I was back in Guayaquil after a month long bus tour of the Peru north coast. All I could think about was getting back on the bike and going to places the tourists had not yet spoiled. I had been on long, hot, sweaty, filthy, stinking bus rides and had traveled to the cities and towns discussed in the guidebooks. In these places I was just another gringo reliant upon taxi drivers and hotel owners and restaurants. I had needed to pay someone for everything and the thieves and other rip-off artists had all made their attempts. It had been exhausting to always be on the alert. Still, you never paid the same prices as an Ecuadorian or a Peruvian.
Back on my bike I would control everything. I paid nothing for my travel. With the fuel I had purchased in Guayaquil I could cook my own food the way I liked it and when I had the opportunity I could sleep in my tent. Being off the tourist path meant cheaper hotels and food too.
Guayaquil from the Rio Guayas
Having now seen southern Ecuador along the coast and then the Peru north coast I decided to ride up into the Andes. I would ride to Cuenca. I hadn’t ridden in a month and prior to that my conditioning had not been very good. It would be a stretch to ride up into the high mountains, but I had another 25 days on my Ecuador visa and ascending the high mountains always brought me much joy.
I left Guayaquil early in the morning, riding through the center of town on streets that were blocked off each Sunday for cyclists. Then there was some heavy city riding on E70 and over two bridges to the town of Duran. After passing through an industrial area the road went into banana country with occasional rice patties.
I didn’t want to ride too far on my first day back in the saddle and began asking about hotels in the small pueblos I passed through and was told there was nothing until El Triunfo. It was easy flat riding and I took it slow and made El Triunfo after a lunch of pork cubes and corn. The hotel had rooms for $7 a night and was located across the street from a Tia supermarket where I stocked up on supplies. The next day I expected to hit the mountains. I was to be tested early.