After the last days on the Pacific ocean coast in Peru, we crossed the border to Ecuador - the banana republic. No I don't mean to insult this beautiful country, Ecuador is the banana republic LITERALLY - after entering it, we rode through the never-ending banana plantations - Ecuador is the biggest banana exporter in the world!
This lush green country greeted us with banana forests, forever-winding mountain roads and a very wet weather. I must admit, I imagined that places, close to the equator line are very hot. But due to high altitudes, places we visited in Ecuador would mostly average to 20-25 C degrees during the day and some mountain tops would even be very cold to ride due to the rain which "caught" us almost every day!
In Cuenca, Brazilian GS rider Miguel who knew us from Instagram, invited us for dinner and then we invited other Australian riders we knew from Instagram, so we started our acquaintance by a standard beginning-of-a-joke line: "A Brazilian, Australian and Lithuanian walks into a bar..."
...and even though Miguel continued his trip South, we united with the Australians for a ride North which really was full of laughter and jokes.
You can follow them on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/accidentalmotorcyclist/ and https://www.instagram.com/moosebiker/ and the rest of Ecuador will stay in my memories as days of laughter, rain and tasty coffee :) Oh, and a very picturesque Quilotoa lagoon in the Volcano crater and a swing on top of the world!
On February 23rd we have crossed the equator line and returned to the Northern hemisphere - the one which officially had winter until yesterday :) Nothing really changed apart from the fact that Ecuadorian gas stations simply do not sell gasoline to foreigners in the Northern hemisphere... Due to some scams that are going on around Ecuador and Colombia border, they "are not authorized" to do it.
Finally we arrived to the border of Colombia - a country we have all been looking forward to visiting. The border procedures are becoming more and more absurd as we go North (to stamp out of Ecuador we had to stand in the same line as people entering the country which meant more than 30 minutes wait for us, then we had to hunt down the customs person who finally ran through the parking lot to find our bikes and check the license plates as soon as he could since there were probably another dozen of truck drivers trying to hunt him down as well... Colombian migration officers took literally half a minute to put a stamp in the passport, but the customs requested a paper copy of our passports with the stamp in it (so the ones that we already had would not be accepted) and then, after filling in all the papers and issuing the temporary import document to us, they went to TAKE PICTURES of our VIN numbers WITH A SAMSUNG MOBILE PHONE! (why couldn't you just take pictures with the same phone of our passport with a stamp on it?!)).
Colombia greeted us with even more rain (even though it is said that until March they have the dry season) and crazy winding mountain roads with magnificent scenery. It's a pity they don't seem to like making special stops along the road where one can rest a bit and enjoy the incredible views, while on the other hand, in the Southern part of Colombia we were warned not to stop too much (especially during the dark hours of the day) due to the security reasons, since the famous civil war in this country is over, but things still happen... That is well felt when crossing the bridges or entering towns in that region - military people are guarding the roads, armed with huge guns and sandbag fortifications around their positions. But other than that, this country feels safe and a bit exotic with all the incredible plants growing around, mountain views and hundreds of motorcycles rolling on the roads and even horse drawn carriages or just HORSES all around. We even got on the couple of them for the sake of some pictures :)
After arriving to Medellin, the city formerly run by narco-cartel and the famous Pablo Escobar, now a beautiful and lively place, we settled in an apartment we rented through Airbnb which is at a two minute walking distance from Ruta40 - the BMW Motorrad dealership. There, the seriously awesome BMW people welcomed us as old friends (all BMW riders seem to have special feelings to each other and feel somehow positively related, and we are not an exception) and accepted our bikes for the regular maintenance.
The F800GSA has over 21 000 kilometers on the odometer, so they changed the oil, and (oil and air) filters, changed the oil in front forks and looked through them since Linas was complaining about the noise the forks were making on bumpy roads and fitted new Metzeler tires. They also changed the brake fluid a bit earlier than it should be done, because of the moisture level in it which was a bit too high.
The F650GS with a 45 000 kilometers needed new spark plugs (not because something was wrong, but because the manual says so) and regular oil and filters change. In addition to that, since the wheel bearings seemed worn out, they changed them too while fitting the new set of Metzeler tires (by the way, the front tire, that I have been riding on until now, had over 30 000 kilometers on it, even though it still looked more or less "rideable").
At the same time, Mauricio, the owner of the company, introduced us to passionate BMW riders who visited his showroom on the same day as we did. One of them was Daniel, who has traveled all over Mexico and gladly shared with us his insights and a long list of places worth visiting there.
Also, because the F800GSA had a dying chain since we left Peru, we contacted our friends at Bikeshop.lt and they, together with the RK Takasago Chain dealers in Colombia, arranged a new chain for Linas and agreed with a local workshop in Medellin the priority for changing the sprockets and the chain. I use RK chain since the beginning of our adventure and after 20 000 kilometers it still works perfectly fine - I hope to reach the US with it. Now we will both spin the RKs!
Finally, with new tires and the bikes fully serviced by really attentive BMW mechanics, we are ready to hit the road again!
Mauricio was very kind to plan the best routes for us through the North of Colombia, we should seriously enjoy this country for the next couple of weeks!
...and the fact that today is the first day of the rainy season in Colombia shall not make it any less fun! :)