Before we fly home to Germany we stay a few days in Cuenca to recover from stresses and strains of the last days which were not just uneventfully with a few days staying in a hospital and an armed robbery in Quito.
Cuenca has a very lovely city center and motivates for longer walks. Thanks God I still have my old Olympus camera which now comes to new honors. The famous Panama hats are produced in Ecuador and Cuenca is one major place of production. In the “museo de sombreros” we learn everything about the production process and at the end we both buy a nice hat for ourselves. So did Humphrey Bogart and Julia Roberts. No question who looks better....
On the 17th of January we fly to Germany and look forward to see our kids, relatives and friends. Time goes by quickly and at 1st of March we are back in Ecuador. During our absence we parked MOMO secure at a friendly Ecuadorian family.
We stay another few days in Cuenca to adopt to the climate and spent our time with Leo & Lisbeth two other overlanders with a similar car than ours. MOMO also gets secure lamination for the front windows to exclude the bad boys.
But at some point in time the journey continues and optimistically enough we want to spend a few days in the Cajas National Park on 4000m. One must know that `s rainy season at the moment and the weather changes a few times during the day. So we are welcomed from very low temperatures which reminds us on our visit in Germany. In addition we encounter strong winds and heavy rain. According to this our stop in the national park is really short, approximately five minutes, and we press the pedal to the metal and take off to the lowlands. One hour later we swet at temperatures over 30 degrees and 90% humidity and quarrel with ourselves what`s the lesser evil.
We also have a little problem with the Ecuadorian authority which we must solve urgently. At the border we got a visa for ourselves for 180 days but only 90 days for the car which is the resposibility of customs. We found the office in the megacity of Guayaquil close to the harbor. We are not allowed to get in with our car so Karin guards MOMO and I go to solve our problem. It`s 10am. I find the right spot very quickly and must pull a number which is mandatory at Ecuadorian authorities. After two hours waiting it`s my turn but only to get told that I need uncounted copies of everything. The copy shop is just next door and makes a mint, also with myself. I go back and pull a number and at 2pm I`m again at the counter. After 5 minutes of hard work the lady hands over a paper to me and and I`ve been told that I should come back in 2-3 days or check the status of my inquiry at the internet. Thanks God I`m deeply relaxed. Otherwise I possibly may have stolen the gun from the security guard. After a longer discussion I`ve been told that my inquiry is worked at another place which is 10m away. Unfortunately at the moment they indulge their extended lunch break. All of a sudden someone comes along and feels responsible for my problem and I`m guided to another waiting room next door. After another hour of waiting time we go to the car and he takes uncounted pictures from inside and outside. (I believe MOMO is now on his facebook page) After this I`m again guided to the waiting room and he disappears. Around 5pm I`m getting nervous because it`s closing time. I ask the receptionist. This is not really helpful but I`m ending up with her mobile number. In between I frequently exchange information with a guy from Columbia. He has the same problem and is with me in the queue since the morning. But then a real wonder happens. At 5:15pm I have my stamped papers in hand. The poor Columbian guy must return tomorrow. Two stamps is obviously too much for one day.
Meanwhile Karin had her fun guarding the car for 7 hours at temperature above 30 degrees and a persistent police man who wants to tow the car because of stopping restrictions.
But now let`s get out of here before dark. 60km away from town is the Finca Gloria where we relax a few days. But it`s very hot and humid and fun is limited as uncounted bugs love us.
After 3 days we move on to the sea on the campground Islamar. A wonderful location on a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean. We stay almost a week before we move on along the coast direction North and stop at Puerto Lopez. We stay a few days directly on the beach under palm trees before we move on to Canoa a busy backpacker location after our fancy. We also stay directly on the beach with bars and restaurants around the corner.
After a few days we move on. The various locations on the beaches we stop-by are not in the best condition and so we end up 250km further North at Playa Escondido a nice location with cabanas and camping but unfortunately without playa but 3 millions of felt bugs at 90% humidity. That`s where the fun starts. Therefore the celebration of “living in our truck since 2 years” on 24th of March is not very exciting. After 2 days we are fed up with all this and say Good Bye to beach and ocean and drive to the mountains and end up in Mindo on 1200m. The climate is acceptable and we find a nice place at Hacienda Vincente with a nature pool and frog concert in the evening. The location invites you to several nature walks and we visit a butterfly farm and make a chocolate tour where we learn everything about the making of.
Then we move on to the middle of the world (mitad del mundo). 15 months ago we have been at the end of the world in Ushuaia and have now reached the equator line. The location is 100% touristic merchandised. Whereby it doesn`t really matter whether the equator line is exactly at 00.00.00 or off target. The monument which is surrounded by a touristic village is in any case 180m off target. The most interesting for us was the museum Inti Nan. There you can stand with one leg on the north side and with the other leg on the south side and additionally you learn something about the Amazonas Indians and the making of shrunken heads. An experiment shows that the cycle of the water flow is different on south and North. I`ve made a short video clip about it which can be found in the video section.
We drive pass Quito and over a pass of 4000m down to the hot springs of Jamanco on 3400m. There we rest a few days and enjoy the daily bath in hot water of 40 degrees.
From here we drive to Oriente, the Amazonas lowlands of Ecuador but what we experience there is part of the next blog. We hope you enjoyed reading and looking to the pictures.
We wish you all a wonderful Easter.
Hasta Luego. Kind regards
Manfred & Karin