Based on information from Warner and others at Hostel Garisol, we decided that we would stop in Cuenca after leaving Quito. It was a fairly large town, with an active downtown area. In fact I had time to actually find a hotel that sounded like it was pretty good and put that in our GPS’s. It seems it takes hours sometimes to find and book a hotel if we don’t do it ahead of time.
Getting out of Quito was entertaining. We made a wrong turn (or two, or three) and took an indirect route to the freeway. In fact we got to one point and ended up riding across a muddy soccer field, onto a side walk and then off the edge and on the Pan American highway. This would be highly frowned upon in the States but normal course here in South America.
The ride to Cuenca from Quito was very uneventful. While in Quito we found out that Ecuador had begun aggressively enforcing speed limits. Anything over 15 Kph over the speed limit and you go to jail for three days. We were lucking that we weren’t stopped going into Quito, because there were many times we were well over the speed limit. So the ride out of Quito was right at the highway speed limit mostly 90kph (60 mph). The highway was two or three lanes wide and moved most the time at freeway speeds. Of course there is some potential for danger:
It was cold riding at over 11,000 feet. Here I am dressed up with my scarf, which I nearly lost a few miles down the road from it almost blowing out.
When we arrived at Cuenca, we followed the GPS to close to the hotel. Then it started taking us around in circles (it does this a lot here in SA). We dead reckoned to close to the hotel, eventually finding a road, but it was one way the other way. We spent at least an hour trying to find a way onto that road and never did find an entrance at the other end of the one way. I honestly believe that most folks just drive up the road the wrong way, but not us gringos.
We left the downtown area and eventually found a hotel out of town. But all in all, we spent at least 2 to 2 ½ hours looking for a place to stay for the night.