Even though it was a rest day I was wide awake at 5 am. I lay there until about 6:30 trying not to wake up Sue or Jackie who I was sharing with. I decided I would get up quietly and go and sit downstairs and use my iPad until the restaurant opened at 7. Unfortunately I could not find my glasses or iPad in the dark, and ended up disturbing them both :/.
I had breakfast at the hotel, caught up on some emails, then headed off into town to find the bike shop to buy some riding glasses. The bugs and the glare have made the past couple of days a pain not having any. Luckily I bought a cycling cap in Medellin which sits under the helmet and the peak provides some protection against the glare. I got two pairs of glasses from the bike shop, they were USA $57 each which is less translated into NZ $ than I would pay at home. The shop had a great selection of biking components, probably the best of any shop so far. By the time I left it was like a riders meeting at the shop.
After that I went off to look around the town. There were some interesting murals on a couple of the street corners that I took photos of. Then I went to Puerta de Entrada Ala Ciudad Loja which is a building where the entry to the city used to be, built in 1571.
I climbed up to the clock tower where I got some great views of the city. I then had a look around the markets and walked around a few squares.
I went into one church on a main square where the statue of the Virgin Mary had been carried to the night before. The church was beautiful inside but I quickly realised they were actually having a catholic mass so backed out again quickly.
Took a photo of the Convento Fermoisaito. (Editor’s note: I could not find any reference on the internet to anything spelled even remotely similar to this (or the way Kaye has spelled it below) – if anyone can shed a light on what the building is actually called, that’d be fab . . .) (Editor’s update: Thanks to everyone who sent through a comment or email about this – the consensus seems to be that it is actually Iglesia de San Francisco (Loja) – and the statue is of Alonso de Mercadillo, the founder of the city).
In the square was a bus full of military, I thought “Not more protests?”, but no they must have just been there for crowd control the night before.
I really enjoyed looking around the town but decided it was time to head back to the hotel. I had some lunch across the road from the hotel, then headed back to catch up on the blog and sort out my bags ready to leave again tomorrow. Rather than stay in the room I went down to the bar to use my iPad.
I managed to skype Kelly and have a quick chat with Lucy :). The service in the bar was pretty hopeless, Ray one of the riders had been trying for 40 minutes to get a drink, and in the end he went in and poured his own.
The update on Phil was pretty much the same: he was talking, but confused and still stable but serious.
The laundry was meant to be back by 2pm, then 5 pm – a number of us were getting concerned that it would not be back before we left and we had no riding gear! The hotel staff reassured us that it would be back, and it was the laundry that they used, and sure enough much to our relief it arrived back about 6pm.
A number of us had organized to have dinner at the hotel restaurant as we wanted to get the chocolate soufflé again. We had a new rider join us here – Emma – and she joined us for dinner. Emma is a student nurse from the UK, and has just finished her second year training, she is going to be a paediatric nurse. Emma is the youngest tour rider here at 22, and is with us for 6 weeks.
Sadly the restaurant was out of chocolate soufflé 😦 but we still had a nice meal.
Then it was off to bed, ready to be up at 5am again. We have two more days in Ecuador, then we go to Peru.
There seems to be a lot more money, and spread more evenly, in Ecuador than there was in Colombia. I say this because the houses are a better standard. There are some really flash houses, but even the most humble houses are a much better standard. The roads are also mainly better quality.
I have seen more snakes here, mainly in the middle of the road squashed, but a couple just lying on the road, chilling in the sun. I certainly am no longer ducking off the road into the bushes, but instead I am waiting for petrol stations or shops with toilets (Bano).
We have a 7 day stretch of riding before the next rest day. Six of the riding days I am confident I will be able to ride the whole day.