29 September, 2012

Day 87, 312km: To Cuenca and planning

I'm continuing my descent of Ecuador. Yesterday came the realization that we're soon in October. Plus I'll probably need 10 days or so to figure out what to do with the bike and where to sell it.
So that leaves about 60 days of driving. A quick look at Google tells me we're talking about 12-14,000km for the itinerary below.

October - November ... feasible?
Which means an average of 220km a day. Tight. Do-able but tight. And that's excluding Brazil, another 3000km (270km a day). So I've made rough plans. Peru, 2 weeks. Bolivia, 1 week. Chile, 2 weeks. Argentina, 2 weeks. +1 week spare. Let's see how it goes.

I know these calculations might sound weird, talking about countries, places and people in terms of thousands of kilometers and average distances a day. The thing is though, I'd rather not be somewhere in the middle of Patagonia when the time comes to get back to work!

Start of the day, altitude 3600m, temperature 9C
Today was spent in the Ecuadorian Andes. Great day, mostly sunny and amazing landscapes.

Created with www.dermandar.com
This is where I decided to plant today's restaurant. The view was awesome!
It's cold up there
The moustache is slowly but surely coming back. Right now it's still not in the "ridiculous" stage as it was through Central America. Soon.
My companion for today's lunch were a kid and his dog. The place I stopped was next to a water well, used by the village below. So the kid was spending his Saturday afternoon carrying water to and from the well in a 10L tank. I guess that was his lucky day as he earned chocolate biscuits and the chance to rev the bike's engine. He was so excited doing it!

More mountains!
The road was excellent, the most tortuous section was 90km in length, 20km as the crow flies. Lots of fun, and not much traffic.
Cool mountain pastures up there

By now avid readers (come on I'm sure there are at least one or two) will probably have noticed that I much prefer the mountains to the sea. Actually I haven't packed a swimming suit. I know some of you who will fall from their chair and others who will sigh loudly reading this. You should know though that water contains a lot (really a lot) of dihydrogen monoxide, a powerful solvent which is fatal if inhaled. So I avoid that stuff.

Farming at 3000m+ ... people here are in shape!
Something about the grass being greener on the other side I guess, as I was raised in a coastal town. I tried looking for studies on that topic but couldn't find any (the travel industry is pretty good at spamming google so searches on travel preferences are really hard.) Assuming that there are four types of landscapes: urban, farming plains, seaside and mountains I'm sure there's a relation between the "raised in" landscape and the "rather go to for holidays" landscape.
So daydreaming actually came back today. The road was taking me all the way around a wide valley and that was a 16km detour to go across a 2km wide valley. Which got me thinking why not building a bridge instead? The Millau viaduct has a similar size, but it's really an old fashioned bridge.
Why not suspending the bridge from balloons instead? Kind of like a pontoon, but for the air.

Cuenca downtown, very pretty town
So while I was getting lost in the calculations I reached the city of Cuenca.
I stopped when I figured we'd need a 30m wide balloons every 10m ...
Although that'd be so cool. For those who want to continue the research, the calculation was:
At full load, 10m of the two-lanes bridge would weight 80T (2*30T trucks, 5T of cables to anchor the balloons, 15T of deck - that's completely arbitrary)
80T requires roughly 80*1000 cubic meters of helium
Using spheric balloons (best volume/surface ratio) that's roughly a 30m radius

So, back to tangible realities please find my first HD (woooaaaw) video! As you can see I'm still struggling with the editing and the aspect ratio is slightly messed-up. I'll try to improve on the next one.

That's an interesting piece of decoration
After circling around downtown a bit I eventually found a fairly priced hotel with a private parking. The Hotel Principe (apparently they didn't pay the website bill! http://www.hotelprincipecuenca.com/.)

Tomorrow I'll cross to Peru (see rough plan above!)

Cheers everyone hope you had a great weekend.


  1. If you use cylinder balloons, it could fit, quite high though ..

    1. Actually we can calculate an arbitrary bridge section length so that the balloon's diameter equals the section length, since the volume follows length^3. Also we have to factor anchors to protect from the wind, deal with varying deck load ... but still I'm sure one day we'll have bridges floating over valleys and oceans!