Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Demons and Angels

These last few days have been as action packed as ever, as is the recurring theme of this trip. Once we arrived back in Quito we needed to make our way to Miguel's house. He had been keeping our bikes while we were on vacation to the Galapagos Islands. A vacation within a vacation....inception. When we arrived at his place he was happy to show off a bit of his work. While we were out, he resharpened my machete and sharpened Tormod's once dull machete. They could now cut through a jungle vine like butter. Although they never asked I'm sure Miguel and his wife had to be wondering why two traveling Gringos needed machetes in the first place.

These guys were so adorable!

In addition to housing our bikes he also cleaned my chain and lubricated it with two of his devices that he invented. After the bikes were good to go, he did one more favor for us. Tormod had a tooth that had really been bothering him in the Galapagos. He had me look at it and it wasn't pretty, only about half the tooth was remained. He needed something done ASAP so we asked Miguel if he know of any good dentists. He called up his dentist and got is in for a Saturday morning appointment.

Morning came and Tormod seemed a bit nervous. He was just hoping they didn't have to pull his tooth. We hopped a taxi to get to the dentist. The taxi driver knew the game. He was milking the clock as he asked us 101 questions about our siblings, work, and friends back home. As he poked along at 22 miles per hour. After a $20 taxi ride (which is a small fortune here) we arrived at the place we thought the dentist should be. We asked a security guard for directions and in typical South American fashion, instead of saying he didn't know he acted like he was a expert on the subject. He pointed us off in one direction and told us that it was five blocks south. Since we were already a few minutes late Tormod took off running. He wanted to make sure he didn't miss his appointment. Upon reaching the five block mark we realized something was not adding up. I compared the address on the business card to the place we had been directed and realized we had just traveled five blocks in the wrong direction. We ran back to where we started and saw Miguel standing on the sidewalk jumping up and down to flag us in. It was literally right across the street from where we started. Lesson learned, don't ask security guards for directions.

Tormod's day of truth. It all went well though.

The US isn't always the most popular country over here.

The dentist had requested Miguel to be present as a translator so Tormod wouldn't unwittingly agree to have all his teeth pulled. They got Tormod in right away. The dentist said she could put a temporary filling in the tooth that was bothering him, she found that another tooth was infected. She decided to fill both with temporary fillings that he would need to get replaced when he arrived home. The dentist seemed good although it was a very casual surgery. She carried on several conversations with Miguel and I as she operated on Tormod's mouth. She had a ton of questions for me about the trip. If Miguel or I said something she found interesting she would just stop operating for a few minutes to hear the story. I would have probably been a bit nervous if she was repairing my teeth while firing off questions. She was a pro at multitasking though 'cause in about two hours Tormod had two shiny new molar fillings. They warned him several times that they were only temporary and that he needed to avoid crunchy food, hopefully they will last.

I've got a bunch Tormod's new dentist would not approve of this.

On the walk back we tracked down a taxi, but made sure to negotiate the price before getting in. We've got this saying in Texas "Fool me once, shame on.....shame on you." We got the price down to $3. We had considered walking, but the sky suddenly turned very dark and the winds picked up drastically. Within minutes of hopping aboard, the sky burst wide and began gushing everything it could onto Quito. Massive bolts of lightning and heavy rain. After a few minutes of rain it changed to a brutal hailstorm. Everyone on the streets ran for cover. We were being bombarded with so much hail I was sure the windshield was going to crack. Even our cabby said it was crazy weather for Quito. We trudged on for a few minutes, but soon the roads looked like muddy rivers that were moving a bit too fast to freeze over. Piles upon piles of hail floated down these makeshift urban streams. It got so bad the roads backed up to a stand still as we watched and waited in awe at the power of nature. The sadwalks were covered in ice and looked like New York City in the middle of winter, despite the fact that it's summer here and we're only a few miles from the equator. After about 30 minutes the hail subsided and we began driving through the flooded streets of this unique city. Tormod said it was the best $3 he had spent on the trip. This was truly the most bizarre weather my eyes have ever witnessed.

To anyone complaining about crazy weather in Ohio.

These little guys had some kick to 'em.

Couldn't resist having a bit of fun in the ice water on the roof.

I'm gonna miss this special city.

Malcom X, one of our many friends we made in Quito.

The next day we finally hit the road on our bikes. I was surprised by how long it took us to get out of Quito. It seemed like several hours just to get out of the city and it's suburbs. We had a good first day. For Tormod's first camping spot we found a nice spot on the side of the mountain which overlooked the expansive valley and the four neighboring volcanoes. It was a really epic camping spot without any animals or crops inside of it. The catch was, it was on a farm and we had to duck under some barbed wire to get there. It was nearly dark so I hoped we wouldn't have any problems. I dozed off pretty early glad we didn't run into any diplomatic issues. At exactly 4:36 AM I woke up to some furious screams followed by profuse yelling from right outside my tent. In my groggy early morning state I wasn't able to make out much more than "Diablo!!!!". In addition to that there was heavy breathing and grunting from some large animals. I knew things were serious when I heard Tormod yell "Dan" from his tent. He always calls me Ohio so I knew the situation wasn't ideal. Within a few minutes and a few more outbursts the enraged farmer left the site and I fell back asleep. A few hours later I woke up to the vibrations of something moving my tent. Was it the farmer coming back for revenge?! I peered out the opening at the front of my tent. It was a cow liking my tent pole. He had about five other cow friends too. I packed up my tent and got off this dude's property as quickly as I could. Before I got out the farmer smiled and waved hello to me. I don't know if it was the same guy or not, but I bet I'd be a bit grouchy if I was herding cows at 4:30 in the morning too.

Leaving the Grandest of Hotels.

Wake up......WAKE UP. Don't make me like your tent.

My tent got hit with a bit of shrapnel from a cow poo grenade. 

Cows in the mountains.

The scenery never gets old. Especially when looking at active volcanoes.

With that close call behind us we continued on with a fresh start. For the most part it was an easy day with tons of downhill riding, just the way I like it. Soon the rains came and it was no longer a leisurely ride. As I was pedaling up a long hill hoping to get to cover until the rain stopped, a Jeep headed me off. He parked a bit in front of me and got out of his car. This was an Ecuadorian man, Marco. In the first sentence out of his mouth he invited me to stay at his house for the night. He said he lived right down the street and welcomed me into his home. What a guy, he knew nothing about me except that I was riding my bike in a foreign country and he trusted me. I said I would love to stay, but Tormod was ahead of me and I didn't want to leave him in the dark. Marco said "¡No problemo!". He offered for me to wait at his house while he went ahead and rounded up Tormod. He pointed to his house which was visible from where we met and he drove off.

Icy mountaintops in the background and greenery in the foreground.

Gotta love when you pay with a 20 and get $3 In nickles.

No idea why this lake was so green. Probably aliens.

Tormod, Yuri, and Marco.

About a half hour later Tormod came plowing down the hill led by Marco in his Jeep. Tormod was all excited to show off who he had just met. He told me he was so happy that finally he was the one that made the new friend and got invited to stay somewhere. It killed me to break the news to him, but that was not the case. I made sure he knew that I had already met Marco before ;) He had two extra beds, warm showers, good Wi-Fi, and a really nice place. His girlfriend Yuri cooked a delicious dinner for us. Marco runs his own bike park and hosts a few mountain biking races every year. He said since he lives right off of the PanAmerica Highway (Runs from Alaska to Argentina) he sees a few loco bike riders every year. He said every time he sees one of us he can't help but to offer a place to stay. He had one couple in the midst of riding around the world through 25 countries, and another guy going from Alaska to Argentina on a skateboard. I was the first guy he had seen coming through without any shoes though, it blew his mind.

You can see the swag.

Tormod with a few of his new friends.

I told you he had a cool place.

Mommy wasn't in the mood to feed her babies so Yuri got them some milk.

Smuggle up for a good night's sleep.

The coolest part about his place besides Marco and Yuri, were his 13 dogs and one cat. He said he has a soft spot for animals and all four of the adult dogs and kitten he rescued from the streets, the other 9 dogs were newborn puppies that two of his dogs produced. The puppies were already asleep for the night when we arrived, but in the morning they were wide awake. I woke up and wandered outside. I found Tormod like a kid on Christmas, he was overjoyed to be playing with these adorable little puppies. They were really well behaved and they loved the attention we were giving them. Yuri prepared breakfast for us and we spent a bit more time with the dogs. Time really flew at this place, but all good things must come to an end. Soon we were back on the road headed for the Amazon.

No angry farmers or hungry cows at campground 2.

Cemetary on the mountain.

There is so much going on in this picture.

Bamboo and a lot of cement. That's how you build a home here.

The temperature is rising as we are defending.

This downhill was nuts.

Note the glass shards cemented on the top of the wall. Wouldn't want anyone stealing our green beans.


We're now in BaƱos, the last stop on the list before riding into the Amazonian Jungle.

This was a really far drop. It made me A bit uneasy looking down.

South America, you rock!!!

1 comment:

  1. I'm absolutely loving this blog, your pics, and reading your adventure!!!! WOW!!!!