The Long Way to Ecuador

In Pasto we find a new camera. For $1.50 I have a new zipper sewn into my front bag. For the same price, a new brake lever. Things come back together. We slowly make our through Pasto, stopping at the cafes on every corner.

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Everyone is talking about Ecuador. Supplies are being amassed to send south. A woman arrives at our hotel. She was camping on the beach when the earthquake hit.

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Pasto is only a day’s ride from Ecuador, but we’re not ready to leave Colombia. We detour around Volcan Galeras. Holstein cows dot the hillside. Fresh cheese and yogurt is found in every town. The road drops a bit in elevation and coffee plants cling to the hillsides amid plantains and sugar cane.

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It’s only a short ride to Sandona where we stop for the day. Suddenly, there’s a crash. I turn and see a man in the air and a woman laying on the ground. Neither stopped to look both ways at the intersection and they crashed their motos. A crowd forms. The man is up and moving around. The woman is not. She’s carried off on a back board, then put into a truck bed. I am told there’s a hospital in town. Everyone has motos here. It’s how they get around. I’m surprised this is the first crash we have seen.

Our brakes have been making a racket. We take a few things apart and inspect them. Tyndall declares his rear set toast. Then says mine are just as bad. We only have one spare set until we arrive in Quito. He gets the new ones and we shuffle the front pads from my bike to the rear, trying to eek out a bit more life. I’m told to brake when really necessary. It’s only the Andes. It’s fine.

Sandona has a Saturday market. Whatever you need, it’s there.

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Our detour around the volcano spits us out onto the PanAm. Tyndall’s Dad emails. He has made dinner reservations for May 1 at 7:00 pm in Quito. It’s time to get a move on.

For awhile, we follow the PanAm. It’s a particularly scenic section and past Pedregal the traffic diminishes. It’s Sunday and road bikers from Ipiales are out. They are all men. I wonder where the women are, but then see three up ahead, carrying bundles of reeds on their shoulders.

Only 20 kilometers short of the border, we dip off the highway. There’s a small dirt road on the map, paralleling the highway but on the other side of the valley. It has to be better than this. It is.

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Where we rode: Pasto – Sandona – Pedregal – San Juan – Potosi – Ipiales

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