In the last couple of posts I have told you about a bicycle ride I took the other day with a young man named Juan. Juan and his family own a large tract of land on the north side of the point that divides San Clemente, Ecuador from the beaches north of our town. That area of the beach continues on up to Chirije and then on to Bahia and the Chone River and is only accessible during low tide. We have published posts about Chirije in the past, but I had never explored the land up around the point and I jumped at the chance to go with Juan to see his land.
From what Juan told me on Thursday it sounded like the trip would be a causal bike ride up good roads affording a nice overview of the ocean and that we would be gone perhaps two hours. So, I grabbed a water bottle and headed out. I have bad knees and walking (especially downhill) is difficult as the knees want to buckle and grow weary and sore quickly. Before I left Mary asked me if I wanted to wear my knee braces, but I told her, “No, I won’t need them, we are just taking a casual bike ride.”
Since the marine layer of clouds generally hovers around until about 10:00 AM, I also neglected to take sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat, and several other items that a wiser traveler would have thought of. After all I would be back safe and sound by ten or ten thirty and had no need for those little items.
Now I do not want to sound like a whiner, but…
I know there are some communications limitations with my intermediate Spanish aptitude, but I am sure that Juan told me that we would be riding on good roads, gentle slopes, and that he was sure that an old man could make it easily. He told me to bring the camera and that we would be only two hours or so.
Indeed I was reassured the trip would not be too arduous when Juan came out wearing flip-flops and a tank top carrying only a small pack with a water bottle. We hopped on our basic no-frills bicycles and took off up the beach.
Shortly after we got around the point we turned inland, went through an access gate and started traveling on new roadways that had been cleared by a track driven tractor with a front end blade. On the flat the roadways were not too bad, but on the slopes the newly created roads were loose and rutted and often quite steep.
It became obvious that I had bitten off more than I could chew in the first hour as we made it back to Juan’s family farm area. They had cleared a lot of the land and were in the process of planting yucca and plantana plants.
There was a nice spring fed creek that runs through the property that will provide water for the crops.
Juan told me that while he and his uncles have been clearing the land they have seen many wild animals. He told me about seeing some wild cats he called, “Colocolo.” He described these cats as being about one meter long with red or brown stripes. He also told me that there are a lot of armadillos in that area. We did not see any colocolos or armadillos, but I did get this long-range picture or a bird that was new to me. His bright red body stood out against the dry background of cleared brush.
Although I have complained a lot about the hardships we had during our ride, in truth we had a great time.
It is true that the chain on Juan’s bike chain started slipping and we both occasionally picked up stray branches that got stuck in the gears. It is true that the slope and terrain at times were simply impassable on our bicycles. And it is true that there were several material misrepresentations of fact in Juan’s assessment of how good the roads were. But, the real kicker occurred after we were already well off the beach when the chain on my bicycle broke. Had that not occurred, I would have just had sore legs and a story to tell when we got home close to the expected time.
But, it did break and although Juan, in true Ecuadorian spirit took the set back in stride and even tried to fix the chain using a small socket wrench I carry to change flats, a rock, and his keys. We could not find a part of the chain needed to hold the repair together and the repair would not hold.
Nevertheless we did get lots of good pictures of the ceibo trees that I posted yesterday and these views from the roadway and top of the butte on Juan’s property.
In a few of these pictures you can see a far away shot of a home that is being built by a German Ex-pat named Helge. He is building his house to look like a ship. Here is a zoomed in shot of Helge’s house on the beach.
The views were endless and at times we could see far out to sea from the higher levels.
After that we needed to walk and carry the bicycles up and down the path to get back to the beach. By the time we got to the beach my knees were throbbing and I just wanted to get home and get my feet up. BUT…
The extra time taken walking the bikes out got us to the beach after the tide had come up too high for us to pass. Knowing that Mary would be worried, I took out the cell phone to call her only to find that the area had no cell coverage.
The marine layer of clouds that had shielded us all morning now was burning off and Juan and I had to wait around for about two hours in the relentless sun before the tide receded enough to allow us to wade around the jutting rocks carrying our bicycles over our heads to get around the point.
After that it was just a simple hour-long walk on my semi-crippled knees and aching feet pushing my damaged bicycle back home where I stumbled through the door nearly seven hours after I had left that morning.
I did call Mary after we rounded the point and she had time to calm down before I hobbled in to the house and she (thankfully) did not remind me too many times of the things I should have ascertained prior to the trip and the things I should have brought with me.
I recovered and found a replacement chain at the all-purpose tienda in town called, “Casi de Toto” (which means, “Almost Everything”) for only $2.70. The bike is repaired and I am anxious to go again…NOT!
Still, life is good in Ecuador.