A few hours south of Quito is the spectacular mountain town of Banos, nestled under the active volcano, Tungurahua. Volcan Tungurahua tends to errupt frequently, including fairly recently, but the locals always come back, minus a few relatives, limbs and layers of skin.
There are many adventures to be had in Banos, mostly focused upon mountain bikes, rafting, climbing and visiting the many sketchy bars. The only problem with Banos (apart from the active Volcano) is that it rains; not your regular type of rain, but rain that never stops. In fact, it rains so much that it washes the Andes away along with the roads that have miraculously been built upon it.
After riding to Banos with David on the back, who never once complained about being soaking wet, we arrived at our hotel. It was a pleasant enough hotel with a sauna (and for some bizarre reason, a swimming pool), but it did get a tad claustrophobic after a day or two because of the persistent rain. So we decided to go for a ride and where better to ride when it is raining, but to the Amazon.
We planned to ride to Puyo in the Amazon basin; a mere 63 KMS away, but distance is relative in the Andes as many other factors have to be considered. The first barrier we encountered was a long line of trucks and cars, about 5 kilometers long. We rode past the cars and busses, that looked like they had been there a very long time, and came to a mudslide that bulldozers and trucks were hastily clearing. During a break in the theatre of blades and mud and gushing water, we sneaked past them, waved respectably, and continued along the road to Puyo.
After a couple of kilometers, we entered a tunnel that looked a lot like the mine-shafts that I had seen as a child on the West Coast of Tasmania. We rode into the dark tunnel, that is strangley wetter on the inside than the outside, as water was coming through the roof; not in a pleasant Sunday-drive trickle, but in roaring waterfalls. We rode past the waterfalls, consider the engineering ramifications, and continue on our journey.
After a couple of more kilometers we encounter another road block and another set of blades, mud and trucks. Again we negotiate the mudslide, wave, and continue on our journey. And then there is another tunnel and another mudslide and a theme develops. After a couple of hours of this we have still only gone about 20 kms and the vegetation starts to look mightily spooky; we were nearing the Amazon! But as it was getting dark and the road may have disappeared behind us, we decided to leave the Amazon for another day and went back to Banos just in time for happy hour.