After cheating death in Colombia, it was time to head into Ecuador. My first two hours in the country was a whirlwind of excitement. Crossing the border seemed to be a breeze but it was shortly after this when the sky started to turn a moody grey and the atmosphere had a sombre feel to it. As the border became a distant blur in my wing mirror, I could see the virga fast approaching. Mentally preparing myself to become a drowned rat I throttled on into what was starting to look like a scene from a disaster movie. Hail stones the size of golf balls were pelting down towards me, the sound of ice pellets striking my helmet was terrifying and the sensation of these crystal rocks striking my body was agonising. (Two days later I still had red blotches all over my legs!) Pulling over at the nearest road side café we waited until it stopped and an hour later all I could see was a sheet of white. Continuing the journey, I dodged mud slides that had flooded the highway and giant rocks that were once the mountain side I was supposed to ride next to. Thinking the excitement was over, I was confused to see people walking into the road and refusing to move, coming across the beginnings of a protest. A line of boulders and very angry women was starting to form. My friend who wasn’t standing for any of it wheelied straight over the boulders leaving me to sort myself out. Every time I found a gap, a group of people would rush to stop me. Panicking that I would be stuck there for however long and part of a protest that I had no idea was about, a sympathetic man kindly let me through. Getting out of there as fast as I could my only thought was ‘Welcome to Ecuador!’
Having recovered from the traumatic entrance to this country it was time to explore. First stop was the breath-taking Laguna Cuicocha. Wanting to stretch my legs I took the short hike up to the viewpoint. I was taken aback by the stunning views Ecuador had to offer, and this was only the beginning! I could feel the smile across my face beam as I took a moment to appreciate the calmness of the water below, the beautiful mountainous backdrop above and a splattering of marshmallow clouds to top it all off. I was at one with nature: one of my favourite places to be, and I didn’t want to leave. Not wanting to stay away from water too long, me and my friend made our way up into the Andes mountains. With my little 125cc struggling with the lack of oxygenated air we decided to make a pit stop. Intrigued by what was on offer for lunch that day we got stuck into eating the local delicacy: Cuy. Warning: be prepared to have nightmares when you google what this is!!! Getting over the shock of eating what was once a favourite pet of mine, we continued to lug our withering engines into the depleting air supply. But watching the sunset over Quilatoa lagoon was worth every breath I was now severely struggling to take in.
Wandering around the Andean village we noticed two Suzuki DR650s parked outside a hotel. Swiftly introducing ourselves we realised these were some seriously cool overlanders. Honoured that I can now call these intrepid travellers my friends, I had my first meeting with Michnus and Elsebie Oliver. Globetrotting since 2010, these two amazing people are taking it slow and soaking up every inch of culture a country they explore has to offer. And even better they write about everything from the places they’ve encountered to helping you prepare for your own round the world trip. Check out their website at https://www.pikipikioverland.com/ and make sure to say hi from me when you guys are on your next epic adventure (currently in Chile).
That night was the coldest I have ever been in my entire life, the kind of cold that goes straight through to your bones. The wood fire in our room was starting to die on us and I could feel my eyelids slowly freezing over, when my friend thought of an ingenious idea. He decided to take some petrol from his bike in a questionable attempt to revive the fire. BANG!!!! Without thinking I leapt under the duvet whilst my friend got thrown into the bathroom. Hoping it was safe to take a peak, my friend and I stared at each other in shock. After a few seconds my first words were ‘OMG! Do I still have eyebrows?????’ I don’t think my friend will be doing that again!