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Reunited with my bike, back in Atillo, my mission is to leave Ecuador. The fact my new VISA card still hasn’t arrived in Tumbaco is a small impediment to this plan but nonetheless I head towards the border.

The road drops down from Ecuador’s mountainous spine to the fringes of the Amazon jungle and apparently affords spectacular views of the jungle and Volcan Sangay but which are entirely obscured by clouds and heavy rain. Add Correa’s road construction crews, busy with their machines churning up thick red ankle deep mud, into the mix, and I can not truthfully say that it is a particularly pleasant ride to Macas.

At Macas, I ask for refuge at the fire station. I am welcome, the firemen inform me,...

... so long as I don't mind sharing space with three Argentinian jugglers who are already in residence. In the course of the evening, the Argentinians, with a canny sense of place, manage to set fire to the fire station, an event that has me laughing, only slightly hysterically, even as the firemen charge up the stairs with their hose to put out the blaze and I try to rescue my own belongings from the midst of the debacle.

The Macas firemen seem to have a slightly grandiose vision of their role in the community.

The Ecuadorans have a penchant for statuary that I wish I had spent more time recording...

... in all its glorious detail. Fido is a nice touch, alongside the cornucopia.

The Ecuadoran government has placed series of signs promoting environmental awareness along the highway. The one somewhat hopelessly states, "Deforestation will be our despair." Indeed.

There is however, no shortage of lush tropical flowers...

...and fruit to temporarily mitigate such despondency.

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The rain is...

... relentless.

Another village's vision of the world made concrete, this time a fine representation of contact between the indigenous folk and Hispanics.

Looks like a polite, friendly, trustworthy dude, no?

Correa's road propagandists lost me completely with this one: nothing at all remains for the well equipped trekker to traverse but a glorious highway. What was that about deforestation?

$5 hotel temptation... a chance to dry out the tent and have a shower.

Another multicultural idyll.

Nice one.

All that water falling out of the sky is rushing off to join the Amazon somewhere.

Finally, I get news that my card has arrived in Tumbaco and so now I have to work out a safe place to leave the bike and what is the best way to get back there to pick it up.

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