Departing Cali early on Sunday morning, Novermber 16, my Canadian friends, Robert,
S and I soon were in the high mountains surrounding Cali. This marks the beginning of the Andes, the high, treacherous and beautiful mountain range in which I will be riding for the next several days.
Crisp and cool but in nice weather, Robert took the lead, often moving ahead of me by a mile or two. His bike is newer, more powerful and can negotiate the mountain curves and steep roads better than the Blue Goose. And of course Robert is simply a better rider than I, particularly in the Mountains.
We had decided to spend the night in Pasto, a middle sized city about an hours ride north of the border with Ecuador. The mountains were beauiful, steep, sometimes with heights near 3200 meters above sea level. Curve after curve, many tight and dangerous. Robert set a nice fast pace and often was out of sight of me. Mile after mile passed, village after village, as night neared, however at the rate we were traveling we would reach Posto before darkeness.
Suddenly the BMW lost power, coming to a stop, high in the mountains with rain setting in. Coasting to the side, I stopped in front of a small house. The folks who lived there were extremely nice but had no means to help. I soon identified the problem. The cable from the battery to the stator had been removed my the mechanic in Cali and when he replaced it he obviously did not properly tighten the bolt holding the cable to the stator. The bolt had worked lose causing the cable to become disconnected. Darkness descended, the rain increased and I was at a loss as to what to do. Apprehension, maybe fear enveloped me,
A military truck, loaded with heavily armed soldiers stopped by but none could help. Finally a man stopped in a truck, gave me a jump start and the bike started, however the battery was low and I had only a glimmer of lights. The truck followed closely behind me, providing me enough light to see the curves and the dangerous dropoffs to my right. After a frightening thirty minute ride in the rain and darkness, we made our way down the mountain into Pasto.
Having no idea where Robert and S might be and with no means to contact them, I found a small hotel for the night. Monday was a holiday in Ecuador so there were no mechanics working but one of the clerks in the hotel and I decided to look at the BMW and eventually were able to make the needed repairs.
By lunch I was on the road to the Border. Reaching the border at noon everyone was on lunch break so it took over four hours to clear the border. During the wait, I met a guy from Luxembourg, riding and African Twin, who is exploring South American. He had teamed up with a young couple from Israel who are riding a KLR650. For a day or so, I will ride with them but eventually I will meet up again with my Canadian friends. By 4:00 PM, we were away, heading south in Ecuador toward Quito.
Darkness was near, so we decided to spend the night in Ibarra, a nice city about two hours north of Quito. However, the ride to Ibarra was beautiful, high Andes mountains, curves that cannot be described, steep and high dropoffs to my right. Slightly after dark, I was in Ibarra, checking into a nice hostal, with a private room and hot water, all for $8.
My goal today is to reach Quito, only a couple of hours south and hopefully to once again team up with my Canadian friends, but first I have to find them.