Couple things here: First, notice the boxers hanging from Kelly's handlebars. Clothes don't dry quite as quick at 9,000ft, wind-dry method was a smashing success though. Second, we're stopped at a gas station for water and some Powerade to try and rehydrate. Some friendly mechanics came and started asking us about our trip and one went and bought a big bottle of sweet black tea with lime, because "it's way better than that," he said pointing at the Powerade. He was right, it's delicious, and caffienated.
Our first camp spot in Ecuador, outside an Organic fertilizer and grain warehouse. After more than a month in hot, muggy lowlands where the bugs will make you look pox-stricken in a matter of minutes, it felt amazing to get reacquainted with our tent. On this yearlong trip, it's the closest thing we have to a home.
Kelly doing the one pot dinner routine, now with unleaded gasoline as our fuel source. Like a lot of Latin America, Ecuadorian cuisine centers around meat. Rice and veggies may be delicious but cooking our own food is the only way for Kelly to get reliable protein. Here we have some rice, eggs, cheese, and onions. Oh so delicious, and calorific.
We can't describe how amazing it feels to be so cold in the morning that you have to put a jacket and hat on. Coffee and bread provided by the three guys who work in the warehouse, one of which may or may not have Cerebral Palsy, but either way has a pretty wicked pimp limp. The guys working here were super friendly and just seemed stoked that we were traveling through their country. Fortunately for us, this attitude seems to be the norm here in Ecuador. Makes all the minor difficulties of travel seem pretty inconsequential.
A Colombian family that stopped us to say hi and give us some natural sugar cane candies. The guy behind the camera did his own tour from Colombia to Argentina. The story behind the smile is that Kelly is suffering pretty bad from altitude sickness. Dizzy and nauseous every time she really has to exert herself, which, with the weight she's carrying, is every hill. First time for a long time that we've had to take breaks because Kelly was feeling like shit. Obviously she wasn't a fan.
We knew Colombia had a huge cycling culture but didn't realize that it would continue over the border into northern Ecuador. Seen all sorts of fancy, lycra-clad folk racing along the PanAmerican. After a huge, 3,000ft descent into a river valley, we saw a pack of racers, dark skin, light skin, blonds, brunettes, all of whom were flying towards the hill we'd just come down and rode with the effortless speed of people who pedal for a living. They were all wearing blue and yellow jersey's that looked suspiciously like Team Astana (a perennial power on the European racing circuit). Looks like Ecuador may be the ideal location for a winter training camp.
The nun who runs this place is fantastic. She decided we should camp under the balcony because it looked like it might rain, opened a dorm room so Seth could use a bathroom without having to go downstairs, and brought us eggs, bread, and coffee in the morning. Oh, and she had a yellow lab named Rocky so Kelly could get her dog fix. Rocky spent most of the evening trying to hump Kelly's leg, but such is life I suppose...
At the bottom we were right back in the tropics. Most of the population down here is African ancestry, apparently way back in the day the Jesuits brought black workers from the coast to tend the agricultural fields in the Chota Valley, and now they're the majority in this one little region of andean Ecuador. Amazing how quirks of migration and geography can have such a big impact on demographics when given a long enough history.