Colombia’s Nariño Province – On Cloud Colombia

P1040350Our 32 day illegal stay in Ecuador had not gone unnoticed: we were stuck between countries, having signed a form we didn’t understand and been told to come back in an hour. As we waited, we met a family from Herefordshire, taking two years to cycle from Mexico to Argentina with their ten and twelve year old sons. They made us rethink what it means to settle down; an inspiration for our future family trip with Nico and Isabela.

It was a happy anticlimax when we were eventually waved through the border. Colombia is magic. Back in the country after our four month jaunt in Ecuador, Day One (take two) shows why… Continue reading

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RebSolomon ‘Does’…Ecuador: Pioneering Travel Since 2012

ecuador-mapAbout the Author: RebSolomon spent four months cycling around Ecuador and have gathered their thoughts into a short guide to the country. Few efforts have been made to ensure information is accurate or independent.

Background

Geography and Culture
Ecuador is roughly split into thirds: coast on the left, rainforest on the right, with a couple of spinal columns of mountains down the middle. Our guidebook assured us that we could visit all three in one day: good marketing, but complete bollocks. Continue reading

Ecuador’s Northern Highlands: The Little Brother

P1040035Every culture has its own accepted truths, and being exposed to so many different versions while here, we are frequently reminded that truth is subjective. Things that in our culture are unthinkable, in others are not only thinkable, but very much thought.

There are many overlaps, but some things don’t translate:
– Eating an entire roast chicken (in fact, all your meals) with only a spoon
– Using fat / thin / black / white as descriptions, or terms of endearment, without being though of as fattist or racist
– Viewing the ‘Western’ cultural and developmental model as an option and not the option

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Turning the Cogs: 1/ The Crowd Makes The Concert

You know what we’re doing, but what are we thinking? We suspect this topic is trending on twitter, so we’re seeking to replace Radio 4’s ‘Thought of the Day’ (with a little less faith thrown in), and bringing you ‘Turning the Cogs’ series, a window into the vast and endless ocean of our mind, aka RebSolomon’s random ramblings.

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Ecuador’s Coast: Warmer Climes and Smaller Climbs

P1030197We initially didn’t plan to visit the coast, but with an increasingly cavalier attitude to our (rapidly expiring…ok, we admit it, expired) visa, and keen for some warmer climes and smaller climbs, we headed to the beach for a change of pace.

On the descent, Sol found his inner cow – you can lead him up a mountain, but you can’t lead him down – as within minutes, he found himself sprawled on the floor rather than sitting in his saddle. Continue reading

Books not Bikes

P1030477Through conversations with friends and family, and comments on the blog, we’ve realised that we may have been misrepresenting our trip. This blog aims to set the record straight. Sure, there have been odd moments when we have found ourselves on a bike, but more often than not, we are sitting, heads lowered, taking little regard of the landscapes and people around us, exercising a different muscle…the right thumb, aka the kindle page turner.

The fruits of our 10 months: the RebSolomon Book Awards. We have chosen five of the best, from a total of 111 contenders. Be prepared for an onslaught of cliched comments… Continue reading

Ecuador’s Southern Highlands – Touching the Snow

P1020378 Two figures appear through the mist and rain, nothing visible but their eyes: everything hidden behind layers of hi-vis jackets, fluorescent yellow helmet covers, plastics bags over hands and feet. A bizarre vision, but a normal day in the life of RebSolomon over the past two weeks. The rain (aided by its partner in crime, cold wind) has knocked us about. After cycling two weeks through the Oriente, we looked about, and the tropics had gone. We had turned a corner at the top of a mountain, and without the opportunity for the emotional goodbye we had wanted, the rainforest had fallen away, replaced by big, peaceful lakes set in barren scrubland, craggy peaks at the edges of the view…for about five minutes, before the clouds swallowed us again. How can two sides of the same mountain be so different? Continue reading

Ecuador’s Oriente: A Haze of Rain and Sugarcane Rum

P1020014We said a sad goodbye to Celia – it’s been special to share the experience with someone else, especially someone so fun and open-minded…or this is how we used to feel, before she described us as the cycling equivalent of tortoises in her guest blog. Celia left us in one of the most luxurious places we’ve stayed – swimming pool, hot shower, full board, and all for free. On our last night, our host treated us to beers, drunk in coffee mugs, a simple yet effective method of circumventing Ecuador’s Sunday prohibition. Continue reading

Ecuador – Tales of a Guest Third Wheel: ‘On your motorbikes it’ll take you 10 minutes to get there’

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For this blog we’ve handed over the keyboard to our friend Celia, with whom we spent two weeks in the Ecuadorian Andes and rainforest…

Having just spent two magical weeks with South America’s most famous cycle touring couple, I’ve been given the exclusive blogging rights to our adventure – provided I keep the word count down and don’t say anything bad about them. So, here goes…

I met the pair early one morning off a sweaty and loud overnight bus (from Quito) in the picturesque colonial town of Cuenca. After dumping the bag and offloading the vast quantities of UK chocolate and cheese, we caught up on all the gossip over breakfast (boiled maiz and café con leche) in the market and wandered into town to stock up on supplies and pick up the bike. It was picking up the bike when I got ‘the fear’; it being twice as chunky and heavy as my road bike and me being sure that if I struggled up the Surrey Hills then I’d be no better in the mountains, especially with the altitude. Continue reading

Ecuador’s Central Highlands – The Only Way is Up

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Moments after leaving Sol’s parents, we were talent-spotted. Our talent: being white. We proudly left Quito as the stars of a community-funded advert for city’s latest sweetcorn-snack. For anyone in the industry, our repertoire extends to all corn-based snacks.

We had been assured that the train track out of the city was both disused and suitable for cycling. As we were contemplating the ankle-deep rocks, an inter-city passenger train roared past. Undeterred, we continued to seek advice, with equal levels of success – regardless of junctions ahead and dead ends, Ecuadorean directions consist purely of ‘sigue no mas’, loosely translated as ‘just keep going’. Four beautiful but confusing days of winding around Los Ilinazas volcanoes, and incomprehensible villagers on horseback our only companions (where was their village?!), we were relieved to arrive at our hosts and second organic farm, volunteering with a Kichwa community at 3,250m. Continue reading