Monday, August 29, 2011

Attention! The Toilet Now Flushes In The Opposite Direction

It was hard to say goodbye to this man!
After reluctantly leaving beautiful Valle de Cocora (and saying goodbye to our new buddy, the yellow lab we made friends with their,) we headed off for Popayan as we made our way closer to the border.   After spending the night there (not much to report) our goal was to get to Pasto the next day.  After a beautiful drive on windy mountain roads we came up to a town where a big Supermoto race was just finishing up.  Ty knew what it was right away and was disappointed that we had missed it; we did get to see one of the bikes used in the race though.  Traffic was crazy and as we kept inching down the road we noticed two Colombian guys on motorcycles in a parking lot.  One of the guys was riding a BMW GS 800 and the other guy was on a KTM 990 (Ty's dream bike) so we pulled over to chat with them.  We found out that they both lived in Pasto and had driven up for the race.  They were super nice and asked if we wanted to follow them back into town.  Traffic was bad, so when we finally got into town it was close to dark.  The guys, Jaime and Javier, helped us find a hotel and even took us out to dinner that night...What a great welcome to Pasto!
The guys pose for a picture amidst the chaos
The next morning we headed off for the border town of Ipiales, but planned to stop at Laguna de la Cocha on the way.  The lake was very beautiful despite the fact that it was quite cold outside!  When it started to rain we decided to stop in a nice little restaurant on the lake for some coffee and crema de trucha (an awesome soup made with fresh trout.)  I swear we saw snow flakes outside!

Warming up with a cup of coffee...

Ty and I by the lake
We made it to Ipiales that evening, but not much to report here either; it was just another border town.  I did manage to pick up a new pair of hiking boots in Ipiales, which, despite the financial hurt of the purchase, have been an absolute lifesaver.  No more cold, wet feet which makes all the difference in the world on the bike!  On the way out of Ipiales the next morning right before we reached the border, we drove by El Santuario de las Lajas, a beautiful gothic church that has a giant bridge spanning over a river and gorge that leads up to it.  We wanted to go in, but couldn't leave the bike all packed up in the parking lot.  We were afraid these guys would steal something off of it...

Never trust a llama in disguise... :)
El Santuario de las Lajas
After crossing the most legitamite, well-organized border of the trip (what a difference a continent makes!) we headed in the general direction of Quito, not exactly sure where we wanted to end up for the night.  It was a beautiful drive through mountains and valleys for several hours.  As we came around a curve in the road, I saw a tiny sign out of the corner of my eye mentioning something about the equator; Turns out, we were there!

The GPS proved it!
 We turned around and finally noticed the monument that had been built for visitors to check out.  A really nice girl (who also spoke perfect English) was waiting at the entrance of the monument to give an explanation of the significance of the landmark and why Ecuadorians say it is the center of the world.  It was a very important moment for both of us since neither of us have ever been to the Southern Hemisphere...New half of the planet here we come!

We made it to the Southern Hemisphere!

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