Thursday, 16 July 2015

The Spondylus highway - Guayaquil to Puntoviejo

Cycling the Spondylus highway

We were itching to get onto our bikes again after a fantastic 10 days in the Galapagos Islands.
We were on the road by 6:30am, eager to beat the heat and the inner city traffic.  We had a very smooth exit from the city center thanks to it being Sunday, and to us finding a cycle path about 5km out of town.  Even though we were following a busy road, being on the cycle way seemed so much more peaceful and it meant we could relax and talk.
We passed a lot of people out on the cycle path - it felt good to see local Ecuadorians out enjoying their own country.  
After our morning tea, Toni from Guayaquil pulled up along side us.  He was keen to talk but his conversation starter was a bit odd.... ´how old are you? I´m in my 60´s´
We chatted away in broken English and Spanish... with a bit of Italian thrown in.  He was supposed to turn off to Playas about 60km away but decided to join us on his biggest ride yet to Salinas.  It was nice to have company and to support him on a ride he probably wouldn´t have done without us.

On arriving in Santa Elena, we decided to find a hostel there rather than doing an extra 16km out and back to Salinas.  Toni said goodbye and headed off to finish his ride before bussing home.
We later took a bus out to Salinas to have a look - it is the biggest resort town on the south coast and the most westerly town on the Ecuadorian mainland.  It looks a bit like Miami with its huge high rise apartments and hundreds of people on the beach... not our cup of tea, but it was good to see.
We headed back on the bus to have a meal of chicken and chips for $2.50 each and hit the hay.  It had been a long day of 135kms... which was a bit of a shock after our very relaxing 10days.

We had another early start after an amazing sleep - it must help to exert yourself as we both slept like logs.
 We found ourselves on a lovely quiet coastal road and saw many fishermen hauling in nets off the beach.

We stopped off in Montinita  for a breather, but ended up staying for 2 hours as there was free wifi on this promenade and delicous nutella and fresh fruit crepes... nom nom!

We finally dragged ourselves away from Montinita and headed inland towards the town of Puerta Lopaz.  We found ourselves cycling through lovely tropical forest over rolling hills.  It was beautiful... and to top things off, we came across a whole heap of fresh oranges that must have just fallen off the back of a truck!  We loaded up our panniers with as many as we could carry, and squeezed the rest into our drink bottle.  yum.

We cruised into Puerto Lopez at about 3pm and found a great hostel on our first enquiry!  We booked ourselves on a Whale watching tour starting at 10:30 the next day.  Then it was off to the beach for a swim and dinner.

 Check out this Marlin that we saw come in on a little fishing boat!
This shot shows how close the whales came to the boats.

The Whale watching tour was awesome and well worth the $25 each.  We saw well over 15 Humpback Whales swimming, playing, mating and splashing around.  We saw 2 breach right out of the water - what an incredible experience.

Once again we found it hard to drag ourselves away from a beautiful beach location.  We were very tempted to stay another day and go out Whale watching again.  But, time is ticking and we need to keep making our way towards Quito.

We had a later start the next day as we only had 45km to travel but we wanted to stop off at Los Frailes beach in the Machala National Park. Another quiet scenic road.

On entrance into the park, we had to sign in.  Check out the size of this insect on the door!!!!! yuck

We found a walking track that took us to some scenic spots... so decided to risk finding stairs and ride it.  It was awesome to be on single track again... and the Mirador (lookout) was worth the climb.

woo hoooo
Crab beach

Debbie herding the crabs!

 Supposedly one of Ecuadors most beautiful beaches.  We spend about 3 hours here swimming and relaxing.

Riding out of the park we spotted one of the Green barked trees.  They can photosynthesise through their bark when they have lost all their leaves due to the heat.

 Yum.  We knew we were in Ecuador when we bought a fresh pineapple from the back of an old truck on the beach.
We spent the night in a Ghost town - Puerto Cayo.  We are not sure where all of the people have gone but it was really deserted.  

We left Puerto Cayo at 6am - just on daylight and said goodbye to the coast.  We headed up into the hills again, dripping with sweat from the humidity and heat.  It was about 38 degrees!

 Gross -  we came across two dead snakes on the road today... and one very big Tarantulua (also squashed thank goodness)
 This huge snail joined us for morning tea!

 Water is Life... don´t contaminate it.   It is a pity the Ecuadorians don´t respect this.  There is rubbish all along the road.
We were impressed and very happy to find another cycle way from Jipijapa almost all the way to Puntoviejo.

 Tortillas Ecuadorian style for sale on side of the road.  We chose the yellow one - made from maize. It was warm and had cheese inside.  A bit salty and dry but pretty good to try.

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