OK, so I did stick around an extra day, have been feeling a bit rough and besides this is a kind of a fun place to hang out. I have been good today though, it was time for a warmup on the bike… you know, get the blood going and open the lungs (and subsequently fill them with traffic fumes…) so at 7.30 I was on my bike and pedalling my way north through Quito’s streets towards the equator (a 50km round trip). The city is something stupid like 50km long north to south so it wasn’t a particularly interesting ride…. but the idea of riding to the Equator kind of gave the ride some reason. Nothing to see as such, just a tacky monument but at least I can add bicycle to the modes of transport I’ve crossed the equator in or on (aeroplanes don’t count, but hiking boots do… and flipflops….). I left my 14 inch banana behind by the way, pocket not big enough……
Sunday has been a good day for spin in the city, the roads are reasonably quiet though navigation gets interesting at times, the road signs are bollocks, mainly because there aren’t any to speak of … I did have one ‘moment’ when i found myself in a really poor and shitty looking part of town but the locals were really good with giving directions so that was OK.. I think they were just amused that I was even there in the first place, and stupid enough to be on a bicycle. The drivers in general seem pretty respectful of a cyclist, even the cabbies and bus drivers who tend to be the worst breed of motorist back home… of course there’s the occasional prick but it is the same the whole world over.
I must admit I did feel the altitude and last few days of travel in my legs on the outbound trip… but found my legs for the return so was able to have some fun racing slightly bemused drivers down the main drag at 30mph… I couldn’t keep it up for long but was quite amusing. Best way to get the drivers to pay attention to you is to hog the lane you’re in…. and they were so well behaved bless ’em! Having the cloak of ‘stupid gringo’ to hide behind is very useful at times too…. I rode about 5km the wrong way up a one way street simply because I really couldn’t be bothered with navigating the proper route… the pavements are pretty wide too so is easy to hop up onto the sidewalk when faced with a bus head-on, no one seemed bothered if ran a few red lights as well.
Tomorrow’s plan is to ride about 80 or 90km south to the entrance to the Cotopaxi Parque Nacional… there is a hostal about 2km off the highway that’s only a few $ a night and apparently a friendly place. I may stay 2 nights, leave my gear and spend Tuesday riding the dirt roads up the slopes of the volcano before heading further south on Wednesday. I’ll try and get away by 7.30am tomorrow before the traffic gets too mental in the city.
Oh yes, in case you’re wondering… right now i’m sitting in a cafe called papaya.net, drinking filter coffee and listening to Queen on the stereo…. culture eh?! (by the way… if you spot any typos it’s because the keyboards are mostly knackered…. but at least they have regular characters on them, the Arabic/French ones in Morocco were a real mind bender….)
Hasta luego amigos…..