The Ten

The Ten

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Dropping from the sky: from mountains to beach.

Leaving Banos, the road once more climbed up into the Andes and away from the Amazon basin. The temperature dropped over the high passes; but this was a day of up, down and around as the road wound its sinuous way via Riobamba south to Cuenca. Gorgeous riding yet again, barely a straight line all day, just curve after perfect curve. It was back to the single rather than dual carriageway for most of the day, with very light traffic. This is the "Pan-American", right? Give me more!

And so to Cuenca, third largest city in Ecuador and another Spanish colonial masterpiece. But this is a bike trip; my thrills come from the road, not from the tourist trail (pretty though it undoubtedly is). One night and then a morning of taking in the main sites (more churches) and it was load up and head off back on the road.

South and West dropping out of the Andes (for now) towards the coast and the border with Peru. Another beautiful run, although the tarmac was a work in progress in places. From Cuenca, to the border town of Huaquillas, there is an over one and a half mile drop in altitude. The heat rising as the mountains dissipate to the coastal plain. Lush vegetation takes over and banana plantations appear.

A night in the dull border town of Huaquillas, so that I would have plenty time to cross the border into Peru the next day (as I'd heard it could be slow). No petrol stations on the way to the border; OK, fill up in Peru, as I'm running on fumes now. Stopped at the first border post and was waved through to the one up the road where you stamp out of Ecuador and into Peru at the same desk. This was slow, the queue barely moving and only one person stamping people out the country, and she was in no hurry. As I reached the front of the queue, an efficient border official took over (where were you an hour ago??). Anyway, I'm out of Ecuador and into Peru, yes!! Ehh, no. "Go back to Ecuador", while I had officially crossed the border, my bike hadn't. Back to the first border post (where I was waved through earlier) to get the bike stamped out. Back to the Peru border post to get the bike stamped into Peru, but not before they sold me obligatory motor insurance. All in all about 2 1/2 hours doing the border dance and I was free to head for the beach: Mancora, surf city, Peru! Make that more a surf shanty town full of hippies and trustafarians. Still, there are worse places to relax for a few days.



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