RobT: Well, today we found the phone number and address for the BMW dealership in Quito and RobC got some much needed service work done. Oil change, rear brakes and the starter was serviced. The starter was not sounding good at all and was getting worse by the day. Last thing we needed was to be stranded somewhere with a bad starter, so it was money well spent.
RobC: Carlos, the BMW mechanic, said he could make the startr sound like new again by giving it a good cleaning and performing a regular "maintenance." I don't know what he did because I was busy drying my stuff after many days of penetrating rain, but he spent nearly two hours working on the starter motor. No problem, especially since labor at this top dealership (which also handles BMW and Porche cars) is 16 US hour. Parts is another matter, so I was glad I had the brake pads with me.
RobT: Left the dealership around noon and headed for Cuenca, or so we thought. Ended up spending over an hour getting through Quito, but what an hour it was!!! Lots of fun with the traffic!! you will see the video later when we have a decent Internet connection to upload it.
Riobamba was our new destination because the afternoon was progressing, plus it was raining of course. Stopped by a roadside restaurant, ordered some sandwiches, 2 beers, 2 homemade ice creams and a 26oz bottle of rum (for tonight) ..... total cost .... 12USD!!! The mighty Cotopaxi volcano was off in the distance, veiled by cloud. We ended up at Baños that night, thanks to Hank's recommendation. Yes, Murphy was riding pillion once again as it rained for most of the ride ... day number 19 with rain. (Interpretation/translation by RobC: Murphy refers to Murphy's law, which says that if something can possibly go wrong, it will. And pillion is the back seat of a motorcycle.) Not to say we haven't had sunshine, we have, but we haven't had a day in 19 without significant rain while riding - usually in the afternoon. By the way, my Olympia pants would be great for panning gold. The only thing that would keep from passing through is sand and stone. I was soaked all the way through once again. Good thing it wasn't too cold for very long .... but we did have 6.5 Celcius (43 F) at 3500 meters (11,000 feet) for about 20 minutes before the road headed into the valley to Baños. Thank god for heated grips!!!!!! Remember I lost my waterproof gloves the first day. I have a leather, non-waterproof pair, which now has duct tape holding the index finger of the right hand together and yes ... I bought them new before the trip.
Baños is a tourist destination with lots of activities ranging from white water rafting, swing jumping, jungle tours, mountain biking, plenty of bars and restaurants, thermal baths (which is what Baños is famous for, as the name indicates) and rock climbing. On the way in we both thought to ourselves and then later verbalized that fact that we thought Baños was a (expletive deleted) when we first rode in. Tons of run-down structures, dirty and really nothing much until we rode around, found the downtown and spoke to a few people. We even, if you can imagine this, rode down the wrong way on a one way street .... in front of the Police. They put the sirens on and we pulled into a hostel as if it was our destination. They stopped at the driveway looked at us and of course we ignored them. Lights went off and they drove away. In our defense, the streets were poorly marked, if at all. The streets in the town were barely wide enough for one car but the sidewalks were well-elevated and wide. Definitely a pedestrian-friendly town.
Sorry, no photos today due to the nasty weather .... but we made a very cool video of our lane-splitting gymnastics in Quito.... which is taking too long to upload ... 16% in 3 hours, so not time for that now. We will post it later.
RobC: Rob and I have gravitated into a definite role division system, as if we were a couple for heaven's sake (the odd couple, for sure). When we come in from a ride, he quickly unpacks his stuff from the bike, plugs in all his rechargeables, takes a shower, gets some Coke to mix with the rum, downloads the day's pictures and videos and starts a new blog, all at a dizzying pace. As for me, I negotiate the hotel, get information on where to eat and what we should not miss in the area, plan the next day's route on the GPS and physical maps, and then I start editing the blogs produced by Mr. Speedy and fill in some of the gaps.
We don't talk much in the evening, as we are busy working, or in the morning, as we are busy packing and trying to get on the road. But once we are on the bikes, the fun starts. The power under the seat supplies the adrenaline for sheer pleasure and laughter. Thanks to our bluetooth intercom system we comment on many things we see, joke around about funny things that happen along the road, relate stories and anecdotes, and we generally act like "happy pigs wallowing in the mud."
At border crossings I get quite nervous, as if I am doing something illegal (I should see a psychologist about that). RobT, on the other hand, just stands around looking slightly puzzled, watches our stuff, and happily inspects a new stamp in his Canadian passport when it is all done. And so we complement each other and look forward to the daily and inevitable adventures.