The Ecuadorian Police and Me Are Twinsies

Subscribe to The Atlascast here:

Welcome to The Atlascast. A story telling podcast about my journies around the world by motorcycle. This episode is from February 2010 when I traveled solo from America to Argentina for eight months. In the evening I would often record my thoughts and recount what happened that day. This recording took place in Quito, Ecuador where I encounter welders, amazing countryside, the Ecuadorian police and friendly motorcycle shop owners.


It’s seven o’clock January 20th and I’m in Quito, Ecuador. It was a busy day today but a very productive one. I left Tulcan this morning. Got on the road around 11, or noon. I got up at 7:30 so I could meet the welder at 8:30. I show up and there’s this other guy there, and he says…he knows nothing of such an arrangement. I keep telling him, “I told this other guy” and he keeps asking “Did you give him money?” and I say “No”, and he’s like “Ok good”. So I ask him “So he’s a bad guy?” and he’s like “Yea he’s a jerk he was trying to get money out of you”. So he originally told me that he wouldn’t be available until Friday but then when I offered to give him twenty dollars more he said Thursday. So he almost wasted threedays of mine but he only wasted two. I supose one because one of those days I was already running errands, but in any case. The guy said, “I can’t do what you’re asking me to do, I have other things to do and it’s not possible” and he didn’t have the materials either. So he directed me to another welder, the third one. I guess third times the charm. It was just a car body shop, more or less or a mechanic. And it was a father, maybe around 50 and his son, maybe aorund 17-18. I told him my problem and they fixed the…they attached one of the brackets with a screw that had rattled loose long ago on the right side luggage. The right side rack was doing just fine. On the left side it was bent and I wanted him to make it right so that my luggage wasn’t hanging close to my chain and swingarm. So he heated up the metal and his son took a big piece of, just a big iron stick, and they slowly fixed it. Then…there’s always some other thing, and I’m like “Oh wait! Can you fix this? Can you fix that?” and they all did it for five dollars and after that it was great. I was so happy that Jenny was, that Jenny’s luggage rack was good because I just know she’s going to be facing a lot of bumps up ahead. So I went to dinner, sorry, breakfast really, at the square in Tulcan. I parked my motorcycles next to two other KLR motorcycle police from the cafe window as they checked out my bike. Then I went on my way to the bike, that is. Was hooking up all my video equipment, and a big crowd gathered and cops were chatting with me, all in good nature and I was off. About 140 miles to Quito. The ride was amazing. Just sweeping curves, 60MPH sweeping curves, and now that I have 50/50 tires that’s suitable for road, the bike handles so much better. The Ecudorian highlands and mountains were breath taking. You would just turn a corner and see this vast emptiness, and beyond that there was a boldness of the mountains that kinda filled that void that you still knew was there. There were just these vast distances between you and the mountains, but they seemed so huge because they were. It was a really great ride. I arrived in Quito around 2:33pm. Headed for the cathetral and the center square and eventually found a hotel for $15 dollars whose condition is great. After that I was on a mission to find the Kawasaki dealer. I ran into an internet cafe where I tried to get more specific directions from the directions that I had from Horizons Unlimited. So I did some fancy work on Google Maps. Found the area, got the GPS coordinates, put it into my GPS and I was off. Took me less than 15 minutes to do all that in the cafe. As I was riding to the shop to find the shop there were four or five police officers on KLRs riding around and I was checking them out as I passed them. They were kinda patroling and going slow. At a stop light they all pulled up on the sidewalk, and one of them a really menacing one, turned his head slightly to the right, it was almost ambiguous what he was telling me to do. Either nodding his head or telling me to pull over. But of course I pulled over because I didn’t want a Nicaragua thing all over. So I pulled over and they asked for all my papers and were very wary of me at first. But I actually really wanted to talk to them because I really liked how they look and how they have the same motorcycle as me. As weird as that is I felt a bond with Ecuadorian police because we have the same make of motorcycle. I would say that to them, “Ya know we have the same motorcycle” and they would nod and say “Ok” They were asking me just all types of questions. After they got the paper work in order I was cleared, so to speak. They chatted my ear off for about 10-15 minutes and they were looking around the bike saying “Hey what’s in there?” “Tools” and my Spanish was surprisingly good. Even though I didn’t know the words I was able to describe situations like when they asked what was in my tool tube, I would say “Objectos de la ferreteria” ya know, “Objects in a hardware store”. Then they would be like “Ah, tools”. I was getting my ideas across, and I was glad I was able to do that. One officer asked, “How much does all this cost?” and I told him like seven grand. I always low ball it because I don’t want to appear to be affluent, and previous to that I said I’m traveling for seven for seven months and I said, “Un mil cada mesa” about a grand a month. At this point they are all smiles and checking out the bike and everything was really friendly. This old who was witnessing this whole thing go down after the cops left. I shooke all the cops hands because I was really happy to meet them. I think that’s gotta be my next approach with cops. I don’t think the Ecuadorian police are corrupt but I think in corrupt areas I need to bring on a beaming smile like I did today. But anyways this old man who was witnessing everything said, “This one area is very dangerous” he said “Yucca-something” I said, “Ok” and he said “Be careful” and he knew English. I consistently responded in Spanish because I just think it’s polite and then I was off on my way. I couldn’t find the Kawasaki shop even though I was on the streets my address said they were. I was circling around this GPS point and just could not find it. So I hailed a taxi and of course he just pointed and said it’s just down there and I said, “No please I need to follow you, I’ve been looking for a half hour” and for two dollars he drove me five minutes down the road and I was in Kawa-moto in Quito. So I picked out…I got some front break pads. Stock ones that are more expensive. Person on Horizons Unlimited said that they had some non-Kawasaki brand ones for cheaper, but they didn’t have them. So they installed them and I asked if they could do anything about my footpeg. Long story short, they couldn’t. I got a new pair of gloves. Of course I chatted with a few people that were interested in what I was doing and just had numerous questions. Then I went to go pay and I thought, “Ya know my PayPal card has been working everywhere where my Bank of America card hasn’t” My PayPal din’t work. It was about 160 dollars was the bill. 140. I knew I had at least 200 in my PayPal. Paypal didn’t work, my other account which would have made me overdrawn didn’t work. I could have transfered funds there before it was overdrawn. So I appologizes and said, “I have cash at my hotel” which I do. A few hundred stached in my cases. I said, “Can I leave my passport here with you and I’ll return in the morning to pay?” He went to the manager, a very business type looking man and he asked how much it was for and he said “Yea ok, that’s fine” I thanked him very much and I was off on my way. On the way to my hotel I saw the cathedral that I wanted to check out and I’m hoping to do that tonight. So that’s a recount of today’s events. Yea there’s more on video that I’m probably forgetting. Good day.
  • Box

    I love those, mainly because you can just listen while doing something else.

  • Box

    Is there any more of these we can see? Apart from the ones in the related articles bit, obviously.

  • Atlas

    @Box I will create a page called “Atlascast” that lists all the episodes by date. I only have three so far, but you bring up a good point. There should be a place to see everything in one spot.

More in Podcast (3 of 6 articles)
On Stage at First Person Arts.mp4.Still001