my 3 bags and cardboard box

The day I left Zamora, was long and emotional. I got up at around 7, finished packing my 3 bags and cardboard box that contained most of what I own..including my cameras. Then off to school to give make-up exams, and having to submit marks.

After that I had a very nice lunch with the family that owns the place were I was living.  The weather was warm and dry, so we ate on the patio. It was a very pleasant in the greenery of Andes looking east towards the Amazon.

Next was the Graduation ceremony for my class… followed by a get together at my favourite Cafe, and a chance to see some more friends before I left.  There are so many nice people I will miss.

I wanted to spend time on the coast before I left Ecuador. To do this it was important to take a bus from Loja that evening.  This required me taking a taxi at about 8 PM, to get to Loja by 11 PM, so I could catch a bus to get to Guayaquil by 8 AM to catch a bus to San Clemente.  In Ecuador it is not a good idea to plan on things working to such a tight schedule.

I knew this, but I still thought I would try,  with the idea if I didn’t make it, so what. I would at least try.  This is the country where, in the past,  a 3 hour visit to Loja turned into a 3 day stay because of mud slides on the mountain roads.

First hic-up was the taxi didn’t appear. I didn’t understand all the conversation, but I think the one that was supposed to drive me, took some people to another town and had not returned.  A taxi did arrive, we covered my 3  bags and cardboard box in plastic ( the taxis are actually four door pick-up trucks) and we set off. Before we reached the outskirts of town, the truck stalled.  It just lost all power.  The driver said it was his gas.

He called another driver and after transferring my 3 bags and cardboard box, and covering them in plastic we were off.  The road between Loja and Zamora can be a well paved and enjoyable drive  or it can be a slow, wet, foggy, rock and mud covered slog.

Luckily it was the former, this was one of the few times I have traveled it  where there wasn’t even any clouds to climb through.

We arrived with enough time for me to visit the washroom, stretch my legs, store my 3 bags and cardboard box,  have a small disagreement with a lady over which seat on the bus was mine, and then we were off to the big city of Guayaquil.

I have now learned how to sleep, fitfully, on busses.  The trip was uneventful.

We arrived at around 7:15 am.  I got a porter to help me move my 3 bags and cardboard box through the terminal. ( the Guayaquil bus terminal is massive…150 plus bus bays on three floors).  I had enough time to go to the washroom, stretch my legs and then load my 3 bags and cardboard box onto the bus and we were off.  This was about the 24 hour mark since I had gotten out of bed.

San Clemente is a small village on the road between two towns.  The bus stops, by request only, at the side of the road.  The driver and conductor had changed a few towns before so they were a little surprised when I asked to get off…and I asked for them to open up to get my 3 bags and cardboard box.  My friend Gerri was waiting for me ( I had phoned her so she knew when to expect me).. the conductor unloaded my 2 bags and cardboard box, hopped back on the bus and drove away….2 bags and cardboard box.

The bag with my camera equipment was still on the bus!

It was 11:30 in the morning.  Hot sun beating down. 60 lbs of luggage at our feet.  I looked at my 2 bags and cardboard box. I looked as my most cherished possessions disappearing over the hill.  What to do?

Call David.

David hopped on his moto, brought me a helmet, I gave some money to Gerri, David suggested she call Ramon to move the luggage, and we hopped on the bike to chase my camera…. two gringos speeding down the road on a motorcycle, the one on the back wearing a nice comfortable bright pink helmet… I don’t think anyone got pictures.

We arrived in Bahia after the bus had unloaded passengers, but was just moving around to unload packages… I got my camera back.  I then had to take a bus back to San Clemente, along with the pink helmet while David rode the bike back. I did not put my camera under the bus this time.  People looked at me, as I sat there clutching my camera bag  and a nice bright pink helmet.  No idea how many thought “another crazy gringo”

I finally made it to Gerri’s about 1 o’clock, safe, sound with my 3 bags and cardboard box and a story to tell.

My Christmas Motorcycle ride Part 1

122413-111I might be crazy.

I bought a motorcycle, and after having riden it for 600 Klms, I set out on a trip to visit my friend Geri on the coast of Ecuador.  Google said this trip would be 800 klms and 11 hours.  Yeah right.

I thought I had prepared for the trip… was I mistaken.

Issue 1.  How to keep my stuff on the bike.  My concern wasn’t that I would lose my bag, but that it would come losse, shift, and make me fall.  This caused me to stop every 75 to 100 klm to tighten and inspect my ropes.

Issue 2. Knowing where I was and where I was going. I am so used to road signs that tell you where you are and where to get where you are going.  Not so in Ecuador.  This, and the losing of my map, caused me to take a wrong turn that ended up adding many hours on to my trip… more on this later.

Issue 3 Asking for directions.  When I traveled with Ecuadorians, they had this infurating habit of stopping every few minutes to ask directions.  Now I understand why… after my first really wrong turn I started asking muiltiple times until I got a consensious of opiions as to the way to go.  My spanish really sucks, but everyone was extremely helpful…. sometimes really wrong, but always very helpful

Issue 4 Condition of the roads. 90 % of the roads I traveled were in very good to excellent condition… well built, smooth and just great to ride on.  The problem is that when the roads turned bad, they did so with little or no warning, and they were really really bad. One of the worst parts of the trip happened on the first day… I came up over a rise with a curve and the road disappeared… not to gravel but to rocks on a steep downhill.  I locked up my front brakes ( mistake) and slid and fell.  The good thing was I was in full rubber rain wear so there was no road rash, and no traffic… It was at least 15 minutes before the next vehicle… so no concerns that way.  There are some scratches on the bike, and I already had a banged up shoulder from moving some chairs at school the day before, so this didn’t help…they only serious damage was to my pride.

Issue 5 Ecuadorian Drivers When I first came here I thought the drivers were crazy… but a high percentage of the drivers here are very good… they just follow a different set of rules.  For example, my speed was about 60 to 70 on average. ( The bike can go faster, the rider isn’t comfortable above that)  This was in the middle range of what little traffic I encountered..some faster some slower.  My place on the road, as a motor bike, when there was traffic, was next to the shoulder, or if there was a clean hard shoulder, riding on it.   This allowed for drivers to pass..either me or in the other direction while giving space.    I also rode with my lights on all the time, which seemed to bother other drivers even in daylight.  The first couple of times I had two vehicles coming towards me was a little disconcerting, but I soon got used to it…feathered the throttle and had no problems.

The lights, and especially the horn are used to tell other drivers “I am here” so it is more of a greeting or friendly gesture… not like North America where the horn is “get out of my way.”  So when I heard a beep on the highway it was letting me know that they were passing…maybe in the other lane…maybe in our lane 

Issue 6 Weather I travelled along the edge of the rainforest, up, over and through the Andes, and along the coastal plains.  I did not encounter any Ice and Snow. I am too close to the equator for that, but everything else from hot, blazing sun to cold damp high altitude cloud/fog and torrential rain appeared.  All of these conditions could appear within an hour or two so  much time was spent packing and unpacking.. adding and removing layers of clothes.

And the wind.


Issue 7 Pictures and camera gear.  Actually this might be part of Issue 1.  Part of the reason for this trip was to take pictures, but, it was such a PITA to pull out my camera and then put it away that I didn’t bother very much.  What this means is parts of my journey will have to be revisited in order to capture the amazing beauty I saw and experienced on this journey.

So overall it was a worthwhile trip..I learned a lot about riding, Ecuador and most importantly about myself…I can be a stubborn idiot sometimes, but I can keep going when I need to and keep my cool.

I will add another post to this later…It was a 5 days trip so there is much more to add.

Christmas Motorcycle trip… The Orient

For the first time in many years, I am looking forward to Christmas!!!

Usually by this time I am so sick of all the music, and advertisements coupled with the dark and cold that I feel really down and depressed, I am hating the world… Here the season seems to have snuck up on me..  It might have to do with the lack of build up ..they just lite the tree in the town square last night … 1 week before the day.

As well I have planned an interesting trip.070812-213

Andes Moutains

Andes Moutains

I will be riding my bike up the eastern ( The Orient or Amazonian) side of the mountains, then cutting across the continental divide via Banos to the coast.  It is a 12 hour trip that I will spread over 3 or 4 days.  My bike, being chinese and indian, can only really run for 2 hours ( I have been told)  before it needs to cool down.  This will a nice leisurely trip with plenty of rest stops.  I am also taking the scenic route which should be safer for someone with my experience level.

Of course my rest stops will be places that I can wander with my camera.

I will then be staying with a friend on the coast… a former english teacher who has retired to live on the beach, where she can walk her dog for miles on the sand and watch the sunsets over the pacific… her days are as busy as she wants them to be…. a nice way to live.

Since I have until the new year off, but I need to get back to take care of Buster ( letting someone else take care of him for a week or so is OK… 2 weeks… asking a lot)  my return trip will also be leisurely, but my time in the sand will be short… just a couple of days.

Merry Christmas

Oh Oh… I can feel it Happening


wan·der·lust Listen to audio/ˈwɑ:ndɚˌlʌst/ noun

: a strong desire to travel [singular] ▪

It staring to happen again… I can feel it.

I “suffer” from wanderlust.  After being in a place for a while I need to get up and go, to explore, to see what is over the next hill, mountain, river, ocean.  One of the problems is I also hate to travel. When I get some place I want to stay there.

School is finished in a few weeks and I have some time off so I want to go, to see, to be somewhere else.  The thought of being on busses for the time it will take to get somewhere is putting a real damper on the whole idea.  So which will win out the getting on a bus or sitting in the same place.

Also it is decision time again.

I have committed to another cycle ( 6 Months) at this school.  I also have been offered to be part of a new venture involving animals, photography and a park.  This is all cool and exciting, but my wanderlust is starting to get in the way. It says “if you put down roots you may not see over the next hill” and I do want to see the whales, and the north coast, and further into the Amazon, and the deserts of Chile and the ruins in Peru and Thailand…..

What will happen?  I don’t know

Airports and waiting

I try very hard not to get connecting flights, I would rather fly direct.

Sometimes it just happens that I have to do a connecting flight. I am not great at waiting… Today is no exception.
I am at Bush international in Houston, with a 5 + hour layover. This is not my first time… I think I have spent more time in this airport then any other ( Toronto doesn’t count)… And this is only my third time here.
As airports go, it is nice, but it is an airport. And I can’t find a decent cup of tea ( why does Starbucks sell that bitter crap they do? ) What is interesting is listening to the accents over the intercom. It is very difficult to understand the thickTexas drawl of some of the agents.

Anyway I am in my normal state while traveling, tired, hot and grumpy….this may be why I travel alone most times. –

Location:,Houston,United States