January 04, 2010 GMT
to Alausi

We stopped on route to allow a heard of sheep to cross the road, and stopped and talked to the young woman and her kids who were herding the animals, before riding the last few kilometers to the town. She was only just in her twenties, but her weathered face belied her age. Her oldest daughter was 9 years old and her son was three, both of the children were out helping her with the animals. There were other flocks around in the hills, and other families tending to them.

The family were interested in our trip and wanted to know about England





We descended into the town and liked the place immediately. We checked into to a colonial style hotel, and walked down to the train station to inquire about the train that we were hoping to take down one of the famous routes that switched back and forth down to the bottom of the valley, but were told that since a Japanese tourist was decapitated whilst riding on the roof of the train, that there was no more service, only a weird bus type thing that rode along the tracks, but there was no more roof riding allowed.
The new, improved, safer train ...no roof riding!!

The train station at Alausi

We walked around the town, ate some dinner, and retired to our room, and made ready for our departure to Cuenca, our last town in Ecuador.

When we woke the next morning, the sleepy town was a hive of activity. Bus loads of villagers from other hill towns were arriving, and the occupants disembarked with goods ready to set up in the market.
Strange Cargo-heading for the market at Alausi
Alausi became a busy market town at weekends, and we couldn't resist a walk around to see what was on offer before leaving.

Riding through the mountains again, the road cut into the side like an incision.

Spit roast Guinea pig, a local speciality

The ride out was blissful, the road switched back and forth , descending and rising again, passing through valleys and over mountains, and we were sad when the road finished and we arrived in Cuenca, but the city softened the blow of the end of the road by its sheer beauty.



Arriving in Cuenca

Beautiful colonial buildings surrounded huge, leafy Plazas and gorgeous churches were on every corner. We Parked up and walked around in search of a hostel. We checked into the last one we came across, housed in another beautiful converted colonial building, and went back to pick up the bike.
We were just getting back on the bike when another biker, from the states came over and started chatting to us. He was riding with a couple of other guys, and said we should come out and meet them for dinner. We agreed, took the bike back to the hostel and went out to meet the guys.
We dined in a cheap and cheerful chicken joint, and halfway through he meal, another one of their friend, Carlo, walked into the restaurant.
Carlo and I hit it off immediately, we sat around chatting, and he invited us to go round to his hostel for breakfast in the morning.
Jacquie and I turned up at their place around 9am and met his girlfriend, Toni, and we all got along really well.
We were munching on our brekkie when I heard the bike's alarm go off. I ran outside to find another cop sat on my bike, checking it out for comfort!

Jacquie and I , and Toni and Carlo spent the day wondering the city streets, and planned to ride together when we left in a day or so.
Unfortunately, Toni fell ill the next day, so Jacquie, Carlo and I went without her to see a movie, while Toni stayed in bedresting and hopefully recovering, ready for the ride.
Alas it was not meant to be, and with Toni still ill, Jacquie and I left Cuenca alone the next day, hoping to see them a bit further down the road.
We rode towards the border, riding high up on the mountain passes, looking down at the clouds below. Just as Ricardo had told us it would be, it felt like we were in a plane, not a motorcycle, looking down at the tiny villages thousands of feet below us.

Slowly the green mountain scenery gave way to the brown, rocky landscapes of the desert, and then dotted here and there we would come across small oasis’s of green, and then be back to the dusty, rocky landscapes of the desert.

As we descended once more, we came across huge banana plantations, and then , after negotiating our way through a busy market, we hit the border with Peru.

Posted by Dan Shell at January 04, 2010 10:41 PM GMT

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