Up until now I’ve been taking a picture of me and my odometer every time it rolls over another thousand miles (~1,600km). A few days ago I passed 11,000 and I decided to begin taking a quick video every 500 miles so to keep you updated on the places I’ve gone through.

After watching this a few days after I taped it, I realize how unfocused and scattered I seem.  I had been off the bike for a week and the hour of uphill at the high altitude had left me rather light-headed and cross-eyed.  Hopefully in 500 miles I’ll be a little more enthusiastic.

I’m now in Loja, still without my DHL package.  But just yesterday DHL said that it finally got out of Ecuadorian customs and should be here tomorrow morning.  From here I plan to head to Vilcambamba, and further south to cross into Peru on some rough back roads.  All the cyclists who go this way say that it is well worth the difficult riding and it is stress free border crossing. (The Berling brothers’ recent account said they had to go find the immigration officer who was lounging in her bikini with a beer, floating in an inner tube in the nearby river).  I spent the last 140 miles on a busy highway between Cuenca and Loja (for those cyclists that haven’t traveled it yet, it’s all brand new paved concrete with lots of up and don), and I’m eager to find some quieter routes.

The old map in the hotel here has what is now part of Peru (ie San Ignacio) still in Ecuador.  This disputed border has indeed been of conflict for a long time now, but all the reports have made it sound no worse than any other border crossings, so I’m not worried about it.

A lady in the market in Saraguro asked me why I don’t shave my beard.  I really don’t have any better reason than “Why shave?”.  But this wasn’t an acceptable answer, she kept insisting, so I asked why she didn’t shave her hair off.  I wasn’t trying to be nasty or anything, but I guess just trying to make the point that a beard seems just as natural as her hair.  I think I’ll just start lying about the beard, maybe say that I’m running from the law and this is my disguise. Any other creative explanations?

I’ve visited the two rather large grocery stores here in downtown Loja (a city of 180,000), and of course hoped to pick up some butter.  Despite having many other refrigerated dairy products, and shelves full of many margarine choices, there is no butter to be found.  I always thought butter was a staple grocery, but it has been difficult to find lately in Ecuador.  Not sure why this is.

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