Day 99 - November 9th

This morning we woke up early with the intention of doing a long day of riding and making it to the coast. Turns out our laundry wasn't finished yet, so the morning turned into a slow, waiting one. Oh well, at least we tried. After a breakfast and some hanging around, some workers at the hostel excitedly came outside with me to my bike. They wanted to do  photoshoot for Hostel Killasumaq's Facebook page, so we all gathered around the motorbike and snapped a couple pics! After another coffee break, the laundry finally showed up and we got on the road.

Driving out of Quito was a bit less confusing than our arrival, which was probably due to the fact we were fresh and not tired from a long drive. We only took a wrong turn once! The roadways were once again very nice and manageable, and if I had a better knowledge of the names of upcoming towns, it would have been a breeze.

While driving on the pan American highway, we were passed by a jeep with some people waving frantically at us, looking super stoked. After looking a bit closer, we realised it was Will and Andrea from Cali! What a small world! They asked where we were going, and at that point, we really didn't know. So we convoyed with them for a bit (and they took some photos) before they turned off.

Several km later, we saw the signs for Latacunga, which was where we left the pan American. This was near the base of Cotopaxi, the tallest volcano on Ecuador (which is also still active!) Unfortunately, we couldn't see the peak, so we didn't get a view of the active eruption. From here, the road became amazing. It twisted up the side of the valley, delivering spectacular views and beautifully linked switchback corners. The road was well maintained and awesome as well. The dry mountain rain shadow left only shrubs and bushes beside the road, but even with such a dry climate, the elevation made the drive very cold. We didn't quite get snow, like Cotopaxi has, but I swear it was close to cold enough.

After coming over the summit of the pass, the dryness continued, but with rolling farmland and steep canyons. It was a terrain combo like nothing I had ever seen before. And it was still cold! I thought we were at the equator? We stopped for lunch in Zumbahua, a small town in the middle of nowhere. Steep peaks towered above us right beside the dry farmland, continuing the weird plateau-canyon-summit combo. And the chicken lunch was really good!

After lunch, we continued onward and eventually reached "Reserva Ecologica Los Ilinizas", which was a more rainforesty area. This section was complete with thick fog and more beautiful corners. The roadway here, while still well built, was a bit rough in spots. The rain, combined with the steep slopes, caused a few landslides onto the roadways, making every turn a bit of a surprise. Nothing the ol' Kawi couldn't handle though! We also passed a bunch of farmers walking their sheep and alpacas, which is always a lot of fun to see.

After a fee hours of that, we arrived in Quevedo. This town was only to serve as a night stop between Quito and Puerto Lopez, as it was kind of a dump. We found a cheap hotel that had everything we needed... Except parking. No problem, one block away was secure, guarded, 24 hour underground parking at city hall. Perfect! One dollar got us some of the most secure parking we had had in a while - the security booth was literally 5 metres from the bike. Boom! Sold.

For supper we went to a place nearby and had some very good Mexican food, and tolerable coffee, all at a cheap price. I consider that another win of the day. After that, we went to grab some cervezas. We were recommended to head over to the super market... Turns out we don't know what a supermarket is. We found the clothing store. Asking workers in the store where the cervezas were led to weird looks and pointing at the stairs... Perfect! Let's try the second floor... Oh wait, that's just the kids section. Stupid gringos. After longer than it should have taken, we finally found the cerveza store. Grabbing a half sack, we went back to the hotel to catch up on blog posts and diary entries. Besides the crappy destination town, the day proved to be a great one.

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