Saturday, October 3, 2009

Devil's Bike Ride

Decided that we were going to rent some bikes today and take the road from Banos down to Puyo, a town in the Amazon.  The road is basically all downhill, so you just coast down the 60 kilometers from the high mountain country of Banos to the low-lands of the Amazon basin.

So, we found a place to rent some bikes.  I was, of course, looking for a bike that was half-way decent and in proper working order.  It seems that everyone one in town had the same model of bike (a GT mountain bike), so it was just a matter of finding one that was good enough order to ride.

Wheels?  Check.  Well, they had them, and they went around in a relatively straight fashion.

Gears?  Check.  Yes, you could actually change gears with a minimum of wrenching on the gearbox.

Seat?  Ummm....I guess you can call that thing a seat....

Brakes?  Well....yes...they had brakes that seemed to kind of work.  Anyway, it's not like we were going to ride these things down a twisty mountain road with tricks roaring past and sheer cliff walls off to.....umm...well, yea, the brakes kind of worked.

The ride did require going along the main road from Banos to Puyo which was, of course, the road that all of the trucks and busses took down to the Amazon.  The traffic wasn't that bad, however, and there were a bunch of side roads that we took along the way - mostly to avoid the tunnels that were drilled into the mountains with alarming regularity.  This was good, since we had to go through the first tunnel, which almost caused Allegra to have a coronary.

The road followed the river down, and all along the way their were amazing waterfalls were you could stop and hang out and, of course, buy some totally unique souvenirs.  The waterfalls had names like the 'Devil's Cauldron," which made me reflect on how many devil-related names there are of things down here: Devil's Crown, Devil's Mount, etc.  I guess you could call it ironic that most of these places are highly sought out now by Gringo tourists - maybe "appropriate" is more apt that "ironic"?  Anyway, lots of satanic things happening in the landscape here.

After about 30 K, we decided to pack it up and hitch a ride on a bus back up to town.  While we had originally planned to go all the way, the "seats" on the bike were getting a little rough on our backsides.  The Fauna had changed remarkably on the way down - orchids now lines the cliff sides, banana and papaya trees dangled fruit near the roadside, and the brush had gotten really jungle-like.  We hung out for a few minutes near the river, then caught a bus back up to Banos.

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