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Archive for the ‘Ecuador’ Category

Back to Basics

Wednesday, May 31st, 2006

After the sailing adventure it was back to Quito where our bikes lay in waiting. If you’re going to do something you may as well hammer it, so a 5 day and night bus ride back to Quito was the ticket. Everything went smoothly until we got too relaxed and “un ladron toma nuestro maleta”. Or, some bugger nicked our bag. So after losing both our passports, camera, ipod, clothes, air tickets, medical forms and a fair bit of money we were slightly perturbed. We were also on the border of Peru and Ecuador, a very dodgy spot where people are often mugged, fake money is being fleeced to tourists and generally not the most law abiding characters are lingering. After telling the border control personnel what had happened they said you should really go to the other police and pointed roughly in the direction of Peru. Having not entered Ecuador yet and needing an official police report from Peru we wondered how hard it would be to enter the second most corrupt country in the world illegally. Having already entered Argentina without exiting Chile and entered Chile without exiting Ecuador we thought this might be possible. As we walked out of the border control station the guy on the door said don’t worry about the border just go to Quito it will be heaps easier there. So we just walked across the border and no one could have cared less, then caught the last bus to Quito.

So in Quito we have found ourselves with some time up our sleeves and after a day to sort out the paper work we were off to Mindo, a small village in the Jungle, cool. This has been the – people wise, best part of our trip. After 5 hours of descending through tropical forrest we were spotted on bikes as we rode in and directed to “la casa de Diago and Viviana” who are also cyclists. Where we stayed in paradise for 2 weeks. On the second day we were invited to a bamboo farm where a local Ecuadorian couple we met were going to pick bamboo for their new house. We helped pick the bamboo, clean the bamboo in a river then brought the these great specimens to their new home in the trees. To celebrate, a BBQ and rock pool building ceremony in the river next to where the house will be built.

I’ll spare the details of the next two weeks but it was awesome and I have never felt so welcomed or refreshed in my life. The people don’t really have any money but everything works out, people help each other. Houses don’t need to be locked and often don’t have doors and no one goes hungry. There is no bank and you don’t often see money change hands. It just all works out.

When I was cleaning bamboo with Rose and Armondo in the river for their new house and saw how happy everyone was I couldn’t help but feel a bit stupid for getting upset about loosing an Ipod. Anything material suddenly seemed like a waste when you could build your own bamboo house in the jungle, pick fruit from the trees and laugh with your friends.

When we left after 2 weeks at Diago and Vivianas we had to insist that they took some money for all the food we ate and accommodation. I almost had to hide it before they would accept it. There were nearly a few tears but Angela promised me we will visit them again. When we rode through town almost everyone knew us and waved. Some even rode with us on there bikes to the top of the steep climb out of town.

Back in Quito we now bump into people we know and feel like locals. We are staying in an apartment with friends we met in Mindo who have 5 bikes on the wall in their lounge and ride every morning in a mtb park next to their house, my dream flat! Though 2h with the hammer down at 2,800m altitude sure cleaned out my lungs this morning.

So I would like to say thank you to whoever nicked our bag – we have made lifetime friends here in Ecuador who we will never forget.

Hope all is well with you all round the world, and after 3 and a half years of travelling only 55 days to NZ waaaahhhhhhooooooooo.