0 Degrees

Feature image is taken from top of 8 story monument overlooking the absolute latitudinal of the earth.

Will and I are bugging Marc and Oliver everyday for a field trip — like in public school.  Instead of full out riding, maybe stopping to really get into the life of the locals.  Were generally stopping in a gas station to gather everyone who may be lagging, but we rarely stop in towns.  It sucks really.  Yah, we see the towns and we may stop for lunch, but go somewhere along the route which is interesting — like a field trip we took in grade 3.  We missed our chance for a coffee plantation, how about chocolate, thats big in Ecuador?  Sugar cane of which there are literally hundreds of miles shadowing along our route.

Well today we got two outings.  First was to a local market — apparently famous, but likely not after seeing it.  It was a large market, yes, but famous, noooo.  The usual South American market you may see in Peru or other places with hundreds of stalls and only tens of people wandering.  I hung with Will and it was fun.  Remember, Will comes from Thailand and he has a great sense of humor — this shit is everywhere in the world including Bangkok.  I suppose when we get to Peru at least they have Alpaca or something different.  This stuff is also not hand made and could be made in Thailand.  Again, in Peru, you can find real hand made stuff and probably in Ecuador too, but not this market.  After 30 minutes, Will and I went to a coffee shop to have REAL Ecuadorian coffee.  it was good and the shop overlooked the bazaar which was fine.

We met the group after an hour and we left to our next field trip outing, The famous but not so visited center of the Earth on the latitude; 0 degrees, 0 minutes and 0 seconds.  I think this could be a highlight.  It took us about 2 hours of good solid riding in the mountains and then another hour cutting through Quito, the capital city of Ecuador to get to the park which houses the actual center of the earth median.  At points the ride was rough with bad roads, but no issues.

Attending the park, I was a bit surprised that it was pretty big with lots of retail stores, a huge pavilion, a monument that you can climb about 8 stories and it looks over the entire landscape along with exhibits such as an egg perfectly balancing on the middle of the earth — no clue how that works?  But where are the visitors?  I guess who the fuck would go to Quito in the first place?  Second, if you wanted to come to visit this park, you need your head examined if this is the reason for your trip, so its empty and very well kept unlike every building between here and a thousand miles.  I guess Unesco takes care of it, don’t know.

Anyway, I thought it was super neat to be here.  More than I could imagine to think that I visited it.  After a few hours, we all gathered and left for our early reception at the San Francisco Hotel in not so beautiful Quito.

I have been thinking about how to describe South America and here goes…

If MAD MAX was resurrected in 2018 after the apocalypse, this is what he would see.

Ok, a bit over-dramatic, but really, its not far from the truth.  Most buildings are destroyed and never kept in a good condition.  Everything is damaged and rebuilt with garbage, hard and industrial in a rusted and dirty and grimy way.  You can repeat that scene through every city, large and small and every town I see.  It gives you a real respect for the people.  They by in large seem to live life without issue and pass days in this environment successfully I suppose.  Not really moving forward — just moving.  Good prices though.  Below is a little shop selling a chicken and ham sandwich for $1 — not bad.

Hotel San Francisco is no exception.  Actually the lobby is nice enough and has tons of tropical plants surrounding it.  But the rooms fail the grade of course.  It’s a room and tiny at that.  My stuff is scattered everywhere because of the lack of space — a bed and thats it.  Worse, no hot water for my shower and that means the — put one limb at a time under freezing cold water, soap, rinse and repeat the next limb.  Head is the worst for shampooing.  I need to get practice at this since its the 3rd night in a row we have had this issue.  We did have very weak wifi at least and thats a first for a while.  Oh, no heat in the rooms and it is in the low 40’s tonight.  Were at 9,333 ft altitude.  I’m going to bed with all my winter clothes on — and I’m still cold.  Got a single towel for everything and I just don’t understand why they cant spring for a second towel?  Bottom line; who cares — I don’t.  Its just observations.

Dinner was with a whole bunch of us — except the Thai guys.  It was super fun too.  I met a grandmother from Long Island, NY who was taking her grandson to Equador and the Galapagos Islands during his university Christmas holiday break.  She was in her 80’s and took each of her grandkids on a trip to an exotic location after they finished high school.  She was very opinionated and a bit rough around the edges, but she was fun and her grandson did not say a word because she was so dominant.  I talked to the first year college boy on the side about Corbin living in NYC and he was cute and taking it all in.

Tomorrow is our first down day — 6 days of riding and 1 day off.  I am ready for that.  My ribs kill and I need the down time to catch up from the crazy pace.  I think we are about 1/10th the way to our end goal.

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