This blog post is something new that we're trying out as we start combining our updates with shorter posts every week or so. We will also be doing our much larger country profile blogs with videos, and those will be named after the country without a date in the title. So I hope you enjoy the first of our mini-blog/updates.
Yesterday we crossed from Colombia into Ecuador. It was hard saying goodbye to Colombia, a country that we have grown to love over the past two and a half months. The colorful villages, the green mountains, the welcoming smiles, the typical platter of rice, fried plantains, and meat that we've come to enjoy called bandeja, oh and the free motorcycle lane to skip right through tolls... we will certainly miss Colombia.
But we must head on, especially since we will be presenting at the Horizon's Unlimited event in Quito, Ecuador on July 20-22, which we are very excited for.
But before leaving Colombia, we knew we had to visit coffee country, and what better place to stay than the Steel Horse Finca, a motorcycle adventurer's paradise run by a British couple who did their own motorcycle tour of South America a few years back. They have since purchased land right outside of the colonial town of Filandia, and now have a cozy and welcoming guesthouse, along with chickens, horses, and a pig.
Unfortunately, we had a hard time finding the farm since our Google maps let us down. Plus, the roads we kept turning down were rutted and muddy, and then it started to rain, and by rain I mean pour. We had just decided to give up and pulled under the roof of a gas station when fate stepped in and out of the bucketing rain came another adventure rider on a huge BMW. He immediately pulled up beside us, and it turned out that this fellow traveler, a man from France named Victor, was just leaving the Steel Horse farm. We were absolutely overjoyed, not just to meet another motorcycle traveler, but also that he could point us in the right direction.
The farm turned out to be quite close, and we were soon sipping tea and coffee while chatting with the Steel Horse owners, Paul and Yvette. They also had a Workaway couple staying there, Suzanne and Jaimie who were Dutch, and all six of us spent our evenings talking over incredible home-cooked dinners. We had a bonfire, a barbecue, a horse ride, and we even played Tejo, a Colombian version of Bags where instead of throwing a bean bag into a hole, you throw a lead puck against packets of gunpowder, which give the game an exciting explosion every time you get a point. I'm not sure this game would be legal in the States, but it was certainly fun.
The original plan was to stay a day, but it was so nice at the farm, we ended up being there for four days. But since we had a deadline to meet in Quito, we had to say our goodbyes to the Steel Horse Finca, and made our way as quickly as we could to the border with Ecuador.
Tim and I had heard that the Colombia/Ecuador border had become tediously difficult to cross in recent months due to the massive influx of Venezuelan refugees trying to find a home in Ecuador or beyond. But these warnings could not prepare us for the lines of men, women, and children sleeping on the side of the road, the sight of which just broke my heart.
On both the Colombian side and the Ecuadorian side, we got to go through customs via the faster “foreigner" line, while the Venezuelans were kept to the side. The more I cross borders, the more I feel that there is an internationally accepted discrimination that is the rule of law when it comes to visas, and it all depends on what passport you hold. As Americans, we flash our passports and we can get ahead in many lines (though we did end up waiting in lines for hours at this border anyway). But it really all depends on which passport you carry, and how much money you are perceived to possess. It just seems ironic that we all agree that apartheid was bad, or racism is bad. But judging someone based on the words at the front of their passport is entirely accepted. In fact, it's how the world runs.
Well, now that the border is behind us, we have the beautiful country of Ecuador to look ahead to. Yesterday it was an incredible drive through stark mountainous landscapes to get to the Spanish colonial city of Ibarra, Ecuador. This town seems to be a great introduction to the country as it has plenty of beautiful old churches with tree-lined plazas. Though there is a bit of a run-down feel to everything here, you can really get a sense of the history of this place as well.
Tomorrow we'll be headed to Ecuador's capital, Quito, and we're excited to for the HU event to get started. Stay tuned for our next update (and to see how our speeches went).
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