Day 2 was about twice as long as it needed to be. There was an extra loop in our GPS so we took a very scenic route! It was a good ride day though & the weather was good so I considered those bonus miles! We left the gorgeous Hacienda near Otovalo and headed towards El Alcantilado Lodge. Today was the first day we saw the ocean! It was also our first day of many police checkpoints.
We worked our way to Cotacachi, roamed off course, and eventually found ourselves back on track towards Salinas which was one of the wealthiest towns in Ecuador during their salt mining days. The first police check point we passed though just waved us on. The second was very close to the border of Columbia. We knew we would have to produce paperwork & passports at this stop. It went quickly. We parked, stood in line, and answered a few questions before being released. Everyone was very polite & efficient.
The ride today was so pretty! The mountains are green & lush. The road ranged from cobblestone to nice pavement for the most part. We stayed at lower elevations & warmed up slowly as we worked our way to the ocean. The homes were simple shacks on wooden stilts. Usually without windows or doors. We kept seeing people drying modest amounts of something on the road side & eventually realized it was cacao! We saw a larger drying facility with workers & I wanted to go back & check it out! On this trip, I don’t want to miss any opportunities to experience local customs & meet new people!
No one spoke English, but they were happy to let me wander around & look. They smiled, took pictures with me & attempted to answer my questions. The people were so friendly! We drew a small crowd as people came out to see what we were up to. That was a common occurrence on this trip. People aren’t shy about coming outside to watch what you are doing! At this facility, one man was standing in a hot open room stirring & drying peppercorns in an over-sized metal, hot, tub on the back edge of the property. The people work so hard for such a small amount of product. It was humbling.
We saw countless cattle, dogs, donkeys & horses along the roadside today. That theme continued most of the trip. Everywhere we went Shawn found a scroungy mutt to pet!
We had a late lunch at Playa las Penas where we finally saw the ocean! I ordered something off the menu at a beach side restaurant that was apparently meant to be shared so we had a good laugh at my huge plate of seafood! I shared, but when we were done it still looked like I hadn’t eaten! The staff here was friendly, but I was a bit concerned after lunch when I wanted to wash my hands. They lead me out to a rain bucket where they used what looked like a clean dog bowl to dip into it & let me wash. They did have soap, but I was nervous we might all end up sick after lunch. Luckily we all were fine!
Leaving, we headed south down the coast another 50 km to our lodge in Same. The El Alcantilado Lodge in Same was quaint. We were greeted by an American who recently moved there with her husband. The husband’s parents owned the facility. Everyone was friendly, but this was our least favorite spot to stay. There were a lot of ants in the room. Rob & Staci had a toilet that didn’t flush & their room smelled. Our bathroom was fine, other than the ants & the clear view into the room above us! Shawn’s pants became a temporary curtain!
We had a nice view of the ocean from our balcony & for one quick night, our room was ok. Definitely not the worst place I have ever stayed, but on this trip, it was the least desirable. The restaurant closed before we got there due to our late arrival & they weren’t able to sell us any snack foods. They did have a large bottled water dispenser so we re-hydrated & chatted before heading to our room. Shawn & I spent a little time on the balcony listening to the ocean & visiting before heading to bed. This is the second place in a row that left a candle & matches by the bed. I assume they must have issues with consistent power, but we didn’t have any problems.
We had a great conversation here with a family from Ecuador that now lives in Peru when we arrived, & again the next morning. We enjoyed their company. The man’s English was very good & he was really informative about the area. He encouraged us to skip visiting Peru by motorcycle. He said the roads are poor & it is not nearly as nice or safe as Ecuador. He suggested just flying in & visiting a few tourist spots then moving on to somewhere else. After breakfast & some conversation, we hit the road, excited to ride the coast & get to our Canoa Beach Hotel! Thankfully, this was the last night we rode after dark. I hate missing out on scenery!
Day 2 was another great experience. What a journey!