Wednesday I got the news that my bike has been cleared for shipping and is booked on Lan Cargo for Saturday. I am not quite sure I am ready to believe it. The paper work and title to claim my bike arrives by Fedex on Friday. The shipper gave me a name of a cargo processor in Quito to assist me with claiming my bike and getting it through customs. Turns out he only deals with containers and wishes me good luck. That night I am awake for hours running all the scenarios through my mind. I find a number for the local Lan Cargo office. Anticipating Spanish, my host Dwight calls. The clerk on the other end outlines a fairly simple process and says my crate will be available on Monday morning. This is actually going to happen. I am sleeping like a baby.
We start the process to free my bike Monday at 8 am. Stop for gas and arrive just before Lan cargo opens. 20 minutes, $30, and we are cleared to go to customs. When we finally clear customs we check several warehouses to locate my crate. I see it buried behind dozens of other crates. We are informed it cannot be checked there but needs to be moved 20 feet to the right, it is lunch time and we will see you at 2 pm. After lunch, more waiting. Finally $66 later, I have cleared customs and the cargo warehouse. It is 4:50 pm and I am riding my bike into the loco streets of Quito.
Took off about 7:15 am January 22, 2013. I am immediately in a traffic jam. I slowly work my way between cars trucks buses, bumping more than a few mirrors with my panniers. Miss my first turn get turned around and line up at the starting line off what appears to be a race. The policeman gives a wave and I pull second place. What a giggle.
Using a bypass highway I manage to break free of Quito in about an hour.
Ecuador is a beautiful country of snow capped peaks and broad valleys. The foothills look like patchwork quilts. I start to get a chill and check my altimeter. 11455 feet. The next chill hits me at 11774 feet.
I saw some chickens on a spit in a small restaurant, and it looked good. I think I got yesterday chicken. Nothing like chicken jerky to carry you to your next meal.
A parade went by while I was having lunch. I have seen a lot of parades like these. A few instruments, a few people in costume dancing, traffic working its way around the revelers. No apparent reason and nobody watching.