So we left Mocoa and took the 4 hour drive to the border, exiting Colombia from San Miguel and heading to Lago Agrio in Ecuador. We wanted to get on the road really early, but that unfortunately didn’t happen. We got to the border a little after noon which meant that everyone was on a two hour lunch break. We had about an hour and thirty minutes to wait and the fact that it was a miserable 100 degrees inside and outside of the building didn’t help. We waited in the shade and got in line around 1:30. It didn’t take too long once everyone got back from break. We got our exit stamp from Colombia, filled out paperwork and got our entrance stamp for Ecuador, then went to customs to claim El Chigüiro. I think it was a little complicated for the customs agent because I am an American citizen with a Canadian van that is owned by a German who has given me permission to use the vehicle. It took a little while to explain ourselves, but eventually we got the ok and continued on our way.
Ecuador was really beautiful with lots of green mountains and mist. The first night we stayed off the road near a river and a waterfall. The next morning we drove to Quito and were able to enjoy some amazing scenery. We found out it was a week long holiday while we were there so everything seemed really calm and quiet. We found a hostel that had a parking space and was dog friendly. That made things really easy for us because we didn’t have to worry about finding a safe place to park the car or about finding a doggy hotel for Leia. Quito sits in a valley surrounded by mountains and is filled with beautiful buildings and plazas. We wandered around the historic neighborhood on our own the first day, then decided to do a free walking tour of the city. We got to learn about Quito and Ecuador’s history and tour the city center. At the end, participants give a tip based on what they think the tour was worth. It was a great cheap way to see the capital.
Next we headed to the coast. The first thing we did when we got to the beach was take a little walk down the shore. Leia ran into the water, which was a nice surprise because she hasn’t always enjoyed it. We drove down to a town called Montañita, which is big with the tourists. It’s a fairly small town with great waves for surfers. We decided to stay near town on the beach so after getting a few essentials, we drove a bit and pulled onto the beach. We clearly are not from the coast because we drove onto some really soft sand and got stuck. We tried several times to back up but that only sunk us deeper into the sand. We tried digging ourselves out to no avail. Luckily some friendly locals saw us and came over to help. Three guys went to grab boards of wood, dug spaces for the boards to go under the tires, and were able to get us out pretty quickly.
We kept on down the Ecuadorian coast and planned to check out Guayaquil. We got into the city and traffic was a nightmare. We finally got to the center of the city but parking was impossible. On top of that it was really hot out with little shade and I was afraid Leia would get overheated and burn her paws. It didn’t really seem like a city that we were interested in so we decided to leave and continue on south. We ended up staying at a little resort with cabins that let us stay in our car for the evening. It had a pool and was surrounded by cacao trees. It was definitely a step up from wherever we would have stayed in Guayaquil.
By then we were only a couple hours from the border with Peru so we made our way to our third country!