Welcome to Carnival

February 16, 2010

Well, it’s the last day of Carnival in Ecuador. It’s quite a raucus time, full of celebration and fiesta. One of the ways they celebrate is by throwing water at each other and spraying foam on everyone. Sounds like fun.

Whereas leaving Colombia was straightforward, Ecuador is not. There’s a drunk guy telling me where to go, but it’s not the right place. I finally find Migracion and get myself checked in, but I have to go to four buildings before I find the right one for the Aduana, which is where I need to get the bike paperwork done. The problem is that there are 20 people i n front of me all arguing about how much duty they have to pay on the oversized flat screen TVs they were trying to smuggle into the country after their weekend of partying. The aduana agents are frustrated and overburdened, the people are argumentative and resentful, and by golly *I* just want to squeeze through the cracks and get my paperwork and get outa there. I don’t feel so good.

After a while watching this scene, and having plenty of time to think, I realize I have not cashed out my Colombian pesos. Ecuador uses US Dollars, and so I go back over the bridge  to the Colombian side to change my money…and fall victim to the “crooked calculator” scam. The money changers all come running up, there’s a scene, things are excited and chaotic…I notice there’s a 3 on the guys calculator while he’s doing the math…I take his calculator, do the mathh myself (not in my head because I don’t feel good, and don’t bother to use my own calculator because i don’t feel like getting off  the bike…

Now there’s something like 1800 pesos to the Dollar…hard math to wrap your brain around when you have 168,800 pesos…it shoulda been about $92, but I got $68.  Oh well. It was too late two hours later when the math was tickling the back of my brain…

Anyway, I go back over the bridge again, and start getting insistent myself. I am not feeling well, and I tell them I have been waiting patiently but now I am reay for my paperwork to be done…and I stand there in the middle of the room waiting for someone to pay attendance to me…eventually someone does, and roughly 20 minutes later I am free to go.

I come across this lovely prehistoric scene.

And yes, even though I am not feeling too well, I *do* notice that the figures are anatomically correct under their concrete skirts…

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I ride for a while longer, but oofa. I am feeling “off”. And I start to figure out why when my mouth starts to water…uh oh…

better pull over…

I am unbuckling my helmet even as I brake with the right hand…

handily there is a truck pullover just ahead in this otherwise narrow and twisty section of the panamericana…

I pull over, kickstand down as the helmet comes off and…

yup.

Right next to my boot.

Must have been quite a sight for the truck river I stopped in front of! (more so less than3 minutes later when I rode off!)

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Now I’ve been pretty careful with what I eat  since my Mexico diarrhea…and today I ate in two restaurants. Should have been good to go. Did they use filtered water in my juice? Did I ask?

Unfortunately that’s IT for tamales and me since that was the last thing down and the first thing up…

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So I ride for a while longer, and in between barfs and aduana checks, carnival revelers are throwing water at me…and I am a sitting duck in these long lines…the customs agents have blocks in every town looking for those contraband TVs.

Now I am wet, ill, covered in foam, and feel like I am going to vomit again.

I guess I am not going to make it to Quito tonight. I get the first hotel I can find and thank my lucky stars the bathroom is clean. I use it off and on most of the night.

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