We have a group now, and a big one at that. I’m only half-surprised so many cyclists end up gathering in one roof in Cuenca. It’s a hub for cyclists heading south afterall. I’ve been lucky enough to ride with numerous tourers in the past but our rag tag bunch, all dirt road enthusiasts, seems to have the quiet confidence in all of them . For one, they all come by the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route in the US. Well I guess I’m impressed because we’ve intended to ride that but got blocked by the weather in Whitefish. As a result, we only finished the Canadian section. These guys all finished it and then some. Truly amazing this big of a group converged down here in Ecuador.
We’re excited to reconnect with our old friend, Pauker!!! Scott and us were supposed to bikepack the La Ruta de Los Conquistadores in Costa Rica but he broke his Rohloff in Nicoya Peninsula. Liz and Tyndall, the Alaskan couple and our co-conspirators in Cotopaxi, showed up in town too. One thing we learned from previous encounters with bike travelers, once you’ve gone separate ways, you’ll probably not gonna see each other in the next several months. That’s why we’re so happy to see Liz and Tyndall that soon.
Joe, thebloke from South England was there too. We’ve never met him before but we’re virtual friends on facebook. But Tyndall and Liz already know him way back in Alaska having met in Chickenstock Music Festival.
We also met Bruno and Lorraine, a French couple, who were in Simiatug a day after us, slept in the same hostel, same room and same bedsheets. Poor souls, it must have been a sleepless night over those used sheets.
It’s a small world you suddenly realized.
We obtained our Ecuador exit stamp without any fuss. Even better, the Peruvian Immigration officer asked us how long do we plan on staying in his country. I thought it was a dumb question. What if I say 8 months or a year? Will he give us a year-long stamp? We err in the side of niceness and said 6 months at the most. And so we were given a 6-month stamp. Now we have 6 months to explore this country.
Nuts and Bolts:
**In Cuenca, we stayed in Hotel Check Inn, cheap, spacious rooms including free breakfast and fast internet.
**We did not stay with the Loja Warmshowers host but the rest of the group did.
**Vilcabamba boasts several lodging options but we all stayed in Rumi Wilco, owned by an Argentinian botanist, it’s a 5-minute ride from town situated in a forest adjacent to the river. Ask the owner for the botanical manual to identify the plants around the property. It has cabins complete with kitchen or you can pitch your tent for a fee including access to hot shower and shared kitchen.
**Zumba has a few basic accommodations and restaurants.
You can view the whole route here.