(May 18 – written by Nancy)
For a short mileage day today it seemed like a hard one. But we made it into the very large city of Quito without any mishaps and are now relaxing in our very luxurious apartment, awaiting the arrival of my sisters very late this evening. We did have few sprinkles as we came into the city but the real rain held off until we had all of our things in the apartment so we were lucky yet again!
It was very foggy this morning when we started out, which made the initial 13k or so of downhill a bit chilly. At the bottom of the hill we crossed the Guayllabamba River – not a very scenic river, it looked very brown but it seemed to be running pretty fast so maybe it was just lots of runoff from the surrounding hillsides. Then it was a good climb up the other side – at least 10k and relatively steep, enough to feel like a chore at 8am in the morning. The road was good though, with a nice big shoulder the whole way up the hill so we didn’t have to worry about traffic, at least on that part.
Unfortunately our nice shoulder disappeared at the top of the first climb but we soldiered on, with most cars being polite as they made their way by us – there were multiple lanes, so it was not as though we were holding up traffic. We were getting a bit hungry at that point and needed to do a map check so pulled over at a panaderia for a nice gooey roll and some Gatorade. Suitably refuelled, we hit the road again to get through the last 20k or so into Quito.
As you can imagine, for a city with a population of over 2.6 million, the closer to the city proper we got the more intense the traffic got. Add to this another 3k steep climb with no shoulder and a very crappy road and it turned into not so much fun. We stopped a few times to make sure we were taking the right turns and were on the right roads, and eventually got on to a major north/south road that would take us to the apartment we are staying at for the next week.
As luck would have it, we ran into two other cyclists on mountain bikes from Colorado who are planning to do some of the Trans-Ecuador Mountain Bike route with some other friends. It was fun to have a chat on the side of the road in Quito Ecuador with some other cyclists from the US and kind of got us re-energised a bit to hear their congratulations about our trip.
We were too early to check in to our apartment and were ready for lunch so we stopped at what looked like a nice restaurant/bar for some very good hamburgers. They did serve beer and we were sorely tempted but decided we’d better hold off until we got into the apartment with things unloaded.
So now here we sit in this very nice apartment, with a nice kitchen, a living room with a couch and chairs, a dining room table, hot showers, 2.5 bathrooms, and even a hair dryer! Wow, I could sure get used to this… My sisters arrive late tonight and I am sure they won’t be quite as amazed by this apartment as we are, given it’s kind of standard for people living normal lives. Anyway, I am really looking forward to seeing them and we’ll have the whole next week to play tourist here. We’ll probably do some sporadic updates while we are here – you know Dave won’t be able to resist!
(Junior Editor’s note: I’m dying to do a post on the coriolis effect and if toilets flush the “other” way here south of the equator – so, yes, there will be posts in the next week or so…)
(Junior Editor’s second note: the blog title “Into the big smoke…” comes from an Aussie/British saying. The big smoke is the city. Going to the big smoke means going to the city. We’ve were raised in the USA, but lived mostly in Australia for the past 20 years. We sometimes find ourselves using “English” sayings only to confuse people from the USA or Australia. We then have to stop and think where we learned that phrase. Today we had to look up “big smoke” on the internet because we both thought for sure it was American English. Nope, it’s Aussie English. So now you know…)