Ecuador is quickly becoming one of my favorite countries in South America. Lush green hillsides teeming with corn and other crops are a delight for this mid-western girl to see. Since we’re riding through the mountains, ranging from 8-11.5K ft elevation, the temps are very pleasant. This is delightful since I had worried about riding in equatorial heat. Had our route taken us along the coast, we would have had to deal with much higher temps.
My GPS says that our home in Atlanta is 2562 miles to the north. Ushuaia, Argentina, the “Fin del Mundo,” is 3627 miles to the south. It’s hard to believe that we’re over 1000 miles closer to home than to where we were in southern SA. South America is a very long continent and we’ve ridden a long way!
The farther into Ecuador we travel, the nicer the cars, more beautiful the homes, less trash cluttering the road sides and the fatter the cattle. Unlike Peru, we’re not seeing 3-wheel moto taxis. The locals do drive faster in those nice newer cars. That’s not necessarily good, just a data point.
Had it not been so mountainous, in one town I would have thought that I was in Olivia, MN. A giant cob of corn, here called “El Choclo,” stood proudly circled by a garden of colorful flowers. A similar statue graces Olivia. Pampas Grass, used as a decorative landscape element in the USA grows on hillsides. I’m sure its strong root structure helps control erosion and landslides.
When David, Chuck, Alfred and I stopped for a snack, a bus full of Ecuadoran troops stopped for breakfast.
Our shorter riding day allowed us to stroll through Cuenca. With its old and new cathedrals and well restored colonial style buildings surrounding a manicured town square, it is easy to understand why it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. With my Czech heritage, I found it interesting that the 3 blue and white domes of the new cathedral were covered with tile from Czechoslovakia.
The smell of roasting bananas perked up my nose as I walked back to the beautiful Hotel Victoria, our home for the evening. A young lady was roasting and selling plantains, with or without cheese stuffing. I opted for “con queso.” It was delicious. Each day a new adventure – sometimes involving food.
28-Feb Loja to Cuenca Ecu 140 miles
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