After the Quilotoa lagoon, it was only a small downhill to Zumbahua, where i arrived during the busy saturday market. Hats are a must there and the streets were filled with people in their tradional clothes, mostly colourful while young and old wearing a fitting headpiece. I changed my brake pads which was drawing a interested audience and it took a while longer while answering so many questions. After a late breakfast, i started the paved climb out of the valley.
It would be the last stretch of paved road i would see for a couple of days before taking the turn-off to the dirt road to Angamarca. Along the way i saw some llamas grazing, a view i guess will become common from now on.
I stayed a night in Angamarca after a remarkable downhill of around thousand meters in altitude. The next day continued up and down until i came to El Empalme. I only wanted to stay for a break at a tienda, but after some chatting to the family and playing a concert, to which a truck filled with people stopped at the road side, i accepted an invitation by the family to stay the night.
We took a walk through the mountains past blackberry plantations to their farm, where they grow corn, fruits and have several animals. Kids seem to learn quickly here. After trying to get hold of one of the chickens, this girl, after being shown it only once by her mother, was able to do it herself.
Before dinner i wanted to go for another walk and, climbing the hill in the back of the family’s house, the cloudcovered coastal plains came into view.
The views grew more and more promising, and i continued uphill and that planned little walk to stretch out my legs turned almost into a proper hike.
The light slowly started to fade and i just sat down for a while and watched the sun set.
Until a group of children were making its way to my locations. Which turned out to be mostly the children of the family, some of them just returning from a soccer tournament and the fiesta down at El Corazon, sent by their father to look for me, as they were concerned i might have got lost. Chatting while returning to the house with the oldest daughter about her study plans and universities in Germany, we arrived in time for dinner and the obligatory blackberry juice. Perfect for me, but i’m not to sure the kids are still excited about it after having it three times a day during the season.
The next morning was pretty relaxed riding but later it was a long climb before reaching Simiatug and i was glad to find a good guest house to rest. A good decision as it turned out as the next day started with an even heavier climb and, nearing 4000m, the heaviest wind i have encountered yet on this trip, joined in. Since the road was leaving in switchbacks towards the pass, it meant i could cycle with only little effort in one directions and had difficulty even pushing my bike into the other. Some encouragement came from a bus driver who stopped to hand me some caramel out of the window.
Through a windy and cloudy world the road changed to cobblestone after cresting the pass but after fifteen kilometers led me to a paved road, where i turned east towards Chimborazo. The last couple of days cycling took its toll and after only some kilometers from the main road between Ambato and Guranda and the turn-off to Riobamba i pushed the bike off the road into a barren country to set up camp. The rain luckily waited until i had pitched the tent and while i was cooking dinner changed to snow, which seemed the fitting weather for this sort of country.
Having no idea how far i was from the mountain, as i could hardly see two hundred meters, i was at least so lucky that for some fleeting moments i could have a glimpse of Chimborazo. The curtains drew for a couple of seconds but, by the time the camera was out, there was hardly anything to see anymore.
Passing the visitor’s centre, the long downhill starts towards Riobamba. my campspot was around 4400 meters and i was packed in four layers of clothes. By the time i reached the next small village and was received with the words: “it’s cold, isn’t it”, i could only smile and started to peel off two layers of cloth as it was getting too warm.