We spent a relaxing evening in the hostel, perched up in the mountain, surrounded by jungle, overlooking the beach below, and then decided one more night wouldn’t hurt!
The view from the Finca in Ayampe
The road was beckoning once again, and after breakfast on the balcony, with a beautiful view over the bay, we were on our way again, this time in glorious sunshine. Everything looked, well, better, in the sunshine, and each time we passed a beach town, I felt the urge to stop and look for a hostel, but we had dilly-dallied a lot over the last week, and both felt we should be pushing on, or we’d never get anywhere.
At last, sunshine on the ruta del Sol
We rode along the beach road all morning, and then turned inland and started heading up the mountains, once again, the scenery was stunning, the roads clear, and the only thing that slowed our progress was my the spectacular mountain scenery that forced us to pull over for photos several times.
Some of the stunning scenery approaching Riobamba
As the sun was setting, we pulled into Riobamaba. We had been helped through Guayaquil by a cop we’d met at a gas station on the outskirts of the city. When we asked him directions, who yelled at us “ follow me” and then proceeded to turn on his lights and sirens and race through the city at 80 mph. Through red lights, straight across intersections and screeching round corners, we stormed through the city. Jacquie screamed at me, “This is the weirdest Police chase I have ever been in, we are chasing them” I was thinking exactly the same thing, but the cops easily saved us an hour! Enabling us to climb the windy mountain roads to Riobamba in the last moments of daylight.
We found ourselves a place to stay, ate a quick meal of Caldo de Pollo in the street and crashed out for the night, it had been a long day of riding and we were both exhausted
Some of the sights in Riobamba, Colonial architecture, Traditionally dressed highlanders, and a proper Chopper!
We walked around the city the next morning, before heading up higher into the hills and on to Chimborazo, a volcano over 5,000m high, its peak covered in snow. As we climbed, the temperature dropped and dropped, and we piled on the clothing, it was the first time I had worn warm clothes since Bogota.
Well I never, a Push-Me-Pull-You !
Jacquie does "The Sound of Music"
The Volcano was stunning, we looped all the way around it, visited the Swiss influenced mountain town of Salinas, where we toured the chocolate factory and drank the tastiest hot chocolate ever, before moving on to Guarunda, the capital of the region to stop for the night.
the chocolate factory in Salinas
kids in Salinas
We stopped in the main plaza to ask some cops fro directions, and they quickly came up with the same solution, “follow us”. Oh no, we thought, not another high speed chase, but in this case the cops on their 125cc Honda, lead us slowly through he city, showed us three different hostels, dropping us off at the last one, before wishing us well and cruising back to the police station.
One of the friendly cops in Guaranda
We got talking to the hostel staff, who told us that the following day was a big fiesta in the town to mark its anniversary, and we simply had to stay for the party.
That night, in anticipation for the anniversary, there were bands at every Plaza in the town, and a huge fireworks display in the main plaza.
The Military band kicking things off with the fireworks tower in the background
We caught a couple of the bands, and then waited for the pyrotechnic show.
The square was full of people, there was a band playing on the stage at one end of the Plaza, and a huge wooden tower, heavily laden with fireworks in the centre.
The 24th of May 'Banda"
Preparing Canelazo, a tasty heartwarming punch
The locals were busy getting slowly drunk on Canelazo, a hot punch made with Cinnamon, Mandarin, and lots of Aguardiente. At 9,000ft, it was cold, and we were bored of waiting, so we decided to join in on the drinking, which certainly helped pass the time. Eventually, on of the pyrotechnicians got bored too, and without warning, lit up the tower’s main fuse.
The fireworks began shooting out of the tower, and the crowds of people started inching back. We noticed there were no security or safety teams anywhere near, nor was there any sort of firefighting or ambulance personnel anywhere to be seen, it was refreshing to see this ‘look after yourself’ approach after all the restrictions we have back home, but as the ashes started raining down on the clouds below, and a couple of fireworks backfired, the crowd backed off even further, and Jacquie was seriously worried. But, no one got hurt, and everyone enjoyed the show.
We staggered back to our hostel, and quickly fell asleep, even with the Latin music from one of the bands thumping through the walls of our room, and shaking our bed.
We were woken the next morning by the military bands marching up and down outside the hostel; so we went down to check it out.
There were parades everywhere, we sat and watched for a while, then decided to make a break for it and get out of town, before the marchers blocked us in.Posted by Dan Shell at January 03, 2010 02:57 AM GMT
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