July 23rd 2015
Quito – Pifo – Quito
Start 8am and finish 10.30am
Distance – 24kms
We were all looking forward to leaving this morning and getting back on the road. Chris the cyclist we met at the border and arrived in Quito with decided to join us heading east so once again in a group of 4 we set off out of town the way we had come in. It was kind of sad to leave Casa de Cyclista as Santiago was so helpful and friendly and gave great advice on all things bike and trip related. His place was really quiet so it was nice to sleep in a tent and not get woken by roosters or traffic noise in the mornings or be kept awake by barking dogs all night.
After signing his guest book and getting last minute advice on routes out of town we headed off.
The ride back out to Pifo was all uphill which was tiring in sections depending on the grade but for the most part we made good time. The weather couldn’t decide what it wanted to do so we stopped repeatedly to put our jackets on when it started to rain only to stop several hundred meters up the road because it had stopped and we were now sweating from riding up hill in our rain jackets for no reason. Of course several hundred meters later it started raining again and we had to stop again which was bizarre as when it wasn’t raining the sun was out which made you think it was just a passing shower.
After following the directions to Baeza we finally came to a round about with trucks banked up down the road and 2 exits blocked off by Police. When we tried to go through one road block we were stopped and told there was landslide so we couldn’t go further. We tried lying by telling the police we only wanted to go to a town this side of the slides but they wouldn’t budge and told us it would take at least 3 days to clear. While having this conversation and while riding in that direction we were passed by a lot of Bomeros and Ambulance and more Police so unsure if it was a serious as they were making out or if it was just something to get rid of us.
By now we had gathered a crowd and since we couldn’t do anything while standing in the middle of the road with a map and the Police and every other local we decided to try find somewhere to sit for a coffee. The only place close was a dodgy looking run down shack that had no one in it or near it despite traffic backed up for miles which should give you some indication of the condition of this establishment. The others ordered coffee and as they had no milk drank it black and we discussed options. No matter which way we looked at it we were not going far today so decided to head back to Santiago’s and wait there.
He kindly let us set up camp in his yard again and we later found out that numerous people died and buses were knocked off the road etc in the landslide and that there was actually 3 slides to clear not just one. Knowing there was no way we were going to get through via that road we decided to go south to Banos and cut over that way. It would take longer but it was better than sitting around Quito doing sweet f.a so after a feed and a chat with the other cyclists staying in the Casa it was time to get psyched for another day on the bike tomorrow.