Note to myself: remember to wake up very early in those places at low altitude.
I had forgotten that, and it made my day a little hell. Nice and funny and full of random facts, but very hard.
The uphill before Zumba is VERY hard. Try doing it very early in the morning or last thing of the day. You don’t even have a downhill to arrive to Zumba, so expect lots of sweat when you get there. 🙂
Zumba is just ok. Nothing special. Looks like there’s a disco; some hotels and a bus station (and the militar place) form the sole attraction. Militars in the area still like to remember their last war against Perú (which almost didn’t start, but anyway).
From Zumba onwards is just and unending up and down through unpaved roads. Road conditions are pretty good and, even when there are some small towns around the area, don’t expect a find to eat or sleep. It’s a good camping area.
Sometimes, when there’s no restaurant, local women offer their food. This was supposed to be the case, but after I waited for an hour with a local guy (who updated me with all the issues with coffee), nobody showed up. So I kept going under a hard sun.
Worst uphills and downhills are the very last ones before you leave the country. They are REALLY bad, so be careful! Not very long though.
I had my worst experience in Ecuador here. There’s a police check some 5 kms before the border. Almost last uphill. They asked for my papers for the first time in the country; the usual 2 youngsters didn’t want to, they were going to let me just go by, and the older official stopped me. He was still young. He showed me his gun. Conversation went like this:
-Careful from now on -he said, quite defiantly
-You mean it’s not safe? -and I tried to sound as innocent as possible.
-No, careful with what YOU do. Don’t do stupid things.
-No worries, I just cycle from place to place and visit, not much more.
-So you visit our country and fuck our women? -he was obviously looking for “something”.
-No no, I don’t do that…
-So you are “maricón” -that’s a despective for gay.
-No no!! I just don’t want to mess around… -I didn’t really know what to say, honestly. He was still pretty… Defiant.
-You mean if we go to your country and look for a girl we’re not welcomed?!? -that was too much… but you don’t argue with a guy holding a gun.
I manage to speak about the big ammount of Ecuatorian people in Spain, and eventually he let me go. But you could see in his face he wasn’t happy about it. I don’t know what was his problem. Boredom, probably…
The Ecuatorian side of La Balsa or La Balza is not very nice, but the Peruan side is. And the river (where they seek gold illegally… but that’s another story) is perfect for a swim!!! I ended up camping there, and some more adventures… that continued next day.