Zero Degrees

Leaving the charming little town of Otovalo took a little longer than expected. Our first attempt to leave began badly and it went down hill from there. I awoke feeling under the weather; tired, stomach problems, nothing serious but my health was not conducive to cycling in the hills. We took our time leaving and declared that we would have an easy day, take our time and have an early finish. Alas the ride out of town began with a climb. The road is fine and the climb is not steep, but after 15 kilometres and 500 metres of climbing the mild sickness I felt on leaving had manifested into total exhaustion. Had I had the energy to scream ‘enough’ that is what I would have done, but as things were I ground to a halt mumbling that I was about finished for the day. We returned to our splendid guest house and the Hobbits.

The lady of the guest house took good care of me. Coca tea laced with bicarbonate of soda was apparently just what I needed and therefore just what I got. I went to bed where I slumbered all afternoon stirred for tea then slept for 11 hours. Clearly there was something wrong. The following day we rested during which time Sebastian felt weak with flu like symptoms. On the third day we left.

We met a bird on the way, it was small, green, and beautiful and sitting in a very silly place on the edge of the road.

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We stopped to say hello and have a closer look. It was a hummingbird breathing heavily and although not an expert on humming birds I would say it had a look of distress about it. We wondered if,  like the swallow or swift it might be the sort of bird that becomes stuck once it lands on the ground. We decided that just in case that was not the case we should not simply throw it into the air, we would feel awful if we did that and the poor little chap plummeted back to earth. Sebastian took the situation in hand deciding that my shoulder would make a perfect launch pad. The bird sat there for a while huffing and puffing in my ear and just as we were about to move on in search of some nectar rich plants for him to dine upon, off he flew.

Following the bird’s lead we, too, moved on. We had a major land mark ahead. At two o’clock all eyes were on the

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GPS counting down the degrees, we were at the equator. As it turned out there was no need to watch the GPS as there was a line and a tall orange pole to mark the event. We stopped to do something, for we felt that in order to mark the occasion something should be done. We hopped from one side of the line to the other, we shook hands across the line and asked about the weather in the north and the south. We tipped some water from our bottles to see if there was anything different in the way it poured, there wasn’t. We looked up at the sun and were rather disappointed that it was not directly above. We decided that the equator was actually not an especially interesting place but took some photos and pressed on.

We spent the night in a simple town twenty kilometres from the centre of Quito. We cooked on the roof of the hostel during which time Sebastian developed a fever. It was a short lived fever, gone by morning, but clearly we had managed to pick something up along the way somewhere. That night we were visited by the police, seven of them in total declaring that they were “immigrations” and had to see our passports. Twenty kilometres away is a city notorious for it’s crime and the lack of interest the police have when a tourist is robbed, and here were seven officers outside our room with a trumped up reason to wake us up and stare at us. Odd, is it not?

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