Monday, 20 August 2012

Ecuador and the Equator!

Time to leave Ipiales Colombia and cross another border.. this time to Ecuador.

The weather is not looking too good but we're not interested in hanging around this border any longer than we have to.



The boys need to do a bank run.  Kevin gets the man with a million questions in Spanish.  His Spanish is getting better but I enjoy listening to the attempted answers.  Where are you from?  Escocia.. How long have you been traveling?  Cuatro meses..  Good job! It never fails, you can answer the first 2 questions right (because they are always the same) but then they think you totally understand Spanish and start talking very fast, which turns into just nodding and agreeing.

Then Patrick gets another group, and I got my fair share too.  Very curious guys here in Ipiales!



I spot a bit of lunch coming down the street early in the morning.  Going to be fresh! I'm going to guess that blue apron is butcher fashion wear.  ;-(((


Bienvenidos a Ecuador!



This was a nice and easy border crossing.. no worries.  Especially since they sold beer while you wait.  New country, new beer brands; which means we need to start tasting the Ecuadorian options to learn which one we will eventually like the best. 


Lucky me.. I get to stand in line forever with these two!


Papers stamped and we're free!



On top of the easy peasy border crossing, only another 230 easy peasy kilometers to Quito, the capital of Ecuador.  Along the way we stopped for a massive first Ecuadorian meal.  A roadside cafe, we went in and could not believe the prices!  A proper full on chicken lunch with salad, rice and papas fritas, was only $2.50 USD!!  Including a waiter to serve it all!

Knowing today is a slow day, we took a very long lunch.  By the time we made it to Quito it was already dark.  Didn't matter though.  What did matter was finding a hostel with secure parking.  Kevin had his Lonely Planet handy, and we rode around in circles trying to find a place.  We hired a taxi to help find a hostel for us with parking.  Where he took us was a long ride and when we eventually saw it, there was no way we were going to stay there. Super bad neighborhood.

We gave up on this taxi guy, continued looking by ourselves again. It just wasnt' happening.  We gave up again, and hired a second taxi driver.  He finally found one for us, or at least we thought.  While Patrick went in to check it out, number one, it had NO parking..our number 1 request!! Patrick was gone for quite a while so Kevin went into another hostel across the street just to check.  Parking!!!!!  Woo hoo!!  Cheap!!!  Woo hoo!!  $8 per night.  Great hostel, clean, nice owners, and super duper secure parking.  It took us 3 whole hours to find, but we did it!

One thing we really loved about our hostel was the view from the roof.

 Kevin's awesome night shot

I remember back in Central America, Kevin asking so seriously, "Where do you think we cross the equator?"...Um, that would be Ecuador, Kev!  A couple four letter words came, out.. duh! Too funny.

Even worse, when we got to Quito all three of us asked each other, "When did we cross the equator today and how did we miss it??"

I had got in contact with my Croatian friend Petar Rikic, who was already here. We met up today and decided to go find this equator line for fun.  It's not every day you cross from the northern to the southern hemisphere.


From asking around in Quito, we learned that they don't make a big deal about the equator marker on the main road from Colombia.  There is a marker outside of Quito called La Mitad del Mundo, which most tourists go to. But we are told this spot is not actually ON the equator.  They screwed up and it's a few hundred meters off.  So we asked where is the ACTUAL line?  It's on a totally different road, so we got the best instructions we could and went for a day ride from Quito.



And here it is!!  In the photo we have 2 of us in the northern, and 2 in the southern hemisphere.

Me, Patrick, Kevin and Petar

There was a local man who showed us the egg.  He said if you put the egg right on the equator, the gravitational pull from both sides will allow the egg to stand up. Is this true? Patrick gave it a go first.


Patrick was good!  He could do it right away!  Kevin was bloody hopeless, ha!  He couldn't get that egg to stand up for anything.  It took me a little bit, but I got it.


One last photo with the bike itself in both hemispheres.. woo hoo!  This is the first time I have been in the southern hemisphere since I left home in June 2010. I went directly from Australia to Japan and then on up.


We had a super fun ride back.  All I can say is that it was like a dodge-em game at the carnival.  We swerved and weaved our way through super heavy traffic back into Quito and back to the hostel.


A bit of bike works for Patrick and Petar.. changing out Patricks chain.  I know, exciting stuff.



We had a day off and Kevin went on a mission to find the local Harley shop, hoping he can get some parts for his Buell.  He recently blew a front fork seal and he wanted another spare belt for his belt-drive engine.  I got to stay and have a computer day at the hostel.. yay!

Within moments I start receiving messages.  He went to the shop at 10:30 AM and found they're not open until 12. "Okay!"  Next message, "I hate waiting, I'm going to early lunch, will send another message when I get there.  "Okay!" The shop finally opened up, a couple more unhappy messages.  The last message was the best.  "I just got thrown out of the Harley shop, see you soon..."  Lord have mercy, what happened....!?

When he came back to the hostel, he explained "The German owner was a real a__ hole, so I got pissed and told him his Harley shop is just a glorified t-shirt shop." The guy called security and escorted him out.. Ha!  I wish I was there, really.  If this would have happened to me, I would have been grumpy.  But Kevin came back to the hostel, laughing more than anything, brushed off the conflict and asked what I wanted to do the rest of the day.

I can always do computer stuff later, so we headed out to explore Quito together.


First up, the biggest church ever (you can see in the background).  We had talked to a couple guests at our hostel and they recommended we climb the stairs in the towers for the best city views. Grabbed the camera and out the door!


This church is called La Basilica del Voto Nacional.  It's the largest gothic basilica in all of Latin America.





(I didn't know I was being watched while climbing the tower.. ;-)




I've been in a lot of different churches around the world, and I have to say this one is truly world class.

As we wandered around more, we've been eyeing the large Angel on the hill ever since we got here.  The locals tell us by no means go up there, we will be robbed.  So much for the Angel's protection, which is usually why they put them there to watch over the city!

We are not ones to listen, but we did decide just to be somewhat safe to go by taxi.  It's not far and won't cost hardly anything.


The taxi driver explained to us good choice, because they actually have a guard at the stairs forbidding tourists to climb up to this Angel.  The robberies are that bad.

We had a little look around, took a couple photos.  On the taxi ride down the hill, Kevin and I are sitting in the back talking away.  I'm on the right he's on the left, however sitting very close to me thank goodness.  My head was turned toward him talking and I feel somebody on my left.  What the heck?  A man was reaching in the taxi window to steal my big Nikon camera which I had around my neck.  Kevin's fist came up that fast, so the guy took off, not getting my camera.  Gee whiz, that unnerved me a bit.  A good wake up call that the locals were not just trying to scare us. The economy is bad here and they will take anything and everything.  Lesson learned and will be more aware now...

Kevin says, "You need a beer..." Ha, no doubt!  We wandered around until we found a roof top restaurant in...... you guessed it..... the Lonely Planet!

It was a cool old building with a super fun elevator!


Despite the fact I look totally drunk driving the elevator already, it's really just a bad shot. We haven't even made it up to the bar yet! But I wanted to include it because we are goofing around having fun despite the robbery attempt.. See you!


2 comments:

  1. Really enjoying reading your blogs and following your travels, have been right back to the beginning, such an awesome adventure, not got through it all yet, but awaiting our trip to Bolivia in October.

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  2. Are you sure you hadn't had anything to drink yet? ha ha. Nice pictures, love the bike on both sides of the equator.

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