December 28, 2011
After slowly crawling out of bed I started to get my things packed and ready to go. I realized that this is a weird system, I did not know how I was supposed to pay for the snacks I consumed. There was a message which looked like rules or instructions on the little door to the mysterious other side. I saw a phone number but it was useless for me to call because I did not speak Spanish. I decided to total the amount due and write it out like an itemized receipt on a piece of paper and then give it to the guy at the security booth when I left.
Then once my bicycle was ready I tried to open the garage door and realized it was locked from the outside. I am locked in the Hotel California! How does that song go? They did have champagne and mirrors on the ceiling.
The phone started ringing upstairs so I went up to answer it knowing I would not be able to communicate. All I was able to understand was "cinco minutos". I then realized one of the messages for the hotel was the stay was by a time limit, not by the day. They had a limit of 12 hour stay for the room, so if you check in at 5pm you have to be out by 5am. Although during the night I heard cars coming and going so I assume most folks did not even stay near the 12 hour limit. I looked at my watch and realized it had indeed been 12 hours total for me.
I tried to say I'm trying to leave, it did not work and eventually just hung up. I went to the little door in the door, opened my side then pushed the other little door open to the other side. I stuck my head in the box looking out into the mysterious other side. I yelled "hola", "hola" until finally a woman appear smiling at my head stuck in the box. I gave her my itemized receipt and money to show that I wanted to pay for what I consumed. She seemed to understand, walked away and a few minutes later came back with my change. I said I wanted to leave and she did not understand. I tried every way of saying it and there was nothing in my phrase book to help me either. I pointed downstairs and finally said "vamoose", I'm not even sure that was the right word or even if I spelled it right. She finally nodded yes and also pointed downstairs. I opened the door to go back into the garage, then her door opened and my door shut and locked behind me. She is now in my room and I am locked in the garage. If I had not stuck my head in the little box she would have never seen me and I would have never seen her. I assumed she was checking the inventory before allowing the garage to be opened, within a few minutes the garage was opened and I was free to leave.
I would assume that with this set up, a person could go in and never be seen by anyone. If the car had tinted windows then not even by the young man who opens the garage door. It is like a place for a secret rendezvous, and the most bizarre hotel experience I have ever had. I wanted to take photos of the outside and the rows of garage doors but I thought I better not.
Off into the big city, how I love the smell of diesel smoke in the morning! (sarcasm)
I am still tired and fatigued from the long day yesterday. My body wanted a day off but I wanted to keep going to get out of this big city. I know there are lots of great sites to see in Quito and a lot of old buildings with great architecture, but I do not want to go cycling around in a city I do not know and get lost on streets where many are not marked. I craved the small towns with friendly people, big cities are difficult to talk to people.
It was 6.5 miles before I came to the roundabout I was told about last night. There is no way I would have made it that far. I would have just collapsed somewhere along the way. The city was extremely difficult to navigate, I got lost not knowing where I was a couple of times. I stopped and asked many times to make sure I was headed in the right direction. I had to navigate a lot of traffic and through a cuople of tunnels.
At one point I saw a tire shop and asked to have my tires checked, well I didn't really ask, I just pointed to the hose and to my tires and he understood. I thought that maybe the pressure could be a little low contributing to the difficulty in cycling. The man grabbed the hose and walked over to my bicycle, he put some pressure in them without even checking. I tried to ask how much pressure but there was no way to ask. He did not check the pressure, he just tried to squeeze the tires with his hands.
It was 20 miles before I got out of the city and I was already tired. I thought it would be nice to just check into one of the hotels I kept passing, one day of cycling just to go across one city. I felt dizzy a lot, I was okay mostly while sitting on the bicycle but when I would stop and try to stand it would hit me. I had to take a lot of breaks to make sure I did not push myself too much. I decided if I kept taking breaks along the way, I could at least make it to Machachi.
I tried to combat the fatigue and dizziness with caffeine, chocolate and some of those herbal energy drinks. Still none of that worked, I did not even feel a caffeine buzz no matter how much coffee and coca-cola I consumed.
The main difference about cycling in these areas is that I am either going up or going down. Typically, most places there will be a lot of flat areas to cycle with some ups and downs. When I'm going downhill I am just sitting and maneuvering the bicycle downhill, no effort except mental focus. I can cover 10 miles in about 15 minutes downhill, going uphill it may take 3 hours to go 10 miles. So the only time I'm cycling is when I'm going uphill which makes this whole trip seem like it is uphill the whole way.
Soon after a bit of a climb out of Quito I hit a great downhill that was three lanes of traffic each way. I was able to easily pass cars and trucks that had to go slow in the curves and have my own lane ahead of the traffic. One thing about Ecuador is that they do have really good roads. After the downhill it was a gradual uphill slope going through a beautiful valley at about 10,000 feet and tall mountains on each side.
I made it to Machachi, turned off the Pan American Highway and cycled into the town. I rode in and asked someone about a hotel and he said "no hotel" and indicated I needed to go back to the highway. I could not believe there was not a hotel in the town, even the tiny little villages will have at least 3 hotels right in downtown and this is a good sized city. He seemed adamant about it and one thing I have noticed is that many times locals do not know what is in their own town, especially hotels. When I was in San Gabriel I remember asking where a hotel was and the person pointed down a street, I cycled many blocks and could not find it. I asked someone there and they pointed it was back the way I came, so I cycled all the way back and still could not find one. I asked again and again was directed back the other way, I went back again and asked a different person who also tried to send my back the other way. I was very frustrated but then someone pointed to a small place that looked a bit like a dive half a block away, so I went there. I will definitely take Spanish lessons before I return.
I rode back out of town to the highway a bit frustrated thinking that there is no hotel out here. After a couple of miles I did see one attached to a gas station, I was tired so I headed straight for it.
This was probably my most difficult hotel experience yet. The man did not even try to understand what I was saying and I pointed to phrases in my phrase book and he would just speak to me in very fast Spanish. I asked about wi-fi and he seemed to indicate yes but he could not say yes or no, or should I say "si" or "no", instead he would talk fast in long sentences I could not understand. I tried to talk in simple yes or no phrases but nothing seemed to work. The check in was difficult. a little while later I tried again, there was a strong wi-fi signal indicating there is wi-fi in this building. I walked down with my laptop and he did not have any understanding about computers or wi fi. He took me to the owners office next door who was on the phone and upon seeing us enter turned his chair around away from us. The man waited for about five minutes with me while the owner was on the phone and then indicated for me to have a seat and wait. He then walked out while I sat and waited. It was about twenty minutes before he got off the phone and just looked down at his desk not acknowledging me, I finally said "hello" and brought my laptop to him. I pulled up the available wireless networks to show him that I needed the password. He looked blankly at my computer and just said "no entiendo". I then wrote out translate.google.com so he can bring it up on his large desktop computer he had in front of him. He looked at it and again said "no entiendo". I pointed to his computer and to the web address I wrote down, he just looked at me like I was stupid and said "no ingles" and shook his head. He did not make any effort and I can't see how he could not understand what I was saying.
It was my hope to get on google translate so I could ask for help to arrange transport to the town Banos south and east from the Pan American Highway. It will take me about three days cycling to get there and my friend from Neiva will be there tomorrow while on vacation. We had been talking about possibly meeting there for a day and if I could get transport I could make it. If only I could speak the language. But if I could get online then I could have used google translate which works very well when communicating. It has been extremely useful on this trip so far.
This is where I'm at and there is a reason
for everything, there is a reason I am unable to arrange transport
now. There is a reason I will need to cycle to the next town tomorrow,
there is a reason I am unable to manage any conversation with the
people here, something awaits down the road and I will just wait and
see. Although as I type this I know this to be true, but when I am
in the middle of the episodes like today, I do get frustrated. I try
to maintain my own ideals for myself but there are contradictions
I live with. Intellectually it is easy to know some things, and mostly
in my heart I feel a certain way, but when some things in life are
thrown at me, my ego mind takes over from my heart and those emotions
I finally figured out there was an internet cafe in the town I just cycled out of, so I walked into town to find it. When I got there I was able to check my email but the page took 8 minutes to load. I then tried to check my visa account and after twenty minutes of waiting for pages to load I realized it was not meant to be at this time. They had a problem with their internet and it was not meant to be for me now. I paid for my time, which is ten cents for ten minute increments and then bought a chocolate bar.
When I left I decided to look for something to eat and found a small little restaurant with one of those picture menus on the wall, my kind of place. There were three sections, breakfast, lunch, and dinner and only three selections under each. The woman was very pleasant and found me very interesting since I was a foreigner and did not speak Spanish. She pointed to something on the menu for me as her recommendation and I said "si" with my thumb up. I sat down and was served a very delicious meal and once she was finished in the kitchen she sat at the table with me as we both had a cup of coffee. She did not know English and I do not know Spanish but with good intentions and my little phrase book we communicated pretty well. I think the difference is how hard someone wants to try. The two men earlier did not want to try, I am a foreigner who does not speak the language and they have no time for me. I have seen a lot of similar behavior towards Latinos in the US. Overall I would have to say that despite my experience here, I have seen more people wanting to engage me than not.
It was a pleasant dinner and a pleasant attempt at conversation, it was a good ending to the day and I was able to forget my frustrations at the hotel.
miles today: 35.14
total miles: 614.9
max speed today: 46mph
avg speed 7.7 mph
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