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Crossing the bridge separating Colombia to Ecuador, we ride our sidecars for the first time on the Ecuadorian roads. From the first kilometres to the South of the country, the motorbikes will enjoy this perfectly smooth asphalte. We can note this road surface is actually the same all along the Panamerican highway plus on the secondary roads reaching the different volcanos.
Unlike Colombia, the Ecuadorian highways are not managed by private companies but by the government. For each toll, we pay the small amount of $0,20 (USD).
In comparaison with Colombia, the waste management is one of the biggest preoccupations for the country. From the first kilometres, we can notice there are less waste on the roadsides. There are much more bins at the tolls and service stations where there are sometimes recycling bins looking like the ones we can see in Europe.
The government has also made a large campaign by displaying, on the side of the road, many signs promoting the protection of the nature with slogans such as “Trees are the lungs of our earth: protect them!”.
For the petrol, we haven’t had any specific issues. We got use to have someone serving us at the pump and continued to convert the galons in litres to estimate prices. The petrol is a bit more expensive than in Colombia but we do not pay more than 1,20€/L.
However after crossing the city of Puyo, by going alongside the Amazonian rainforest and before to reach Sucua, we needed to use one of our additional petrol tanks. We have been caught by surprise for not seeing a drop of petrol on the 100 kilometres of straight lines alongside the forest.
In Ecuador, we have also been surprised by the number of people wearing daily traditional clothing. As they do not have the budget for a car, we can regularly see locals with a bundle waiting a bus on the side of the road which will take them to the next city. On some secondary roads, and particularly on the ones alongside the Amazonian rainforest, we can see them in the middle of nowhere at 10 kilometres away from the next city.
Crossing the Equator line marks the entry in the Southern Hemisphere. According to our calculations, we should be quite close to the Summer and the heat. But after 100 kilometres further near the Cotopaxi volcano, we have been welcomed by temperatures next to zero degrees and rain. Without a second thought, we wore our inner coat of motorbike jackets for the first time of the travel.
Riding it’s also sometimes mechanical issues. When we arrived in Ecuador, in Ibarra, we needed to do some maintenance on the sidecars including the adjustment of a valve. After enjoying to remove the side, taking out a cylinder, checking the camshaft, the crankshaft and the cam cogs before to fix the defaults, we needed to put all the parts back together. This means to screw some nuts with a specific force. For this, we need a torque wrench that we didn’t have in our toolboxes.
Without a second thought, we used the sidecar still working to go in the street of mechanics to find this tool.
In Ecuador, like in Colombia, the shops selling the same products are all in a same street. Therefore there is the street of televisions, the one for fridges, the one for travel agencies and therefore the one for mechanics. To find the torque wrench, we tried every shop and every corner of the street. The Ecuadorians, being sorry for not having the tool we are looking for, were recommending us to try in the competitor shop in front of them. In the second-to-last shop of the street, the person recommended us another shop but for agricultural tools this time. That was 3 blocks away in the street of strimmers, spades and hoes. Indeed, after looking during 3 hours, we finally found the precious tool!
Even finding a tool in an unknown country and unknown city, it’s like an adventure!
Mission accomplished, we managed to reassemble the engine and go back safely on the road towards South.