3/30/2007 - QUITO, EQUADOR

every now and then, i get a little worried about where we will end up having to stay for the night. most of the little villages are too small to offer accommodation, and some of the big cities are a little too crazy for our liking. we even had a group of police escort us through one town, they lead us to about four different hotels. the only problem was, one of the policia kept blabbing to the hotel keepers about the dog, unaware that there is a more tactful method about easing the hotel into the whole dog situation. it was a nice surprise to meet some friendly, helpful police for once, the corrupt ones keep things interesting, but we have enough to keep us busy. we ended up having to part ways from our police buddies, we'd been rejected from every hotel in town, so it was on to the next town. camping is out of the question, not even the locals do it, so neither do we. i never know how, but at the end of every day, it always seems to work out.

there was a story we read about a motorcycle enthusiast / world traveler who made it possible to ship a vehicle into ecuador without a carnet de passage, which is a very expensive little piece of paper. we found that the story was true, as that we showed up to the port in ecuador without the carnet, and figured these things will eventually work themselves out. brian e-mailed the guy who made it all possible, and thanked him for his efforts. about a day later, he e-mailed us back. his name was ricardo rocco, and if we were heading toward quito, we'd have a place to stay. that was great news, because we found ourselves with a few extra days before the rally, which, by the way, we'll be the official sweep vehicle for. we made our way to quito, via the winding little donkey roads that you see in national geographic magazines and what-not. when we arrived, we learned that ricardo was going to be out of town for the rest of the week, but here's his keys to everything, just make yourselves at home. the longer we stay in his home, the more we want to meet him... his garage is filled with some of the most amazing motorcycles available to anyone. his bookshelves are filled with photo albums of his expeditions around the world. his dvd collection is made up of all the best bill murray movies ever. and if that wasn't enough, there's a picture of juha kankunnen hanging over the toilet in the master bathroom. for those of you who have yet to be graced with the knowledge of who juha kankunnen is, just know that he is better than everyone else, which is why his picture hangs proudly above ecuadorian toilets.

neither of us expected quito to be as big and as modern as it is. millions of casas overflowing the valley surrounded by more active volanoes, airplanes barely scrape over the buildings to land. more cars means more bad drivers, and the pollution so thick you can taste it. quito is as beautiful as it is ugly, and today we witnessed both versions. the five mile drive to the historic spanish colonial center took about an hour. either we just missed a protest, or they were setting up for one, the policia were out in force, plastic shields, riot gear, the works. the residents, comprised of the funny hat and cape wearing people, as well as the more modern types, were brandishing sticks and flags. they were being herded through the streets by the police. it was good that they were all so preoccupied with their protest because we were able to move freely, attracting very little attention. the historic city was pretty and all, but we've seen more spanish colonial cities than ecuadorian rioters could ever shake a stick at. there's a beautiful statue at the top of the hill above the historic sector, but it's surrounded by half wild dogs that nip at your heels. gu
ss that all goes along with the territory that doesn't belong to you. the people here are as nice as they can be, which makes me wonder why everything is fenced, gated, alarmed, and armed. likely, if there's any crime, the country next door is probably responsible, or that's what the locals will say. everywhere we go, the people are afraid of the country beside them... the mexicans and belizeans were afraid of the guatemalans, the guatemalans really didn't care too much at all for the hondurans, and the hondurans said they were surrounded by maniacs on both sides. panama is afraid of ecuador, and ecuador is afraid of panama, colombia, and chile. since everyone has so far been wrong about each other, and the only ones they're not afraid of are the peruvians, should we do the opposite and be afraid of peru? who knows, seems like every country we've been to is insane in it's own regional way, and it's been fun to take part in.

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