Day 142 – Otavalo, EC to Quito, EC

Day 142 – Otavalo, EC to Quito, EC      01/10/11      Mileage: 68

So after the morning fog lifted outside and from between my ears, I walked out for breakfast and strolled the market in Otavalo.

Not bad for $7 with a private bathroom. I’ve stayed in much worse for a lot more!

The famous market in Otavalo, or I should say the main market square, because on Saturday I hear the whole town is the market!

This artist had amazing paintings. I wish there were room on the bike…

The morning tasks check off, I packed the bike and rolled south for Quito which was only some 60 road miles away. However, the big event for the day was crossing the equator! I had the GPS screen displaying my current coordinates, and I was watching the latitude decrease with every passing mile working it’s way to 00.0000. Just south of Cayambe, I made it official and crossed into the southern hemisphere!

There is also a small park and sundial marking the equator’s position. The only other people there were a small group of 5 of Italian tourists, and I listened in on the tour they were getting and took some pictures.

Two of the Italian gals wanted their picture taken with the smelly gringo biker, so who am I to disappoint a lady.

After they left I had the place to myself, so is asked the gal working there if I could pull my bike onto the equator line for a picture.

This is the gal working there who let me bring the bike onto the sundial…she’s also pretty cute!

There have been some spots along the way on this trip that I knew I wanted to get the iconic picture, like the sign at the general store in Deadhosre, the Tropic of Cancer, the Arctic Circle…and of course this one. I’ve got many more to go…the Tropic of Capricorn, The “Man of the Dessert”, and of course the National Park sign in Tierra del Fuego to name a few. Pulling away I was laughing in my helmet, because at times this whole trip seems so surreal even to me…and that I’m living it. I’ve seen a hundred pictures of that line at the equator with dozens of other bikers and travelers standing in front of it…so it somehow seemed strange to finally be there in person.

Here are some stats for the first hemisphere of the trip:

Days: 142
Countries: 12
Border crossings: 17
Miles: 19,831
Kilometers:  31,915
Top speed: 89 mph (Not sure where the GPS recorded that?)
Ferrys: 5
Airplane rides: KLR – 1      Me – 2
Sets of tires: 3 (4th pair going on any day now!)
Oil changes: 4
Repair welds: 3
Flats:  0   (I may have just jinxed myself there!)
Weeks in spanish school: 3
Least expensive hotel: $7 (Hostal Maria, Otavalo, Ecuador)
Most expensive hotel: $110 (Hotel Barcelo, Guatemal City, Guatemala)

The road south continued to be fun all the way into Quito. I made a reservation at Hostal San Blas and the route there took me near Albert’s old bar, The Turtles Head, so I detoured for a picture. It was closed at the time or I would have went in for a few pints for sure.

 At the San Blas I dropped my stuff and pulled the KLR into the living room right outside the door to my room….now that is as secure as it gets short of putting her in the bed with me.

Hostal San Blas is the house in the middle…

Then, armed with my Footprint Guide to South America for Quito (Thanks to Bob W for that going away gift!), I set out to explore Old Town Quito.

Plaza San Blas outside my hostal

I toured the Basilica del Voto Nacional which is an amazing gothic church with outstanding views of the whole city from the spires. I’ll let the pictures do the talking here….

This catwalk goes across the roof of the sanctuary to the spire on the other side of the cathedral…the views from up there were great!

This is Jen, my photographer, and she’s visiting Quito from a small town 5 hours south of Quito.

Inside the clock tower…

After that I walked down to Independence Plaza in the heart the Old Town which is a great place to relax and people watch.

The National Policia down here use many different motorcycles…but also KLR’s!!

Plaza San Blas at night…

That night I went to the Vista Hermosa which is a nice bar/restaurant on the 6th floor rooftop of a building in the middle of the Old Town. The night views of the city were fantastic so I lingered up there for hours…or maybe it was just the cheap beer….but either way it was great!

Although I only rode 68 miles, it was a very full and rewarding day…the kind of day that will stand out from the rest as a truly great day.

18 Responses to Day 142 – Otavalo, EC to Quito, EC

  1. Deborah says:


  2. Arlene says:

    Lenny, I think that this was the best entry so far. Cannot believe the beauty of the Church and the hills and beauty of the area. Some of the pictures of the plaza are like old time pictures that people had in their homes years ago. You are having an unbelieveable experience and I am glad that you appreciate the beauty of it all and are sharing it with us. I know I couldn’t walk up and down those hills and glad I can see it all through your eyes. Thanks!!

    Can’t wait for Dad to come in and see this new entry……..he is out with the snow blower……we got about six inches.

    The pictures of you at the equator were unreal. All were great and keep up the good work and be safe. You have a very nice room for $7.00 and look like a great location..
    Love ya, Mom

  3. Jilly says:

    Congrats on making this major milestone! Fantastic pics of the equator, Quito and surrounds…you haven’t mentioned much about the fruit yet..when I traveled in Brasil, I was amazed at all of the “exotic” fruit that we never see here in the US, and every restaurant had a fresh juice section of the menu…maybe you haven’t hit any major growing regions yet, well it is something to look forward to! Happy trails 🙂

    • Lenny says:

      Thanks Jilly! Ha…yes, the fruit for sure….just one of many things I haven’t got around to mentioning! I saw the latest pics of the girls on FB…adorable! 😀

  4. lisa says:

    WOW! I am in awe of today’s blog! Amazing pics and I love the equator pictures. You are right, they are iconic and almost made me cry! Lol. But seriously, I got a bit emotional for you!! Love, Lisa

    • Lenny says:

      Thanks Lisa…..that was for sure one of the best days of the trip so far! Had enough snow yet up there!? Hopefully you’re at least getting some school snow days out of it!

  5. Eileen Powitz says:

    Lenny, we are enjoying your pictures and blogs! Enjoy yourself, we know that you are!!! Eileen and Steve

  6. john o says:

    Lenny, in all fairness, in the first hemisphere part of the trip, the most expensive hotel room , $110 dollar Hotel Barcelo in Guatemala City, did include “Room Service”.

  7. Bine says:

    Lenny, what kind of roooooom service ?

  8. Paul Bell says:

    Beers: ?

  9. Lenny says:

    Urrrrr….mmmmm…beers, yep.

  10. Lynn Hilliard says:

    What an absolutely beautiful city and the cathedral is breathtaking. Am sooooooo envious.

    Lenny, as a personal aside, puleeze quit saying “gal”….please.

  11. Tracy says:

    Uh, did the Hotel Barcelo include room service? Great pics Lenny. You are something else! So glad you are doing this.

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