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atillo

I’ve chosen to head east from Riobamba in order to avoid the PanA. Correa, Ecuador’s charismatic and populist president, and his road building crews, have been very, very, busy, though, over the last few years in a frenzy of construction and so the alternative route which heads toward the fringes of the Ecuadorean Amazon is also a paved highway. However, at least it’s a very quiet highway. I encounter the occasional bus but I can count the cars that pass on the fingers of one hand.

Heading out of Riobamba the road is lined with greenhouses and heavily cultivated fields.

A shop advertising its wares - pesticides and herbicides.

Like the name, no dissembling there.

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Still in the mountains here.

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The government is clearly very proud of their road building efforts. Signs every few kilometres on the new roads read: "We have first rate roads. We have 'homeland'." The girl with her lamb states: "Advance our homeland." And much I as I prefer unpaved roads there is no denying that better transport options probably have a range of beneficial impacts on everyday life in remote communities - better access to health care, resulting in lower maternal and infant mortality, for example.

This old man, appears to have sat by the side of road since time immemorial.

He wanted to know when I would return. It's a question I get asked quite a lot, "When will you come back?" I'm not quite sure what to make of it, really.

Sometimes it's not that easy to believe I am in Ecuador...

... but at other times, it's quite obvious.

In the time I spent hanging around Tumbaco, in postal purgatory, I had ample opportunity to study Steve’s Guide to Cllimbing and Hiking in Ecuador, in detail, and I spotted an intriguing 4 or 5 day walk between Atillo and Achupallus that links to the Inca Trail, a three day walk which runs from Achupallus to Ingapirca. Since my postal purgatory is not over and I still have time to kill waiting for my new credit card to turn up in Tumbaco I figure I may as well do it. So I find somewhere by the Atillo lagunas to leave my bike and as I don’t have any maps beyond a photocopied sketch from the aforementioned Guide to Climbing and Hiking in Ecuador I spend an afternoon trying to glean a bit of local insight into the matter, which mostly involves lying in the long grass above the lake enjoying the sun and admiring the sky.

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