We didn’t leave Loja until 12:30 because we waited until the power came back on to take showers. The hot water is controlled by an electric heater at the shower head. No electricity = No hot water. And the water out of the tap is freezing cold. This is the kind of stuff that happens when you pay $9 for a hotel room. The place may not have electricity 24 hours/day. We wanted to take showers before we left because who knows when we’ll get another. We might as well leave clean.
Feeding a piece of banana to a cow. This is how banana milk is made.
We crossed the Continental Divide outside of Loja (thankfully at one of its lower parts, only 7825 feet) and were cruising down the other side when we passed an outdoor eatery serving the most delicious smelling BBQ. There was a sign out front advertising craft beer, brewed onsite. And there was a gringo on the grill.
We hadn’t planned on stopping for dinner but we didn’t even need to discuss it. We pulled the bikes in like this was our destination all along. We ordered two plates of whatever they were serving and some beer.
We had the pleasure of meeting Joy and Curtis, who run this operation, Sol Del Venado. Recently they’ve been so busy they run out of food before closing time. We were fortunate to arrive just in time to score the last of the ribs. The meat was so tender, falling right off the bone. Unfortunately, they were fresh out of the mashed potatoes and gravy. What I would do for some taters and gravy!
Joy and Curtis, originally from California, have lived in Ecuador many years, in fact they raised their family here in the beautiful Vilcabamba Valley. Curtis showed Scott his brewing facilities and we really wanted to stay for a few more beers. But the day was getting late and we hadn’t yet secured a place to camp for the night, so we thought it best to head out.
Joy solved our predicament by offering a flat place on the property to put our tent. With that settled, we relaxed and enjoyed watching the sunset on the mountains over a few more beers.
We stayed up late into the evening talking with Joy and Curtis, sharing travel stories and adventures from the road. They had us on the edge of our seats with tales from their adventure of driving to Ecuador in 1980, towing a trailer and transporting a big dog. They drove through El Salvador as it was erupting in a civil war (where they accidentally lost their dog, later found him, but the search delayed their exit from the country). Honduras was only one year post the revolution that ousted the dictator. They took a ship around the Darién Gap (after they smuggled their dog out of Panamanian quarantine), but got stuck at port because the captain was transporting illegal whiskey.
And we thought our trip was wild! Joy and Curtis, thank you for the great stories, the fantastic food and beer, and warm hospitality!