The joy of the green landscape keeps us in suspense, then we suddenly reach the border. According to the map, this should come a little later. The officials are very friendly, but it still takes over an hour for us to enter Ecuador with pink stamps in our passports. We are excited about the new country!
We also stay for the night directly in the pretty little border town of Macara. We boldly park the car directly in front of the police station.
From there we can get to the city center via the airfield runway, where we can get money and food. In Ecuador you pay with US dollars, which is a surprise for us. The prices here can be understood without a complicated conversion rate and are also much higher than we are used to in Peru.
Day 0 without a breakdown
The next morning we drive to the gas station and have breakfast in line at the pump. It’s Monday morning and diesel prices here are only a third of what I had to pay in Peru.
The demand is correspondingly high. But then the disillusionment: there is a special price for foreigners that is three times higher than that for Ecuadorians.
So it was nothing to do with anticipation. Or is it? Despite being asked for my passport, I am charged the local rate. 48 cents per liter. yippee!
At least the petrol is incredibly cheaper than in Peru. But that’s the only thing.
Gas is cheap in Ecuador.
Similar to Bolivia, fuel is subsidized, but unlike in Bolivia, there is no difference in price between locals and foreigners. A liter of diesel costs around 50 cents here (as of November 2022).
The first impression of Ecuador is that it is very different from Peru. Not only that it is very green. People are relaxed, nobody honks their horns or acts suicidal on the street.
It’s very hot and we’re sweating. Away from the cold Pacific, we realize we are in the tropics. Unfortunately, mosquitoes and other small stingers also return.
Toilets are not only clean, but there is even toilet paper. In Peru you had to be happy about a toilet seat, a sink or running water.
In the city we get new SIM cards. Surprisingly, we get them in a pharmacy. But we have to buy an internet package somewhere else, and that takes forever, as it did in every country before! We have lunch and head towards the mountains and into the adventure of a new country full of enthusiasm.
After just eight kilometers, our enthusiasm is dampened. When we thought that we could finally travel relaxed in Ecuador without a breakdown, then the universe thwarts our plans again. The last breakdown is now exactly two weeks ago and it’s time for the usual problem again: the engine is overheating! Not again! Coolant is leaking out again. But it’s not the hose from last time that’s holding up.
The liquid is coming from somewhere else and I can’t see where. We did some switchbacks up the mountain and the effort pushed the car to the limit. The scenery is incredibly beautiful, but we can’t enjoy it, we have to let the engine cool down and go back to Macara to look for a mechanic.
We find a mechanic who looks at the problem, tops up the coolant and then shrugs because there’s no spill. Of course not, for that you need more pressure on the system. They want to send us away with best wishes that everything will go well. Then I show the mechanic the pictures I took under the car. The mechanic crawls under the car again and looks, but finds nothing. Then I point to Leon and explain that we are taking a risk if we go to the mountains without having solved the problem. He agrees with me and says that we can now drive up the mountain together to see the problem under real conditions.
We pack up quickly and off we go. After a few kilometers the problem comes back and the mechanic can let off steam. The cooling system cap seems to be leaking, although we only changed it in La Paz. And the mechanic has another idea, but it’s already dark and we’ll continue tomorrow. We’re staying the night just outside the gate of the workshop and hope that the problem will be solved tomorrow.
The night is quiet, apart from a couple whose date is next to our car. The morning dawns and the workshop opens. But first I have to pull the mechanic Fabian out of another car until he solves our problem. He takes another close look at our engine and underneath, but is then sure that replacing the radiator cap is enough.
The old one is actually a bit corroded. In the end, Fabian actually only wants eight dollars for the lid, nothing for the work or the one-hour trip yesterday. At least we give him a big tip. And then we drive off into the mountains and their dry forest.