We left Ibarra, Ecuador and headed toward the country's capital of Quito, knowing that we would have a few days to explore the city before our Horizon's Unlimited meeting was to take place. This HU event would be a group of fellow motorcycle travelers meeting up just outside of Quito for three days, and we had been preparing two speeches to give at the conference (we were extremely excited). What we didn't know was that Tim was harboring some nasty tropical disease within him, and this sickness was going to change everything.
Once arriving in Quito, we found it's pretty nice for a big capital city. Sitting almost exactly at the equator and at 9,000 ft. above sea level (3,000 meters), it has a pleasant year-round climate with warm days and cool nights, and is surrounded by green mountains. But what I liked best about Quito was its historic center, a massive Spanish colonial construction that is a UNESCO Heritage Site and the largest colonial city in South America.
We booked a gorgeous place right in the old city with parking for the bike, but it didn't take long before Tim came down with a fever. And this was no ordinary fever. He started mumbling incoherently and saying he felt like he was in a giant's body, and had a lot of pain, especially in his back, stomach, and a killer headache to top it all off.
The next day (my birthday by chance), I knew we had to see a doctor. We had a feeling that this could be Dengue Fever, which is a virus caused by a mosquito bite and takes about a week to a month to incubate in the body before the notoriously horrific fever starts. We had been bit by more than a few mosquitoes in Colombia, and figured there was a good chance it could be Dengue. If it was, there's no official treatment for it, and the fever usually passes on its own in a few days to a couple weeks. Unfortunately, the symptoms were also similar to Malaria, a much more serious mosquito-born tropical disease, so we wanted to know for sure.
A simple blood test at the doctor's gave us results the next morning, and thankfully, it was not Malaria. But it was too soon to test for Dengue, so we're still not sure what it was exactly: either Dengue Fever or a tropical gastro-intestinal parasite. After two days of fever, Tim remained sick (mostly with intestinal issues), and the day we were to leave for the HU conference crept up on us, until suddenly we realized that we may not be able to make it.
We agreed that if Tim had a fever or felt dizzy at all, we weren't going to get on the bike. The event was taking place on a farm only 45 minutes away, but still, it just was too much of a risk for us to take. It doesn't do any good to go to a motorcycle conference if we crash our bike along the way.
But luckily, Tim was feeling well enough to go, and he hadn't taken any strong medicine since the night before. So we headed out of Quito and miraculously arrived at the event all in one piece.
We had two speeches planned, and one was supposed to take place that night. But Tim had already used all his wellness energy getting us there, and was not feeling up to giving a speech. So we canceled it, which was alright, since we had another one to give the next day.
I have to graciously thank Raúl, owner of the Hotel Sierra Alisos and coordinator of the event, for being so generous with us and offering us a hotel room while Tim was feeling sick so that we didn't have to camp in the cold. I think that the wood stove in the room really did the trick, and the next day Tim felt great, we made our speech, and everything went wonderfully.
The morning of the speech there was an option to go on a motorcycle tour of the mountains, or see a local parade at the town of Machachi. Since Tim wasn't feeling 100%, we opted for the parade, which turned out to be very interesting, but extremely crowded, and Tim's phone got stolen right out of his pocket, along with our friend David's phone.
This was the first time on our journey that we had been robbed, but it wasn't the end of the world for us because it was an old phone, and we immediately shut it down and bought Tim a new one (which he likes very much). Good thing it wasn't his wallet! And we've definitely learned a lesson in keeping our possessions more secure while walking into crowds.
So despite the setback of Dengue and pickpockets, the Horizon's Unlimited event was a huge success. We met plenty of fellow motorcycle travelers from all over the world, and have made lots of friends. Now that we're back in Quito, we've been getting to know the amazing American/French duo of Court and Sylvain at Ecuador Freedom Bike Rental, and are now planning our next adventures into Ecuador. Hopefully we'll be traversing some of it with our new friends.
Next up: seeing the actual equator, and maybe the cloud forests of Mindo. Then we'll head into the mountains, possibly camp along a volcano crater, and go to the Amazon rainforest. Stay tuned, and we'll keep you posted.
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