Máncora , Perú (14,496 kilometers – 9,007 miles)
Good News: The Conbigotes Amazon Mobile Surveying Team spent its last few days in Baños, Ecuador enjoying everything there was to offer. A day up at Volcan Cotopaxi, New Years Eve festivities, beds/showers and about 312 card games of Canuck (check the spelling on that). Dragging our asses out of there was as difficult as dislodging a blood-filled tick from an old hunting dog. Luckily, Ecuadorian highway 45, which hugs the eastern side of the Andes and cuts into parts of the Amazon basin was our passageway to ease the sorrow. Folks, we’ve said time and time again like a broken record, comparable to my mother’s Neil Young Harvest album, that it’s gorgeous out here. Those statements couldn’t be more accurate while describing what we were treated to as we coasted southward through Southern Ecuador. The entire area which is also labeled “The Oriental” seems to be ripped apart by arms of the Amazon river which gouge the surrounding lush forest valleys like a bad shop class accident with a ban saw to that weird kid in high school. It’s pretty overwhelming.
We trolled into the town of Yantzaza to shove down a second lunch of tuna sandwiches and things got weird from there. We were forced to abandon our mercury heavy snack only to have way too much food to handle put in front of our faces. Sometimes I forget about how pathetic we can look. It’s not normal for any of these folks to see two heavily bearded and shirtless white dudes, dripping with dirt, sweat and sunscreen grease, slowly plodding on a bike which looks like a pack mule. I understand how salivating over a can of tuna fish in the town park can look slightly sad, and thankfully, our new buddy Geovanny thought so also. The afternoon kept getting more intriguing as we ended up moving his buddies office furniture, developing gout from too much meat ingestion, being shuffled around the town like a circus show and camped on the top of an apartment complex. All good quality stuff.
Soon after, we were to start our first “official” Andes crossing. We have dicked around a bit in the Andes here and there, but haven’t officially crossed them from one side to the other in one go. The 4-day climb started outside Zamora as we dialed her into low gears and spun our way up this thing. To tell you the truth, I personally (I won’t speak for Ryan on this occasion) am starting to enjoy this multi-day long elevators. You have nowhere to go and you’re not going there fast, so who gives a shit. Just take your time and enjoy the smells of dead crap on the side of the road. Side note of things not to do while crossing the Andes: do not mistake the local road side shack to be abandoned. Even if the police surely inform you that nobody lives there. If they are wrong, you will potentially run into the episode we encountered while occupying a sweet old man’s home and have to explain why your tent and bicycles are blocking him from entering his padlocked doorway.
The final day, on our way out of the mountains on our way toward the coast to cross the Peruvian border, we got doused by hefty rains and more ridiculous information from local Ecuadorian law enforcement. I was informed by not 1, but 5 police officials with bold lettered garments that Ryan “absolutely” had not passed the checkpoint before I got there as I thought he had. I waited. Had a coke. Waited. Got hit on by a drunk man trying to be a woman. Then said screw it as it was dark and I’ll figure it out tomorrow. Surely he was behind somewhere and hadn’t seen me pass him during the downpour. Long story very short: I caught up to him the next morning. He certainly was in front of me and the police were indeed morons. Imagine that.
The climate out of the Andes went from pine and amazon forest with cool’ish temps to a goddamn desert inferno as soon as we got to the flats of the coast. After crossing the new international bridge/border crossing and being significantly creeped out the lack of humans anywhere, we were on our way to Máncora to rest the legs for a brief stint. It is gorgeous here and the surfing would be sweet if you weren’t competing with 409 other folks for the same 50 foot break. Jesus, I should stop bitching. It’s about 85 and breezy here. What is the temp in Madison?
Regular News: The hippies made me put a braid in my beard. I’m hungry.
Bad News: Unfortunately, due to time constraints and the desire to spend the most applicable time in Patagonia on the bikes, we’re hopping on a bus for a bit to leg off a chunk of Perú. Not thrilled about it, but also realizing that we should get in and out of southern Chile/Argentina by the end of April, we think it’s the right move. Holy shit I hope they play the Men In Black series with subtitles! Ohhhh we’re in for a treat.
We’re getting down there folks. We will update you with whereabouts and completely nonsensical information later. Until then, keep flossing.