Arrived in Quito after a few hours ride from Otavalo, just as I’ve done in many cities thus far – not having any idea where I’ll put my head that night.
My routine now is to arrive into the city and find a nice spot to stop and be able to do a couple online searches on my phone. Usually start by typing a search string for “Hostels ‘insert your city/town here’”. That usually brings up a hostel aggregator site like Hostelworld.com or sometimes Tripadvisor and from there I read some reviews, pick one, and Google helps me find the address. Copy/paste the address into Waze and I’m off.
This brought me to Colonial House Quito Hostel’s doorstep. I think I surprised the staff by arriving on the bike as they really didn’t know what to do with the me. I asked about a parking lot close by, but they suggested I pop the curve and take it into the entryway. At this stage, par for the course.
The hostel is situated within an old colonial house in the historical district of Quito. It’s a narrow structure, three stories tall with a staircase at the Center and at each level you’re met by an ample hallway, usually with a sofa or stuffed chair to lounge in, and on the third floor is a communal kitchen. Each level has several rooms, some with their own bathroom, and others there is a shared bathroom, that is not part of the original construction, in the hallway.
The city center is likely one of the best preserved examples of Spanish Colonial architecture in the world. It has been the setting for a great many movies over the years. One that comes to mind is the Russel Crowe and Meg Ryan movie “Proof of Life” – one of the scenes takes place in Quito’s main square.
Once in the city, I called up Alfonso whom I was introduce to by Sory and Alain from Cali. They were very insistent that I contact him when I got into town. I met with Alfonso at his house for coffee at around 2pm which turned into a 10 hour marathon conversation. It was amazing how well he hit it off. We talked about motorcycle travel for hours and hours and he showed me the routes, pictures and loads of great stories of his travels throughout South America. I made mental notes on the places and things to do.
One of the major things that I did change from my original plan was to scrap the route down the sierra to see the volcanos and head for the Amazon. Because of the time of year, Alfonso mentioned that the snowcapped volcanos would likely be hidden by cloud cover. I had already experienced that in Manizales when I tried to go up to the Nevado del Ruiz, so no thanks… Alfonso had done this route a few years ago with his cousin and the places I’d see looked simply amazing… so… the AMAZON is calling.
The next day I went out to meet with the Triumph dealership and to say hello. I met Eduardo who runs the dealership, chatted a while and he handed me the contact info for Nicanor, a motorcycle enthusiast who had just bought my exact same bike and lived in Cuenca near the Cajas National Park – something that was still on my list.
No room at the Inn – That night I moved from the hostel as all the rooms were reserved into a little Inn a few blocks from Alfonso’s house. He had been kind enough to offer for me to leave my bike at his place, and was moving on the next morning.
That night we went out for hamburgers at this phenomenal place that Eduardo had recommended. We swung by to pick up Andres “El Indio” Molestina, a good friend of Alfonso – now I also know that Alfonso “el Junior” – interesting how they all have these crazy nicknames.
El Indio is well known throughout Ecuador and has probably one of the most extensive dirt track travel records in the region. He did an incredibly difficult and extensive ride in Peru through some very difficult terrain.
Andres shared a great deal of wisdom and I got loads of tips not only on routes, but also of riding techniques. One of his suggestions, though I was not terribly excited by it, was not to ride from Huaraz to Cusco through the Andes as the quality of roads or tracks is really poor and constantly changing due to weather. This may change some of my plans up ahead – we will see.
Alfonso dropped me off at the inn after dinner, so it was time to pack as tomorrow I head down into the Amazon. This should be exciting!