28th of October till 3rd of November 2018.
Silence and I
How silence can sooth the nerves. Being at a place without sound pollution, only the crashing of the waves. Think about all the noise pollution our civilization is forcing up on us. When was the last time you did not hear any artificial sound? “If there were a little more silence, if we all kept quiet…maybe we could understand something” – Federico Fellini
After a healthy green dinner and a quiet night we are ready to start our last stretch to Guayaquil.
Leaving tiny Puerto Cayo we follow the coastline through one of the driest parts of the country. This is National Park Machalilla and one of the first protected areas in Ecuador. In this bay it may only rain once a year. Climbing plants cover bushed hills as if nature is ready for tonight’s Halloween.
After a second breakfast with Maduro con Queso (platano with cheese) at one of the highest tops we suddenly enter rain forest, with rain! Again amazed by the changes we see within a few kilometers, from arid to awash in an hour.
Passing through some beautiful picturesque fishing villages such as Machalilla and Puerto Lopez, with boats on the beaches as the current president banned boat fishing for 2 months to give nature time to reproduce and recover. Fish now can only be caught by casting nets and is more expensive.
Stopping next to the road with a great view for lunch.
In San Jose we don’t find a place to sleep but just outside town we can negotiate a good price to be able to sleep indoors. And happy we are as it is raining hard during the night.
Next day feels like biking in the Netherlands during a chilly autumn afternoon, following a grey North Sea, but it is the Pacific! Visiting the small, basic museum in Valdivia, with artifacts from Guangala, Valdivia and Manteña cultures existing here on the Ecuadorian coast between 3500 BC and 1600 AD.
A wet muddy asphalt road makes us decide we should install MTB mudguards.
In Ballenita we finally find a small apartment with sea view and a kitchen! Can’t resist the pizza made by the son of the owner! Great quiet place as it is low season!
After a brief visit of the city center with a wooden church and funny decorated bricks we turn inland.
The green landscape turns dry, boring biking along a wide highway. Bit of a dispute about where to sleep as Frank does not want to camp so close to the highway and it seems that there are not much more possibilities than a love motel. But it is so small we decide to continue, happy we did as at km 81 we find Rancho Gloria which does not only have the possibility to camp but also offers small cabins. The owner offers us a discount and we can’t resist the luxury of hot water and not unpacking for 10$ extra to the cost of camping. It feels like holiday having a swimming pool and still time to enjoy it before sunset.
Travel so far.
Then suddenly we realize it is day 500 on the road! With almost 20,000 km AND it will be our last day of biking before we fly to the Galapagos. And after the Galapagos our winter stop in the Netherlands will start. It hits me!
We enjoy our last day riding as much as we can. The Fixme aqueduct is a huge project to ensure enough water for agriculture in this dry region.
The last stop.
Even when returning to the highway Ecuador leaves us with a good last impression of biking into a bigger city in Ecuador. Hilarious to see signs for up/down hill for 2-3%. Pity it ends once you really enter the city.
Before checking in we find a bike shop that would have bike boxes and find a real hostel which is willing to store our luggage and bikes when going to the Galapagos. The hostel needs to be close to the bike shop so we can carry the boxes “home”.
The hostel is nested in an residential, green area, bit away from the real concrete city center. But close to a super market! Spending more money on veggies than if we would go out for dinner but so good to being able to cook again and work on the blog with good internet!
Guayaquil is the biggest city of Ecuador, with 2.6 million inhabitants and an area of 4100 km2, which makes it bigger than the whole western part (Randstad) of The Netherlands. We discover a tiny part of it on foot, wander along the different river boulevards and spend hours searching for bags in which we can combine our different cycling bags when flying home. You can discover very different areas. Crowded, noisy, cheap markets in one area and a few minutes by taxi will take you to air conditioned mega shopping centers that are the same all over the world.
Not a lot of green between the recent buildings but they are improving the area. Hidden gems of small parks with the Iguana park being the highlight!
2nd of November is the day of the dead where you pay respect to the people you have lost. We visit the crowded cemetery and are amazed by the “apartment buildings”. Just before entering I get a present from one of the flower sales ladies.
Saturday evening we are ready to leave early Sunday for our discovery tour on the Galapagos. We have been wondering if we should or should not do this trip. Is it good to expose this fragile area to more tourists, so expensive, we already have seen so many volcano’s and wildlife. Can Galapagos really offer something so different that it is worth the investment? Stay tuned to find out!