(May 17 – written by Dave) (posted on the 18th as the no-tell motel had no internet, not the sort of place people worry about email I guess)
Riddle me this: How is it possible to be spring one minute and autumn the next, without having any summer whatsoever.
Answer: Cross the equator north to south, in the northern spring.
Of course, you can do this on a boat, on a plane or on foot. We’ve both crossed the equator on airplanes countless times. Today we did it for the first time ever on foot. Or if you consider that we are on bikes, we did it “on wheels”.
Skipping a season is not as odd as you might think. Budding trees don’t suddenly start to lose their leaves. Migrating birds don’t make u-turns. Bears, if they are about, don’t start digging winter dens. No, actually nothing happens. Mankind draws a number of lines on the earth, giving us ways of dividing, measuring and organizing our view of the world. The earth and nature don’t really care about lines drawn by man. Sure, the equator has true significance in multiple natural systems, but here again those natural systems don’t care much about the actual line being drawn somewhere.
Still these lines are there and fun for us to experience. Today we walked back and forth across the equatorial line multiple times. In fact, you can walk back and forth to your heart’s content. There are two monuments for the equatorial line on the highway that we are on. One of them charges admission, the other is free. They are not in the exact same location. That is not to say that the equator has moved, but rather, someone got the idea to make money on the line and up popped a second location. We only visited the free monument because we feared that they’d charge per crossing at the other.
Just to prove the legitimacy of the cross, we tried to send a GPS Spot message which should have read 0.0000 for the latitude. Unfortunately, our Spot device is not behaving these days and sometimes it takes forever to get the message out. Storm clouds were about so waiting too long really wasn’t an option. We’d made it to our hotel and tried Spot again but it still wouldn’t work. I think it might be time for new batteries.
Ok, another riddle:
Riddle me this: How can two people holding hands be half a world apart from each other?
Answer: One person stands in the Northern Hemisphere above the equatorial line, the other person stands in the Southern Hemisphere below the equatorial line. Hold hands across the line.
I could go on all day with these anecdotes but I’m really of two minds, two hemispheres that is, if it’s really all the funny (haha) (Senior editor note – no, not really all that funny). It’s just a line after all.
The rest of the ride today was uneventful. Unlike yesterday’s drizzle, today we had mixed blue sky and clouds. What a relief that was. Right from the get go we had a 20k climb over the shoulder of another volcano. The climb took us almost to 3,300 meters above sea level. It was chilly but we warmed up climbing. The ride down the other side was quite chilly however. Nancy kept saying that she thought it was colder on “this side” of the pass. I’m not sure it was that or it was just us being wet from sweat at that point. Both of us rode with a chill for much of the rest of the day.
We stopped in the town of Cayambe for a coffee and some bizcochos. Bizcocho is a “biscuit” that is found in this region. It’s very light and crispy with distinct crunch when you bite it. Not overly filling but something to try and nice with a cup of coffee. They were making them by the thousands in our cafe and every other cafe on the highway had a sign up for them.
We didn’t stop much after that break, other than at the equator. We didn’t get wet but it felt like a storm could come in at any point. Looking back up towards the pass, we were glad that we got an early, dry start.
We have a couple options for entering Quito (tomorrow) but had to pick the route today in order to be on the right roads. We are going in the way that we read about on a Crazyguyonabike journal which gives good detailed route turns noted. Going this way meant that we have fewer options for places to stay. We’ve ended up a 24-hour cabana place that is ok but you know that you are in for an interesting night when they ask you how many hours that you want at check in. Our room is massive, two separate bedrooms, a sitting room with two couches and a bathroom with great hot water. I’m not really sure who would stay in a 24-hour hotel where two separate bedrooms were needed but perhaps I’ll leave that question for another time.
There is no restaurant or for that matter food here so we are cooking our dinner. We haven’t used the stove since we loaded it up with petrol (as opposed to white gas) so it’s a good thing to test out here, before we get to Quito. We certainly don’t want to leave Quito with questions over our stove working.
We have a short but challenging ride planned for tomorrow. Not only do we get to ride into the massive city of Quito, we also have another 1,000 meter climbing day planned. Quito is up on a hillside and we have to get up there. Meanwhile, we’ve been trying to get a Spot message out for about an hour and half. Maybe it doesn’t work south of the equator…