Gasoline in Ecuador is a fraction of the price it is in Colombia. If everywhere sold gasoline for $1.48 US a gallon, we'd be able to travel for a lot longer! It was strange going back to spending US dollars, but it does make stock piling them for our time in Argentina much easier.
The road to the Colombian border was fun. Especially after the cold wet ride to Pasto.
The border crossing from Colombia to Ecuador was straightforward. I rode past the very long line of trucks waiting to leave Colombia, parked and gave my bike documents to the customs man (who rather worryingly didn't give me anything back, but assured me everything was as it should be).
My passport was stamped out at the window with even less fuss. I then entered the fray of money changers to get rid of the fistful of Colombian pesos I had left. A guy near the customs place had said he'd give me $48 but he was no where to be seen when I was ready to make the deal.
A lady said she'd give me the same rate, and typed it into her calculator, but her calculator worked it out at $38! I was furious and started yelling at her for trying to rip me off. She disappeared pretty quickly. Not sure how she'd rigged her calculator but it was a scam that I could see people falling for. Be forewarned!
I found an honest money changer, and then hopped back on my bike and drove into Ecuador.
The queue for getting my passport stamped into Ecuador was pretty long, without Phil to watch my bike, I parked it in the "taxi only" parking where I could see it from the line, and waited my turn. The Colombians in the line near me were very impressed that I was riding a motorcycle so far.
The customs man was very nice, he explained that I needed to have some photocopies, and to buy insurance, before he could process my temporary importation papers. I headed over to the insurance office (a corner shop across the road) and soon I had my copies and a month's worth of insurance for Cricket. I met a Belgian guy in the insurance office who had bought a car in Canada and he and his girlfriend were driving it down the Americas.
When I returned to the customs office there were two vehicles in front of me. I got chatting with the Colombian family who were on their way back to Colombia and we passed the time taking endless pictures of me with each member of the family, and then with the bike as well. They were really nice, and gave me a map of Ecuador, pointing out their favourite destinations.
Once I was free to enter Ecuador, I rode to the nearest town for some lunch and to buy a SIM card for my phone. The kind man making my lunch was also Colombian, but had decided he'd rather live in Ecuador.
The rest of my ride to the small town of Otavalo was breathtakingly beautiful. Everything was so green and lush.
Once in Otavalo I consulted my hardly used Footprints travel guide and decided to head to the only hostel listed as having parking. El Rincon del Viajero is a great hostel, with private rooms including breakfast. It is owned by a friendly American guy, who also has a campsite just outside of town.
The main attraction in Otavalo is an excellent market. I spent hours the next morning bartering with little old ladies dressed in traditional dress, selling me alpaca socks, wooly hats, silver jewelry and scarves.
My whole shopping spree came to less than $30.
The results of my morning in the market
Later that afternoon I left the sweet little town, headed for the big city - Quito!