I am sitting in the airport in Portland ready to board a flight to Quito. Shipped my versys out several weeks ago and it is scheduled to arrive in Quito on thurs. I have two months to cover as much of South America as I can.
If you followed my last trip, Portland to panama to?, you know my lack of Spanish and love of food leads to some fun and silly times.
Unfortunately the bulk of my posting and pictures this time will be on my business Facebook page,
I will check in here from time to time just to let you know I am alive.
I am still waiting on confirmation that my bike has shipped out of Miami. Talked to a live person today. They had lost some paperwork and needed some other stuff. I got that sent over and they promised they would be on it first thing in the morning. That would be nice but my hope is not to high.
Played a little pick up basketball ball today. I lasted about 5 minutes then had to sit for 5 then back to try again. 5 in, 5 out. Try going from sea level in Oregon City to 9400 feet in Quito. The air is mighty thin and the man is getting old.
I talked with the cargo freight company this morning and the guy who has been mis-handling my crated motorcycle shipping process was fired. My paperwork was incomplete and not in order so the customs processing had to start over. The soonest the paperwork will be complete is the 15th and the next plane available that will accept my crated bike flies on the 19th.
Plan B is going into effect.
There is a work and witness coordinator working from the campus where I am staying. I offered my weak back and dim wit to him and I start cutting steel and welding trusses tomorrow. I am being paid by the thank you and have permission to cut and run whenever opportunity presents itself. A work team from Havasu City is flying in tomorrow night and I will be heading to the jobsite with them. We will be building a new church building for a young church here in Quito.
My hosts are more than generous and have offered me a bed and three squares till my bike gets here. I am going to try hard to earn my keep (fixed the crock pot and the diswasher today) and not wear out my welcome.
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.
Early afternoon my Quito sunshine departed and I am riding through clouds. Clouds turne to thick fog and rain. The fog is thick and I ride for several hours at 35 mph with the visor up so I could almost see. My light jacket began to soak through so found a safe place to pull over and gear up. Didn't think I would be pulling out the rain gear on the first day. My teeth hurt from being clenched for hours.
Broke out of the rain for the last 20 miles to Cuenca. What a giggle.
Pulled in about 4 pm and headed for the city center and started driving in circles. Found a better than decent hotel with a garage and breakfast for $24. Forth floor and no elevator. At 8200 feet it requires stopping to catch your breath twice while carrying up luggage. I found out later that is the hotel recommended by my host in Quito.
Showered and headed out for a walk around the neighborhood. Everything is for sale including the traditional guinea pig on a stick. I settled for the empanadas, bananas, pan and cola.
I stumbled onto one area where indigenous women were apparently practicing traditional medicine. They were beating small children with bundles of herbs while rolling eggs and some kind of fruit over there little bodies. Must have been ok for the kids. There was a line to get in and none of the children were crying.
Earplugs tonight. Someone in the next room keeps yelling “Scooooorrrre!!!!”
Reaching a goal comes with mixed emotions. Wow. I did it. The end of the road. Now what? Take a picture. Turn around. Head north. Head home. Figure out how to get home.
We drive around town, take some pictures, have some coffee, take a few more pictures, then head north.
I don't have any more words to describe the wind. It would be nice to actually spend a day riding the bike in an upright position. Today Mother Nature adds rain and Chile adds dirt roads. I would be happy to never see dirt road again. Both of my front seals are leaking profusely. This has turned into a tough trip on both bike and rider.
We are pushing as hard as the wind and rain will allow to make it through Chile and back to Argentina tonight. The gas station we need closed 15 minutes before we got there. There is a too nice hotel close by and since last night was a freebee I work a deal with Ernesto to get out off the weather. Long hard successful day.
For the whole story and to find out how I wrecked my Versys go to: