally say goodbye to Colombia and after spending just shy of 3 months there I wanted to spend another 3 months but the next corner is calling as well as a new country.

Farewell Colombia and Colombians, we had expectations of Colombia having been pumped up by fello travellers and it exceeded all expectations ....Colombia is even more dangerous than Mexico, Guatemala and El Salvador for not wanting to leave ....