We crossed the border into Ecuador twice as we failed to get stamped out of Peru. But what a difference a country makes. Our faces slowly untwisted from hyped aggression to one of ease and joy once we were a few kilometers into Ecuador, enjoying the sublime roads and the easygoing drivers.
The scowl was permanently erased once settled in a quiet hotel on the road as the rain was starting to hit us hard. The following day we got caught out again in the showers and was lucky to find a very charming inn for coffee and artisan cheeses. Once there was a break in the weather we hurried on our way. Axel all of a sudden pulled over to ask if we had paid for the coffees and as I realized we had run from the bill and leant in to answer Axel, I lost balance and the fox took a nap in the middle of the road. Maybe a case of bad karma?
By now we had learned that you take the picture first before picking up the bike and brushing down the red faced biker.
We spent a few days in Cuenca, an incredible charming colonial city in the Ecuadorian Andes known for it’s artisanal handicrafts including the infamous Panama Hat. Yes folks, the real deal is made in Cuenca, Ecuador…not Panama.
In the sprawling and very stylish capital Quito, we settled in a private apartment in the Flores quarter in the city for a few days to take in the cultural charm and soak up the very laid back nature of the big city and it’s super friendly people.
Axel had previous lived in Quito and contacted an old friend of his who invited us to the Amazon with his family.
We went to Laguna Azul near Tena and had a play in the stunning rock pools.
Ecuador definitely charmed us with it’s lovely climate, beautiful volcanoes and the kindest people and it was with a mix of reluctance and excitement that we finally made our way northwards towards the Colombian border.
Colombia has been very high on my wishlist of countries to visit for some time, not least because of it’s rumored beauty but also because I have an insatiable thirst for for beans. Coffebeans!
We stayed in Otavalo in Ecuador a couple of days to man up for yet another border crossing into Colombia. Otavalo is famous for hosting the largest outdoor, artisan market in the South America.
Approaching the Colombian border we pulled in to secure the bikes before joining the immigration queue. Maneuvering the bike into its parking spot, I pulled up over a small kerb, lost balance and went down to meet the tarmac yet again.
Crossing the border into Colombia was fairly straight forward and the customs official was very careful to make sure we understood the consequences of overstaying our welcome in Colombia.
Flash back to a small village in Peru, called Huanaco, I think. There, we met a french guy who was south-bound on a small motorcycle. Judging by his demeanor and general appearance – a well traveled gentleman. His way of describing Colombia was: “It’s just like Disneyland”.
Our first impression of Colombia was not Disneyland though. We stopped for the night in the border town of Ipiales. Border towns will be border towns. Not the most charming experience. The following day we sought shelter in a small village called El Bordo where they served the chicken without cutlery but gave you a pair of plastic gloves instead…quite handy actually. Ipiales was rather charming in comparison. However, soon we arrived in Cali which had lots of shenanigans on offer including salsa dancing and an impromptu invitation to a birthday bash. The people of Cali took good care of us!
Leaving Cali, we made our way into the Zone Cafetera, the famous Coffee region of Colombia. We stayed in the very charming village of Salento and consumed copious amounts of the brown stuff amongst the mustachioed, poncho wearing coffee farmers.
The resemblance of Disneyland started to appear though, as we approached Medellin with its slightly gimmicky feel and well-shaped people. Colombia is the fifth highest nation of people going under the knife, so the perfectly shaped butt is always within eyeshot. The colombians are extremely proud of their plastic surgery and show it off in style.
Everyday we were checking the weather forecast for Central America and the radar showed large magenta blobs every single day. the thought of central america in torrential rain and more reggaeton made us consider what other options were on offer. Given the time of year we started fantasizing about northern hemisphere summers and decided to head for north america.
More about how we arranged shipping out of Colombia and the associated nightmare next time.
See you out there!