13 Jul 07 – Ipiales to Quito, Ecuador to Mitad del Mundo
“Just my luck. Electricity is out, so the line to enter Ecuador is built up and no one’s going anywhere….. By the time I’m actually through, it is already 11AM. After having gotten up for 6:30 AM to wait for a guy that never came and going through the border in 2 hours is not a great way to start my day. (The town I stayed at the night before was 2km from the border)
The day gets even better. The attendant at the first toll road I come to in Ecuador tells me that the road to Quito is closed. I need to take a detour. This detour takes me through some crappy roads. But thankfully it only adds perhaps 30-45 minutes to my journey…
I get to Mira (city in Ecuador) through this detour, and I am somewhat lost. There’s a couple major roads going in two different directions and no signs. So I turn around to ask for directions and to use the restroom. The older lady takes me to her own personal bathroom, which I really appreciate because she says there’s a public bathroom down in the city. Later, some girl comes by while I’m asking the lady for directions, and the lady tells the girl to help me. So she tells me to go left on the major road to Quito. I say thanks and start my car to leave when she knocks on my window to tell me to go right instead. I say thanks, and take this opportunity to ask and take a picture of her. She says “Que Irregular”, but smiles for the camera nevertheless.”
One of the things you have to do in Ecuador besides the obvious Galapagos Islands is the ‘Mitad del Mundo’ sight, or the Middle of the World. They got a huge memorial built up right in the middle, with a line indicating the equator itself. So I did my obligatory picture with my feet on both sides of the hemisphere…
…Except according to my GPS, which at this point has a margin of error of 9 feet, we’re not on the equator at all! In fact, we’re about 100 meters SOUTH of the equator. But there’s a road there, and I bet they didn’t have the GPS technology, so they’re royally screwed with what they’re advertising as ‘the middle of the world,’ which really isn’t.
14 Jul 07 – Mitad del Mundo to Quito to Machanga
“I had unknowingly stayed at a ‘love motel,’ where lovers go and sleep and do their thing. I didn’t know it until I drove out. I was wondering why the black dude running the motel was looking at me all weird. I was all alone and all I cared about was having a room to stay in. And at $15, I couldn’t really complain. They also had hot shower, which I dearly missed.” So you drive in, draw the curtains to the ‘garage,’ and walk right into your room. There’s a guard outside that sees where you park your car, and he alerts the attendants on the other side of the walls, where they open this little door inside the door and hand you your towel, a soap, and a check.
“I checked into the nearest motel in the nearest biggest city next to Ecuador – Peru border called Motel California in Machala. At first I was optimistic, thinking this motel and where I’m from have something in common. But it’s another love motel!! At least this time there’s no poster of a naked woman on the wall next to the bed. Instead, there’s a huge mirror on the ceiling…
…2:50 AM. What am I doing up at 2:50 AM? Just listening to women moaning over loud music, that’s all. I learned my lesson the hard way today: never stay at an ‘auto motel’ or love motel. The men bring the women here just to screw and pay for a room for $6 for maximum 5 hours. And they try to cover up the moaning and the screaming with loud music, which is what I woke up to at 1AM. Yes, 1 freaken AM. I tried sleeping in the car, which was useless, and now I’m just waiting. Looks like there’s a lot less men that want to screw at 3AM, so I should be ok in a bit.”
“Quito is a pretty big city. There are mechanics everywhere, and I saw a couple older Mercedes cars as well. But I stop by a Volvo mechanic to talk to about my brakes. He tells me that he believes it’s the bomba, or the brake master cylinder, and goes out for 45 minutes and finds the piece I’m looking for. I’m relieved, and he says he can fix it tonight. His name’s Diego.”
“So halfway through the 2.5 hour process, I get out my lantern and flashlight to help out. Then the mother of the mechanic asks me if I want some coffee. How could I refuse? She invites us just in time as the mechanic was getting done. And I gotta say that was the best black coffee I’ve ever had. Better than the ones in Colombia, although I suppose I didn’t go to some real fancy coffee place there. It was great without any cream or milk, just black coffee. That was the first time I ever actually enjoyed pure black coffee.”