Coming to Ecuador was the first border in South America where we crossed by car. (We came into Colombia by plane and the van by ship.) What a difference this border was compared to Central America. For example, Ecuador didn’t want any of my photocopies of passport, title, license….they just take photos of them! This border also didn’t cost anything, not a penny. There were no “helpers” anywhere. And families with babies could go straight to the front of the immigration line! I hope this is a sign for the rest to come.
Our first stop in Ecuador was Finca Sommerwind, a campground+cafe+cabins on Lake Yahuarcocha near the town of Ibarra very popular with overlanders. When we first pulled in to the campground, Ty said, “Where is the beautiful campground?” Hm…we had been very spoiled by soothingly lush and green Colombia while northern Ecuador for the most part is high and dry. But Finca Sommerwind is the kind of place that grows on you, with a very nice host (Hans), delicious Sunday cafe (we are finally converts to German bread), and all the comforts you want from a campground (clean, hot showers, kitchen, laundry and wifi!) Plus, it sits in a very strategic location, just a couple hours south of the border and is a natural first stop for land travelers. Our originally planned one-day stop became an on and off week-long stay.
We met this fun Brazilian couple traveling in a Land Rover with a rooftop tent. Sergei and Eleni from Projeto Mundo Cao are going north and have been on the road for over a year. The way they seem in this photo is exactly what they are like all the time. Full of positive energy, kindness, and zest for the road.
These two RV’s belong to two French families with six kids (!!) between them. These kids are tough. They had an assembly line going with the dishwashing every morning. And one day, they all wielded Swiss Army knifes and started tackling tree branches to build a fort. When they got a cut, they just sucked on it and showed each other their war wounds. Oh, those French people!
And then there is Felix. A fellow four year old boy born in America with Italian and German parents who have travelled all over the world. Felix himself travelled with his family in a camper van for two years! They have finally decided to settle down in Ibarra for a while, and rented a little cabin at Finca Sommerwind. Felix and Ty have very similar energy and we wish we had met them earlier.
With the lake view constantly staring at us, Ty and I decided to go for a walk around the lake one day. I was expecting it to be a few miles but not until we came back did we realize it was a solid SIX MILES! It took us five hours total, with plenty of stops in the first half of the loop. We went on a peddle boat ride. Played at the playground. Watched people fish and catch crayfish. But when it started getting late, we did the last three miles uninterrupted and Ty never let out a whine.
Aside from a few side trips, we chilled out at the campground meeting other travelers and enjoyed the facilities. After traveling for so long, there is nothing better than a well-equipped campground. Just having a kitchen you can use and a few tables and chairs make all the difference.
Ty made it out to the lake “fishing” a few times too – catch and release! Our first fishing attempt used the same net we use for bugs. That “net” is actually a 50 cent cloth coffee filter we bought in Colombia. Success!
Our second fishing attempt used what is in Ty’s hand and something we copied from the local kids. A plastic bottle on a string in which we placed a rock and some bread. More success!