Ecuador and the Concluding Drama of Part One
After months of anticipation and a morning of pacing-the-lobby-impatience, my buddy finally walks in the front door of the hotel and any and every hardship you may have endured to meet back up melts away as laughable in that teary-reunion-scene. Life reminds you what’s important. Hangovers ensue.
After we have had enough of the beach-scene we hop the border north and I get back on the bike. From there it's my buddy busing and me riding on ahead, and after a few honest-attempts we iron-out our rendezvous procedure post a few miraculous-meet-back-ups in the next-destination-towns. Returning to Cuenca on a rainy Sunday night feels a bit like I’m coming home after a long weekend away. Further north and Banos exceeds all expectations with thermal springs and rad chillness. Back in the interior, Tena on the jungle-side of the Ecuadorian Andes provides a slower pace and gems for us to discover together day-tripping two-up on Aroha with wind in the face and grins under our sunglasses.
While I'm unloading the bike at a hotel in Quito I hop down the stairs for a final load of gear and none-other-than my former-riding-compadre Josh is just standing there grinning like a Cheshire cat, as he happened to be walking by and recognised the bike. Such are the co-incidences on the road. He introduces us to an even cooler hostel round the corner with rooftop terrace and best-seats-in-the-house views out over the city which fast becomes our home for our final shared-time in the capital. The occasion comes pretty quick for my mate to move his own chapter along to the orphanage where he’ll be teaching English for the next ten weeks. I go and visit for a night and marvel at the openness of those fragile kids, and see for myself how well-played an experience this is for my buddy as kids climb all over him and he relishes in his new space. You just know when someone is where they are meant to be and it's beautiful.
Ecuadorian orphan kids sharing the love and getting kicks off rabbit-earring their buddies - cjG
An incredible clarity comes over me around that time that a kind of closing to the current season is descending, maybe Part One of this Trip is drawing to a close, having looked so frighteningly tenuous from all the lead-up. All the final loose puzzle pieces snap perfectly into place over about a 24hr period: Christmas comes early for me as a package I had sent over from home is collected from the efficient Ecuadorian customs office; my engine-upgrade comes off without a hitch with the spare parts my buddy brought down with him from the States for me; and my new & improved bike ownership paperwork comes off looking genuine-as (I learn a bit about photoshop along the way). Suddenly we’re sitting having our final beers together and it's just been magic having such a familiar friendly face to hang out with here on this far-away continent.
Riding out of Quito and across the equator into the northern hemisphere and towards Columbia I’m alternately flawed at my good fortune in the wake of the weight of all my unnecessary worry in the past, and singing Jeff Buckley's 'Hallelujah' into my helmet, and grinning into the welcoming arms of South America Part Two.
Bye bye southern hemisphere, hola northern hemisphere and welcome to Chapter Two of the South American Chronicles - cjG