Some good news. I have found the solution to the bike’s altitude problems. Sometimes the solution is staring you right in the face. Just go downhill. Big improvement. It works a treat.
After weeks in the sky I drop to under 1000 metres. The mosquitoes are man size, but it is great to be in the clouds. It is a joy to take on a cumulonimbus—see one on the horizon and then ride right through the middle. Spooky, mesmerising, unbelievable fun.
Ecuador is like Wales. The spectacular mountains, green hills, and lots and lots of rain. I swear that was a pint of Albright I had back there. I give the country two and a half days, which is unfair, but I am keen to get moving after all the delays. More the fool me.
Overlander conundrum time: you lose your keys. Thankfully you have thought to put a spare set in your left pannier. Trouble is, they are locked in the pannier. Get out of that sunshine. Answers by daybreak please.
I ask in town for some tools in order to break into the box. “It is not necessary” says Juan. He takes a hammer and a small screwdriver to my padlock, and gives the latter a gently measured tap. It springs open obligingly. “Te doy las gracias” says I, thinking that it is definitely time to rethink my security system.
We chat for a while. He wants to go back to the USA. “Why did you leave?”
“I was reported. Illegal”.
“Why would anyone do that? Who did it?”
“Yeah. They met.”
For a few days I cross paths again with Didier and Catherine. A familiar division of labour emerges. She takes the pictures, adding wry encouragement and quiet smiles. He throws a charming French version of Australian manhood into the mix, “no inquietudes mate”, and I have lots of obscure adjectives for sand. But they want to go east to the magnificent Inca ruins and onto Rio’s fantastic carnival. I want to keep south into Chile looking for solitude and altitude. It makes sense. Just doesn’t sound like it.
Easier to get in the sand...
...than to get out.
I find plenty. The open deserts pull together all those dissolute thoughts and creeping doubts around biking travel. Huge spaces; the feeling of covering miles without danger or difficulty; the sheer amount of nothingness. Just me and lots of absence. Motorcycle emptiness. I adore these vast landscapes: blissfully lost in my helmet, tracking kilometers on the map, enthralled by the thin black line winding forwards like a discarded leather belt. I am very happy.Posted by at March 08, 2004 05:43 PM GMT
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