Volcanoes, Vicuñas and Very loud music

We are still having our fair share of inclement weather, Alan is battling a reoccurring bad tummy but in between we are having fun and unique times.

I rode and Alan bussed the short hop to Cayabamba and in the afternoon we took the bus to Riobamba to find a cash machine and enjoy some good eating before returning. Riobamba sits at the foot of Chimborazo on it’s eastern side and it makes a formidable backdrop to the city landscape.

The weather was clear for the climb up to the Chimborazo Park HQ on the western side, a climb on tarmac with a healthy push from the strong easterly. Cyclists are allowed to camp for free and with the cold strong wind at 4400m, the alcove we were shown to, kept us warm for the night.

Next morning we took advantage of an early truck ride to the refugio at 4800m where climbers base themselves. With the wind increasing we decided not to stay the night but head down a fun single track on the northern aspect that Mark and Hana had sussed a month previous. It was very cool riding with the mountain looming behind, it’s wind cap of cloud growing as we descended. At the highway we turned right, then left, and 12 km later were soaking in the Reina del Rosario hot pools. In fact we camped the night and our best soak was after dark and with the pools to ourselves.

It was a foggy climb over the range early next morning and cresting the ridge we were happy to see sun and a view to the west but on the descent were suddenly hammered from the wind descending our side of the hill. It made the long undulating day to Angamarca more trying. We mostly avoided the noise of the Saturday night party (that we could still faintly hear at 4:30 am) by pitching our tent in a half finished building below town.

Alan opted for a bus up the 1000m above Angamarca and I enjoyed biking up the hill with no wind and views. The landscape above the patchwork fertile growing zone is reminiscent of NZ, tussock covered with craggy outcrops, with the odd cluster of llamas. The low country west of the mountains seems to always be under a blanket of cloud that will rise during the day and compete with the ever present easterly pouring over the mountains.

Our first view of the town of Zumbahau was 500m above and we could hear the music from there. Down in the town we came across the reason: 4 weddings, 6 sound stages and at any time 3 or 4 competing bands. In the plaza alone (below our hostel) were 4 stages. Each band consisted of 4 men up front singing with 10-20 musicians in behind on brass instruments, keyboard, percussion and sometimes a double bass.  It was SO loud.

The whole town was dressed up, dancing, drinking the free beer with some very messy individuals by late afternoon. Apparently for 2 months of the year, every Sunday from midday to 10pm there are wedding fiestas such as this, crazy! After dinner we went out to enjoy the best band (along the lines of Santana) and refreshingly with a strong woman vocalist and later enjoyed a quiet night as thankfully the 10pm curfew is enforced. Equadorians sure love their music!