With 300 miles on today’s route, I was delighted to see new, concrete, roads through much of the day. This allowed me to focus on the incredible scenery. Our first beautiful view was the fruit plate at the elegant Hotel Victoria. Beautiful homes were seen regularly. One big difference that at home is that lovely Ecuadoran homes will have laundry drying right outside the front door. Corn and other garden vegetables grow right up to the houses, places where grass would usually be found.
One modest home was located on top of a hill. It must have an incredible view. I couldn’t help but speculate on how much that property would cost in the USA or Europe.
Ecuadorans use their mountainous terrain to its fullest. Entire hillsides look like patchwork quilts of varying shades of green and brown. Unlike spring in the USA, where all plants of a kind, such as corn, look about the same, here the climate is everlasting summer. While one field is being plowed, the adjacent patch may be 1 ft high. Finally, my question as to how the farmers work those fields at such steep angles. Two oxen or similar animals were pulling a plow high up the hillside.
Within 1 hour’s riding, I saw a brilliant green hillside. On the other side of the mountain, the foliage was significantly more brown. A forest of evergreen trees came next. Great variety of scenery – although not all of it pleasant. At least 50 cars and trucks had gathered around a bridge located in the middle of a down hill turn. Curiosity set in so I parked the bike and walked to see what was the big deal. A truck had been coming down the hill, broke through the edge of the bridge and tumbled at least 100 ft into a ravine, just missing a stream. Whole bags of grain were being transferred to another truck. Locals were using any containers available to scrape up the grain from the ground, no doubt for their own use. One older lady, wearing a full skirt, long braids, and a traditional hat, had gathered splintered pieces of the wooden frame of the truck. I wondered if the wood would be used for cooking and heating in her home. Fearful that this wreck surely represented a fatality, I asked an observing police officer about the driver. He indicated that there was no death and that all that had happened to the driver was a cut above one eye. The officer then pointed to the sky and made the Sign of the Cross.
While eating my treat from an ice cream shop, I strolled next door to see a vegetable garden and see what type of bedding plants were offered for sale. If I were in Georgia right now, I’m sure our bathroom would be full of little green plants emerging under the grow lights. Not this year. Today was a day I would have liked to been riding and visiting with Julian. The “Crop Doc” who decided to return home after a tough crash on the gravel in Argentina would no doubt have great insights regarding the issues facing these farmers.
Ecuador is an oil producing country and the gas prices were delightful when we arrived in Quito. Regular at $1.45/gallon and Premium for $1.95/gallon are the best we’ve seen during our entire 3 ½ months of traveling. It’s been a long time that $5.15 of gas has filled my tank after 200 miles of riding. From what I’ve heard from home, these prices would be very popular in Atlanta.
1-March Cuenca to Quito 305 miles
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