So the Galapagos…… Just as a bit of a background, it is pretty difficult to go to the islands independently and see the vast variation of animal and fauna life by just turning up and taking day trips. So it means one has to sign up for a tour on a boat. There are probably about 100 different boats, all offering different lengths of tour and varying comfort. Carlos had put me onto his travel agent and they got a last-minute deal for me on a ship called the Santa Cruz.
|The Santa Cruz, with landing parties|
|This shot required no zoom. All the animals here treat humans as if they were just another animal. The only risk of predators is from sharks and hawks, and if you don't look like one of them, you are basically ignored.|
Back in London, Galapagos was a weekly word used, as it is the name of one of my favourite restaurants in Battersea, and Steve, the co-proprietor, is Ecuadorian. Whilst the delicious food may not be from the region, the warmth and friendliness of the experience certainly is.
|This is Vicky, our lovely and brilliant guide.|
|A hammerhead shark|
|The guys...alas not many people photos, just 300 beastie ones.|
|Lisa joining an Iguana for a lie on the sand|
Back in Quito, Batty had new forks (from a Yamaha), a new additional front light and lots of other needed bits serviced. It took a couple days more, but Carlos did a fine job finding parts from other vehicles to replace worn original parts, so Batty was fit for the next 10,000 miles that I probably have left.
|Carlos on the right, with his Dad and colleague having just finished all their work on Batty|
|Julia and Chris|
|Chimborazo in the background|
|Banos...beautiful spa town, where I bumped into Jesper in the red tee shirt...a voyager from Panama|
|I love having my hair cut in new countries|
By this stage I was beginning to get itchy feet, and the need to head on South was pressing. But before Peru I had had an invitation to stay with Dr Carlos's mother in Cuenca. Normally it is a five-hour ride, but if you take the mountain route it takes two days. I haven't particularly planned which way to go, but the GPS's plan was one of mountains and rough roads. Although this made me a day late, I did see some beautiful Ecuador, and my first roasted guinea pig.
|2 days of fun on these sorts of roads...reaching 9000ft|
|Batty's sporting her smart new day light|
|Forget the 'what a sweet thing' nonsense...this chap is for the chop|
|A national delicacy|
Dr Carlos was visiting his mother that weekend and I was welcomed most sincerely by Bina, his mother, and by Susannah and Gustavo, his sister and brother-in-law. They all live in a beautiful apartment building that they designed and built a few years ago which takes up the whole side of a piazza right beside the river. Everyone has their own apartment, and I was given a bedroom in one which acts as an office for their architectural practice.
|Lovely Bina at her easel, she was a friend and pupil of Oswaldo Guayasamìn. This lady was the finest of hostesses, treating me to culinary delights and just all round warmth.|
|Carlos treated me to my first Guinea Pig (known as Cui here) dinner. Very delicious|
|Estefan and Sebastian|
Here is a link to a small piece in Amateur magazine
|In mid interview Estefan, Sebastian and German...broadcasting straight from the iPhone to the airwaves. This website had a spike of traffic that day, so I hope it sells a few bikes for them|
The next day Batty was quickly back together and the plan was to ride with Sebastian and Estefan towards the Peruvian border. However we were joined by three others, and six Royal Enfield's headed off. Batty was at last speaking her own language, having had to put up with Japanese and German companions since Australia and before that India.
Crossing over the border to Peru was pretty straightforward, and I met Ben there who was on a bike heading the same way. We plan to meet for a drink at lunchtime in a town called Mancora, about 100 miles down the coast. Ben had to be in Cusco for his birthday on Friday, which meant about 2000 km in two days. One drink led to another and four hours later he set off. I found a hotel. I'm looking forward to hearing the rest of his tale if I catch up with him.