Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Day 14: Last Andes pass

Leaving Cuenca Ecuador, we took the southernmost route heading back to the coast. This route was through a national park that displayed a picturesque climb to our last Andes pass.

Jordan forgot to fuel up in Cuenca and Ruby only has a 1.5 gallon tank, good for only about 130 km. The beautiful but lonely scenery distracted us from being conscious of our predicament when Ruby ran out of power. Oh oh, how far are we from the summit? Jordan tipped the bike onto its side to slop whatever little gas there was in the tank to see if we could coax us to the top. We saw a ranger station, and they informed us we were only 2 km from the top and could coast down the other side till we found gas, so off we went for the top. But about 100 m from the summit, Ruby finished the last fumes and said, "Sorry, no more!" Right there were 3 llamas nonchalantly grazing on the sparse high altitude vegetation...

...and after taking photos, we pushed Ruby the last 100 m to the top. We jumped on and coasted for about 4 km and almost missed a small road sign that said "Gasolina" with a lonely hidden restaurant in the bushes which was not much more than a shack. Sure enough she had what we needed and away we went.

We were soon riding above some clouds and looking at them down below us. Then we descended until we were right into the cloud cover with increasing density that necessitated a stop for rain gear. What an experience! Right in the middle of the thick clouds! We had to put our cameras away to protect them from the dampness and then proceed slowly and carefully. (Click to make larger, if you wish.)

As we travelled through the cloud cover, we unfortunately couldn't see what would have been great views of the mountains. but We continued on our descent into an ever increasing tropical flora. When we hit the low flat lands, the moisture relented, and the temperature was quite warm for our run out to the coast and the largest city of Ecuador, Guayaquil. Here was a large, unappealing, busy city where we grabbed a cheap hotel to call it quits for the day.

Only made 182 km today.

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