After our ‘earth shattering’ day in Colombia we sought devine intervention near the Ecuadorian border at the ‘Sanctuary of Our Lady of Las Lajas’, an amazing church built across a river which has been fully restored to it’s 1802 heritage. Our visit was badly timed on a Sunday and the place was hopping with pilgrims and touristas alike, all after some of the ‘holy water’ flowing beneath it’s arches. Unfortunately there was not enough water in that river to cleanse Geoff of any past tribulations and it ran off him like he was teflon coated… nice try though !
At the border post we stamped out of Colombia very easily, exchanged all our COP currency for US Dollars with the money sharks and their rigged calculators (not taking me for a swan mate). A short ride across the bridge and the fun part started in Ecuador, again I had some visa issues, probably due to the earlier stuff up when at the our first Ecuadorian crossing when they did not ‘computerise’ me. The customs paperwork was slow and for once we had to buy Third Party Insurance at $8 for 90 days… what a bargain and surprisingly, underwritten by QBE in Australia (go figure ?).
We had picked up another ‘hitchiker’ at the border and what was beginning to look like a foursome ride, both Clive our Canadian rider and the new Brazilian guy decided to turn south when we mentioned the dirt ride west to the coast we were planning on taking. A spot of rain and then the scenery changed back to tropical jungle which surprised us this far west, a long way from our earlier eastern escapes. An Army checkpoint insisted on Passport inspection, but everyone was nice as by now we were accustomed to all the boys with big ‘guns’.
Our coastal destination came up pretty quick, the humidity was killing us and the town of San Lorenzo was pumping as we soon discovered it was the Carnivale four day ‘weekend’. Eventually we found a hotel with parking and AIR CONDITIONING (which was $5 extra), a couple of cold beers then back into town to check out the party down by the harbour. Surprisingly as the only two white ‘gringos’ in town who stick out like.. you know what, no one was really bothered by our presence and we felt right at home amongst the celebrations. Funnily though while hanging out with all the crowd at the entertainment stage, we were ‘shadowed’ by six guys in riot gear, two with shotguns, two with M16’s and two with sub machine guns ? Unsure if that was for our safety or for the locals !!!!
That night the ‘hot’ water hosed away the sweat from our now very wet bodies, thanks to the water canons, buckets of water and dreadful humidity and we thanked the ‘AIR CONDITIONING GODS’ for a decent nights sleep ! Next day another weird breakfast, then we lined up for gasoline and headed off south along the coastline in search of some nice quiet beachfront location…. NOT !