Monday, August 31, 2009

Ecuador Border

JOURNAL ENTRY Morning 8/28/09

I crossed into Ecuador yesterday at about 4:30pm - spent about 1-1/2 hours at the border (no problems, no costs), but had trouble finding a hotel away from the border afterwards. It started to rain. Around 8:00 I saw the lights of a cathedral, and took the San Gabriel turn off. Not much of a town, but big enough to have a cathedral and square. I circled the plaza, still raining, and got directions to a hotel a few blocks away. It was full. I drove around for another 30-minutes, no luck. I tried the square again. Saw a “Residencia” sign that had somehow eluded me before. Got a room for $5 and parked the bike inside the open-air courtyard. The room wasn’t worth a penny more. In the private bath, you could sit, shave and take a shower all the same time – while trying to avoid a shock from the electrical wires feeding the showerhead heating “system”. The next shower will have to wait until Quito.

I have been dragging for the past couple of days and now have an annoying dry cough. The ride to the border from Salento has been literally up and down. Deep into the desert valleys, the temperatures would reach triple digits, and at the top of the mountain passes, the elevation reached five digits. It got chilly. It got sweaty hot - only to do it all over again. A lot of fun but I have been wiped at the end of each day. Haven’t been sleeping so well either, maybe it’s the altitude? I guess I am a bit grumpy too. I will be able to rest up while the bike is in the shop in Quito getting serviced. My front tire is toast, and my back tire has only about 1,000 miles left on it. Tires are going to get harder to find from here on out. I should get it now.

Breakfast was a thin T-bone steak on a bed of rice, an egg, fried plantains, fresh papaya juice, and instant coffee all for $1.50. Gas is now $2.00/gallon (a break from the $4.50 + in Colombia). Its cheap here. Because Ecuador uses the U.S. dollar for its currency the $100 taped under each of my boot’s insoles will be plenty to get me settled in the capital.

I have still have the chill from last night.


I picked up my bike today from the dealer: new brakes front and rear, valves adjusted, and another12,000-mile checklist completed. I learned the hard way that Ecuador has very high import taxes on some items, such as motorcycle tires. I desperately needed a new front tire, and would need a new back tire soon. The dealership didn’t have the tires, but told me where to get them. If I picked them up myself I would save myself the additional markup that the BMW dealership would apply.

“Dios Mio!” I knew the tires would be more expensive down here, but not this much. The same rear tire that I bought in the States for $130, and in Guatemala for $210 was now $340! I could’ve saved some money by waiting until Peru, but I could not be sure that they would be in stock there - then what? I had BMW install the front tire, and I will carry the new rear tire with me, until the very last possible moment. Only 5% of roads in Bolivia are paved, and I want to spend at least three weeks riding there. I need fresh tires.

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