MANY THANKS TO EOIN KEITH FOR SPONSORING ME FOR THE NEXT FEW DAYS!
EOIN RAN WITH ME A FEW TIMES ON THE IRISH 100KM AND 24 HOUR TEAMS IN CHAMPIONSHIP RACES DURING MY COMPETITIVE CAREER. HE CONTINUES TO PULL OUT SOME GREAT RESULTS ON THE TRAILS, TRACK AND ROAD AROUND THE WORLD. I SUSPECT HIS FIRST LOVE IS IN ADVENTURE RACING WHERE HE HAS POSTED SOME WORLD CLASS PERFORMANCES.
PRESS HERE TO VIEW JUST A FEW!
THANKING YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS GREAT AND WONDERFUL HELP EOIN. GOOD LUCK IN YOUR NEXT EVENT.
IF ANYONE WANTS TO SPONSOR A MEAL, HOTEL NIGHT OR WHATEVER PLEASE SEE PAYPAL LINK ON SIDEBAR. THANK YOU ALL FOR YOUR SUPPORT AND COMMENTS
My short two day break in Guayaquil with Richard and Lisa was great. I enjoyed their wonderful hospitality, having pancakes with syrup for breakfast two mornings in a row was fantastic as was a monster steak.
I also took a blood test. I need to keep an eye on things like iron levels and haemoglobin’s etc.
It was amazing for $25 a doctor calls to your house, takes the sample and you have the results emailed back that evening.
My iron levels are pretty much what they have been for the last couple of years, 58 which is on the low side of normal!
That’s why steaks are important to me. I am not happy with the food here, so also take iron supplements. Though pasta is available in shops you only get it in restaurants in the bigger towns or cities. The diet as far as I can see is pretty low carb, so I need to eat more starch breads etc. Usually one is served just a small piece of chicken, of which half is bone, so how much protein is there?
Back on the road I ran to Tambo and then stopped at a music store that sells cd´s I bought a few and then asked him to stick them on my mp3. Eventually He opened up his collection to me, too bad I had only 3.5 gb of space!
All this took over 3 hours but it was worth it, good sounds for the road.
So that lazy 19km day was followed by a 54km to my finish location at an apartment block on the east side of Cuenca. That’s handy, I have the city cleared now, so after getting the security man to write down the exact location I finished at I took a taxi back to the hotel I commuted from this morning. I had commuted back to km 32.
Next morning I am in my hotel having breakfast. Its a small restaurant with just 4 tables. Everyone comes in at 7am.
So I eat my breakfast and drink my coffee. The following is what Richard means when he says Ecuadorians can´t multi-task and the service is bad. I see it all the time.
Two boiled eggs are served in a bowl after breakfast instead of with the meal, I guess it´s a sort of desert! Two tables are full and they are nearly finished eating. I come in next and am taking up a whole table. Four Ecuadorians come in after me and are served their eggs first. So what´s the rationale? Is it because it´s four people and not one?
I would have thought that in a busy restaurant you get rid of the single person who is taking up a whole table?
So the waiter comes over to me and tells me it will be ten more minutes before my eggs are boiled!
My questions are.. Why don´t they prepare before the restaurant opens? And more importantly why don´t they boil 20 or 30 or even 40 eggs together!
If I ask for something like salt they can´t bring it out of the kitchen along with someones plate or coffee, I got to wait a few minutes till they get all caught up!
More than 50 percent of what I eat and drink I have to hand back to be reheated. Yet I have never seen an Ecuadorian return something cold. Richard tells me they are so used to poor service that if it was good they would feel uncomfortable!
Many times I have noticed when I ask them to serve coffee or soup hot they just boil up a 10 litre saucepan and after about 10 minutes, they assume it´s hot, which it rarely is, so I got to hand it back again. I don´t know why they don´t take a portion out and reheat it in a smaller saucepan or a microwave. Richard says it´s cultural, not a lack of intelligence, just the way things are done.
He also told me about a time he bought a television set. It took 9 people to process it between the payment, stamping the receipt, checking to see all parts are present and so on. It seems people can´t be trusted.
In Wall Marts, back when I lived in Colorado I remember dumping a television into a trolley, wheeling it up to the checkout, flashed my credit card, which wasn’t even checked for a signature and was out the door in a few minutes!
That morning I show my directions of my finishing location to several taxi drivers at the bus terminal, they don´t know where the apartment block is. So they hand me over to ´the most experienced taxi driver in Cuenca ´
He hesitates till I tell him that once up on the highway I will know where. So off we go, he can´t find it and after going thru the maze of streets in Cuenca I am confused. Eventually I jump out, I remember the security guard saying the next suburb is Baños. I go into an internet cafe look at a Google map and realised he has overshot my finishing spot and entered the highway at a different spot.
So I jump on a bus, and when it turns left I jump off and walk for ages till I see the apartment block. Morning all gone! I only get 25km that day. Just before Cumae there is an hotel but they want $20, sorry not within the budget. People have told me that Ecuador is cheaper than Colombia, not for accommodation. I don´t mind paying more for Colombian food, it is tasty and here they don´t use spices on meats.
A couple of minutes down the road I come to a building site. It looks like they are building a large luxury resort. I go through the open gate and wander up to a house which the security guard obviously lives on.
I hand him one of my cards. he is a nice sort, his name is Jose and tells me I can sleep in the half constructed building. So in I go and pull a sheet of plaster board off a pile so as I don´t have to sleep on the cold concrete floor. It´s only 8pm but I could do with an early night.
Just after 6am two other security guards come in. They have pump action shotguns. I hand them cards also. They ask the usual simple questions but wait about 15 minutes for me to pack and leave. They are friendly but escort me off the site, they are probably thinking about the bossman.
St. Patrick’s Day is a tough day, mostly up steep hills, I finish early after 24km, it would be nice to get a steak in perhaps Oña.
I commute there having got the impression it´s a sizable place, it´s not. First I had to walk up a steep 1km climb to the centre. I expect a big day tomorrow as it will be mostly downhill. I will not fancy walking up here after a 50km plus day!
In the town plaza there is a pension. On the outside it looks battered. Going up the stairs I wonder as I can see grease all over the walls and ceiling, I don´t know about this place, probably a flee Heaven! Then $5 confirms it, I am off back down the hill. I was told there was another place that is better. It´s supposed to be near the foot of the hill, so handy for tomorrow. There was no sign but I eventually find it.
Not much of a place but at $10 cheap for Ecuador. I decide to stay 3 nights and commute. There seems to be a key problem getting in and out with the owner Antonio. He always seems to be fixing himself in the mirror and slipping out, I think he has a fancy bit up the hill. I tell him to hide the key to the gate outside and he does.
There is a small house down the road where three old ladies wait for the odd customer to arrive. I go there for dinner, not much for St. Patrick’s Day, don´t ask you know whats on the menu!
One of the old ladies looks like she is getting ready to die. She is just sitting on a bench over by a wall and looking into deep space.
I am told there is an area near here called Vilcabamba which noted for it´s longevity, people live till a grand old age, I was told it´s something to do with bathing in the river.
I read somewhere that they can´t figure it out as some people work hard others not, some drink alcohol and have unhealthy diets (!) others good diets (here?) The traveller came to the conclusion that it was just a publicity scam. Unfortunately it is south of Loja and I will be running west on my way to Peru.
Vilcabamba is a Kichwa word that means Sacred Valley. In the language of the Incas, it is composed of two words: Huilco meaning “sacred” or “God” and Bamba meaning “valley”; hence, “Valley of God” or “Sacred Valley”.
Luis Fernando de la Vega first established Vilcabamba as a town on September 1st, 1756.
MORE INFO > HERE
If you are really interested in growing very old please read this amazing study > HERE
AND IF YOU ARE SURE YOU WANT TO GROW OLD IN ECUADOR WITH RICHARD AND LISA MORE INFO > HERE
The old ladies seem to be proud of the hotel I am staying in and keep telling me it´s great isn’t it? Really it´s ramshackle hovel, but it functions and suits me now.
I am starting to see the odd altitude sign now. I am operating between 2,500 and almost 3,100 metres, That actually surprised me, even though it´s not too high.
Then the lovely day, 55km of which about 45 was mostly downhill with just three easy short climbs But then it was a 7km tough climb before it eased off into Oña. A great day.
On the way I stopped at a place called Fonda Paredor, a very nice western style restaurant in La Paz. I had spotted it while commuting past in the bus and decided to run by all the pig bar-b-q´s of sorts… Well they had the pigs up on stands and were cooking them head, feet, tails and all with a blow torch. There were about twenty of these going on along the side of road as I ran through that small town.
Please someone tell me, Is this a healthy way to cook a pig?
I went inside the Fonda which was a pleasant surprise. Country and western music pumped out of the speakers, and a cowboy store at the back, boots, saddles hats and all, great decor.
The friendly owner was at a table checking out his Facebook page. His name is Diego. He pulled up this blogpage and was very disappointed to see my Spot tracker was not flashing on the map outside his place.
Diego told me he only has the best of meats and certainly wouldn’t cook a pig with a blow torch!
He brought me into the kitchen, everything was new and clean as was the rest of the place, spotless. He told me his meat is also the freshest, enough meat for only 40 customers a day and then the restaurant closes.
I had a delicious bowl of potato soup and a pork roast steak with French fries, rice, salad, veg, juice and coffee. While I was there he took a photo and posted it on his Facebook page. His daughter in Florida responded wanting to know who the stranger was!
This time not like the place last week, Diego kindly gave me the delicious meal compliments of Fonda Paredor.
A really nice man and I told him that this was my belated St. Patrick’s Day meal.
The next few days to Loja were pretty uneventful and tough, except for a run through a nice town called San Lucas which I have already reported on. I am definitely running very tired and need a couple of days rest in Loja and a couple more steak dinners, no more chicken for a couple of days!
The run out of Loja towards Macara and the Peruvian border took almost a week. The roads were bad, so bad in places it was just too hard to run safely. They were broken up from mud and rock slides due to the recent heavy rains. I have been luck in so far as I have only been caught out a couple of times.
On one occasion when it was raining heavily and late in the day I became very concerned when seven bus drivers failed to stop for me. Eventually one kind-hearted driver did. This is the bit that kills me here with all the devoted Catholicism here is that when they get a chance to help someone out in difficulty, they would rather think of their seats not getting damp! They don’t seem to care that someone could be stuck out all night in the rain and cold, perhaps get robbed, murdered or raped! I often wonder if there is a law against failure to stop.
Richard also says that the traffic police are given a job to do, to check for speeding and licences. They don’t bother enforcing some of the other stuff like lights not working, careless driving etc.
They only investigate ‘ serious crimes ‘
That’s why there are so many crazies (other than yours truly!) on the road. Thats why they drive over the unbroken yellow no cross line at high speed even coming up to dangerous bends and even as I saw a couple of times this week, even in dense fog!
They were driving so recklessly that I wondered if there was a two for one chicken dinner discount 100km away in Macara. Driving like locos all the way to some Happy Chicken place!
Though I don’t excuse them, I reckon if bus and truck drivers didn’t drive like lunatics they probably wouldn’t have a job. However, I often wonder about the regular car drivers and think what it would be like to drive in their car with them. After all the crazy speedway stuff, just to see what exactly do they do when they get to their destination? Turn on the Simpsons en Espanol! Trade Happiest Chicken In Town vouchers? Or more than likely, it’s just cultural, habitual, they probably just stand around and talk when they arrive.
Going baack to what I was talking about earlier I can well believe it as I have been in dozens of police stations and really have to say it’s true over all of my Latin American route… Many police just sit around talking, watching television and as I found out in El Salvador in a dodgy place called San Jorge that they were more interested in their soon to be cooked pot of stew than taking a threat to me seriously. HERE
Back here some of the road was covered by rock slides. I saw some small rocks slide down onto the road ahead of me. Every time I looked up it was scary to see some of the massive boulders. Perhaps I should run on the opposite side, even if the traffic is at my back. The road is quiet, so perhaps that would be a good idea.
I get talking to construction worker Lucio. He tells me it will probably take him a week to shovel and wheel barrow this pile away. Trouble is there is not enough heavy equipment around. They have to clear the most urgent places first.
A loader and a dump truck would clear this lot in just a couple of hours. With a wink he tells me…
” Hey Tony it’s work and there is not much work around here. ”
Another day I had been thinking to myself that I had not seen many cyclists or runners in Ecuador and what happens to defy me. I was running towards the town of Catacocha after a 31km mostly downhill day. I saw a rare cyclist and then two runners ran past me. I handed them some of my worldjog business cards, we talked for a while. Three ferocious dogs came out, the lads started firing rocks at the dogs and nearly hitting me on the head with one.
Then another man runs by, followed by two women! Just as I got into the town and was about five minutes away from the plaza, the Heavens opened up. Within about ten minutes the whole town was flooded due to a poor drainage system and serious pot holes. There was no sign of it letting up, I got drenched just trying to get from one side of the plaza to the other to shelter in an internet cafe. I wanted to take some photos but the risk of getting my camera wet as happened a couple of times in central America was too great.
So eventually the rain stopped and I stopped dripping water down on the computer keyboard!
This is a problem I am faced with in these situations and remember I don’t carry many clothes, just a bare change! Do I find a hotel before eating and then come back out and perhaps getting my change soaked too. Or do I just go eat in my wet clothes and when I get to the hotel, I shower and don’t have to go out again. This is the option I almost always take.
The first hotel wanted $25! I have only paid 26 dollars once and that was when pissed off in Flagstaff,Az. after having my ipod stolen. This is Latin America so I don’t think $25 for a mom and pop place, even if very nice is justified. Luckily there was a place for $9 which had 3 beds in the room, really big and spacious. Just as well as I would have had to pay the $25, I need to face it that sometimes I will get stuffed.
On and on I ran, very little to report each day very similar and very tough.
Sometimes I am so tired that even the steep downhills are tiring and I got to stop to rest.
I eventually reach Macara and run up to the border, right up to a place called Puente Internacional. There are some nice soldiers there that take my picture. I tell them Iwill return tomorrow and continue from the exact same spot and into Peru.
It’s 2km back to my hotel in Macara, I hitch a ride as there are no buses or taxis. I don’t feel like running or even walking when the distance doesn’t count.
Tomorrow Peru, at long last, I got a date there, a twenty-nine year dream to live.
Finally! Guess who was spotted in the audience of The Late Late Show in Dublin tonight Friday 30th? The Late Late Show is the worlds longest television chat show, airing for over 50 years now.