2016-11-13 – Jour 63 – Popoyan, CO à Otavalo, EC (493 km – 10:00 hrs)
2016-11-14 – Jour 64 – Otavalo, EC à Quito, EC (101 km – 2:00 hrs)
2016-11-15 – Jour 65 – Quito, EC
2016-11-16 – Jour 66 – Quito, EC
My last hours in Colombia were spent on an absolutely splendid road! There was a lot of traffic, but the beauty of the surrounding mountains, often very steep, made the end of my visit of Colombia a beauty.
I left early on the morning of November 13th to try to get to Ecuador, more precisely, to the city of Popoyan.
It meant an itinerary of at least 9 hours, plus the time to get through the border.
I had the chance to get relatively favourable weather, with just a bit of rain here and there.
I nevertheless had to make a couple of stops, among which one was to take out warmer gloves which had been hidden at the bottom of a bag for weeks! Indeed, the temperature went down below 10 degrees at high altitude. The mountains were impressive and I as I went over one of the summits, on a road which I considered to be secondary, a big city, Pasto, appeared, to my big surprise, in just a few seconds. I so much did not expect to see a city of this size at this moment and place.
The border crossing to Ecuador was possibly the easiest since the beginning of my trip. 10 minutes to get out of Colombia, and 30 minutes to enter Ecuador. No fees, no document to fill and nice smiley officials to welcome me in! I even got a tourist map. That’s a first!
What a contrast with what I lived since my departure.
But the word contrast was going to take quite other turn as I entered in the country.
Having worked extremely hard the past few weeks on the roads of Colombia, I am now on a motorway, often with 3 lanes on each side, with a tarmac in perfect condition. I can quickly see 2 things. There are no more motorbike around me and the drivers have a minimum of courtesy and seem to me much less audacious and dangerous.
The road goes up gradually, to an impressive region in high altitude. The road is modern and leaves speechless! Wow, what an incredible contrast. The best word to describe my feelings after a few hours’ driving in Ecuador is relief. I am finally capable of relaxing a bit on the road, looking at the landscape, slowing down without being honked at or dangerously passed.
I even see at some point, a spot build to make a stop and to take pictures!
I am also a impressed by the landscape contrast between the 2 countries. Here, it is really a high altitude scenery. I drive at more than 3500 metres in some spots.
At some point, I take a road towards the city of Otavalo and am finding myself on an urban boulevard with sometimes 4 lanes on each side!!!
Otavalo is a kind of a suburb of Cotacachi. Its city centre is modest, but well organized. With a little bit of luck, I quickly find a hotel room in an OK place, which has a big parking for my motorbike and that is located in the centre of town (Hotel Coraza). For 18$, I get a room with Internet and hot water!
I then go for a walk see immediately that the population is much more indigenous, with a very dark skin and wearing traditional clothes. The women carry their children in cloths over their shoulders and their nice big hats remind me of Bolivia.
People are a little more distant, less smiling. I felt that right from my contact with the men at the hotel.
When I cross people in the street, no smiles nor a salutation. Something else than I saw it is that it is much calmer than Colombia. There is a good presence on streets, but no horns, no motorbikes which passes you nearly over your toes, nobody goes thru red lights. It would be a lie to say that I did not appreciate this almost calmness.
The following day, I leave towards Quito where I reserved a flat on airbnb.com. A first one for me.
It exceeds my daily budget, but I will take advantage of the kitchen to cook my meals. It will also give me the chance to look at my options for next few days in Ecuador, because I really do not have a planned route.
The road towards the capital is also impressive and in perfect in every condition. The only thing to be mentioned is that I must once again get accustomed to stop at toll booths! A big 0,20 $ every time! In fact, the problem is not so much having to pay, but the hassle to take out money from my jacket. Not so obvious on a motorcycle.
Entering Quito is far easier than Cali or Medellín. The many motorists (very few motorbikes) are much calmer.
I meet Maria at 13h00 and she gives me the keys of a flat which is on the 7th floor of a relatively modern building in a district called La Zona, filled with bars and restaurants. There are also many schools, which makes it very dynamic.
I used these couple of days to visit this district, but also the centre, located about an hour’s walk away. I also walked around twenty kilometres every day, which was nice, because I’m starting to feel thw kilograms adding on, due to the lack of exercise!
The city is huge and has European feel to it. The old centre mysteriously reminds me of some cities in Italy.
It is also a pleasure walking all these streets, in a big city, without the presence of almost continual honking. Here, once again, it is much calmer and orderly. Strange not?
Here are some pictures of the city which was a big and nice surprise. I did not expect this level of historical quality of the buildings and the atmosphere which is found there. One of the nice city centres I have seen in Latin America.
A volunteer to drive this bus in the streets of Quito?!
As you can see, I was also blessed with sun!!!
Finally! I stopped at Euromotorbike to see if tires were available. The model which I was looking for was available in the right size for my motorbike, but for 750$US, ouch, I think I’ll pass! I ended up reserving the same tires at Touratech Lima, in Peru, for 370$ US. I now understand how the nice roads are financed!
2016-11-17 - Day 67 - Quito, EC to Quilotoa, EC (166 km - 3:30 hrs) 2016-11-18 - Day 68 - Quilotoa, EC to Baños, EC (157 km - 3:30 hrs) 2016-11-19 - Day 69 - Baños, EC to Cuenca, EX (336 km - 5:30 hrs) 2017-11-20 - Day 70 - Cuenca, EC Leaving ... Read more
2016-11-04 - Day 54 - Barichara, CO to Villa de Leyva, CO (198 km - 3:40 hrs) 2016-11-05 - Day 55 - Villa de Leyva, CO to Medellín, CO (419 km - 8:40 hrs) 2016-11-06 - Day 56 - Medellín, CO 2016-11-07 - Day 57 - Medellín, CO to Jardin, ... Read more