Having found a nice resort 100 miles outside of Bogotá, I’d figured this would be a good place to finally splurge and relax before dealing with the madness of navigating one of the most traffic-plagued cities in SA and shipping Silver home. Unfortunately, while enjoying the pool the next morning and packing my bike, the staff approached me four different times and called my room incessantly to remind me that I had to check out before leaving and settle up any incurred expenses. Duh. For some reason, because I didn’t speak Spanish, the staff thought I had the IQ of a snail. It was really strange, and they treated me like an idiot. This was the first bad customer service interaction I’d had at a hotel…and it was the nicest place at which I’d stayed. Very strange and memorable.
The morning in Mocoa, Colombia, was relaxing. They don’t call it a Rain Forest for nothing… It had rained on me when I’d arrived and was pouring even harder the next morning. But when there was a brief lull, the owner of the hostel invited me out to feed some monkeys in the backyard. A solid Belgian guy, he knew how to run a hostel (aside from providing freezing showers). Casa Del Rio was situated right next to the Rumiyaco River, and there were a number of scenic swimming holes and waterfalls nearby. But the recent rains had turned the river into a cappuccino colored raging monster. Arriving the night prior, I could smell myself. The mudslide that turned my riding pants from black to “dirt” and made them smell ridiculous. An attempt to clean them in the shower was futile, and the cleaning lady will probably curse me.
"Trampolin de la Muerte"
Wanting to visit the BMW dealership in Quito and catch a glimpse of the historic center, I left Papallacta after an early morning soak in the hot springs. I headed toward town, and as soon as I pulled onto the pavement and into the thick mist, I met 15 other BMW GS riders who were charging down my side of the mountain for adventurous Saturday morning spin. Upon cresting the hill at 4,100m, the mist faded and revealed Quito, beautifully nested between volcanoes and a mountain range. Both addresses for the dealership led me in circles. Knowing I’d need to reach Otavala by mid-day, I eventually gave up. Due to traffic, it also took another 90 minutes just to get out of the northern half of town. I swore off cities for the remainder of the trip.
Needless to say, it was a pretty rough morning. Having nursed and thrown up all drinkable water, and not able to ride the bike, I walked a mile to town to find some liquids. This, and slowly packing took most of the morning, and I got a late start. The tenant was friendlier this morning…as was I. The route would take me through Loja (my planned destination last night) and Cuenca, a historic and beautiful mountain city. But, as usual, cities offer more hassles than rewards, so these were merely blips on the radar. I say hassles because the Panamericana will roll into a huge city and then disappear into the rest of the city streets. On occasion, a sign will point you along the path back out of town, but more often than not, a series of unmarked turns, forks, and detours will end you in the middle of a neighborhood…or at the end of a disappearing road. Because the international highway also has rough spots, meaning mud, gravel, and overall third-world quality, you can’t just discount a rough patch as being the wrong path.