January 2023

January started festive with a New Years carnival in Pasto. We enjoyed the music, the rhythm and the bright colours! Although neither of us can dance, we couldn’t help but move to the rhythm, although probably completely off beat 🙂

After this cheerful encounter we moved on to our last stop in Colombia; Las Lajas. This church is rightfully considered the most beautiful on in Colombia. The official name is “National shrine basilica of our Lady of Las Lajas, a name as grand as the church itself. This church is build over a canyon through which flows the river Guaitara. It was build between 1916 and 1949. The church is dedicated to the holy virgen Mary. Laja is the Spanish name for a type of stone that can be found in the area. It is beautifully lit in the evening. We camped nearby and visited the church both in the evening and the following morning.

After our morning visit to the church we drove on to the border. Perhaps we should have light a candle for a speedy border crossing, because it took 6 long hours! And that was without the van being searched or any problems whatsoever. On the Colombian side it took one and a half hour just to get our passports stamped out. There was a long line and apparently the employees didn’t get enough equipment (and probably pay) to do their jobs properly so they were working very slow. Fortunately it took only 10 minutes to cancel the TIP. On the Ecuadorian side it took only about 30 minutes to get the entry stamp in our passports. But then the TIP took 4 hours! And not just for us, for everybody who wanted to enter the country with a non Ecuadorian vehicle. We have been travelling with this van since 2014 (full time since 2020) and for us this was the slowest border crossing ever. Fortunately the roads in Ecuador were good and we made it to our campsite near Ibarra before closing. We found a nice spot at Finca Sommerwind where we were made to feel welcome immediately. The campsite is run by a German guy named Hans so we enjoyed schnitzels and very good fries for dinner accompanied by a German beer. We originally planned to stay for a few days but ended up staying for almost 2 weeks. The nice weather, the many other overlanders, the relaxed atmosphere and the good facilities made for a very pleasant stay. And the van needed some work done and Hans knows the good mechanics in town.

We would’ve stayed even longer but Binkie got sick a few days after we arrived. On Sunday I noticed his right ear was a bit down. I wasn’t worried as I thought it was probably a ear infection, a common and very treatable cause. I was wrong. On Monday the vet noticed a right sided facial paralysis. He put him on some medication and on Thursday the vet was happy with the improvement. Apparently this sometimes happens. We were relieved but wrong to be so because on Saturday Binkie took a turn for the worst, he wasn’t eating and was lethargic and obviously in pain. So we took him to the emergency vet in Ibarra who notice a wound in his mouth that was infected. Binkie was immediately operated on and they did some blood work. The results weren’t great and Binkie was kept in overnight on a drip with fluids and some medication and on a lot of painkillers. We slept in the van in front of the vet hospital, just in case. On Sunday afternoon we got to take him home but only shortly as we had to go to a neurologist in Quito on Monday. Here he was immediately hospitalized. Several examinations showed trauma. Probably as a result of nasty fall. We are always with Binkie (so knew he wasn’t hit by a car as suggested by the vet) but we don’t keep an eye on him 24/7 and a fall only takes seconds. Nevertheless we felt awful and very worried. Binkie was in hospital until Thursday afternoon when we were delighted to take him home. He still wasn’t there yet. His blood levels still weren’t good, which was probably caused by the trauma as he had several haemorrhages in his mouth, but his infection levels were up as well and there were signs of muscle deterioration. He had several check ups, physical therapy and lots of medication for the next two weeks. Fortunately he slowly improved and at the time of writing he is almost back to his normal self.

And then we got him back!

All these vet visits also meant we had to stay near the hospital in the North of Quito. The city is 65km long and there weren’t many options. Fortunately we found a great place to camp in Quito. It was in a residential dead-end street next to a forest and the people living in the apartment building could not have been nicer to us. One man took Kilian on a bike ride after clearing with the president of the building that it was ok for us to stay there for a few days. A nice elderly lady and her son visited us and she brought us home made colada morada, a typical Ecuadorian drink! When our car battery suddenly died, the guard (all these building have guards) called in some help and they restarted our battery for free (even though they had to drive over to us and looked like mechanics), we got a new battery the same day. Lots of people came for a talk, wished Binkie a speedy recovery and us happy travels.

While Binkie was in hospital (and we could visit him only once a day), we tried to make the best of the situation and visited Quito. Binkie obviously doesn’t like visiting the city so he wasn’t missing out on anything. Quito is a nice city, most tourist sights can be visited in one day.

When we didn’t have to be close to the hospital any more we found a nice campsite just outside of Quito. Here we (well mostly Kilian 😉 also got to work to get new curtains, organizers and seat covers. We’ve had the same ones since 2014. They all had stains, mould and tears in them and after so long we didn’t like them any more either. We had already gotten new ones in Ibarra. But the seamstress didn’t do a very good job. Even though we had given her all the original material, some of the new curtains and covers didn’t fit! Normally we would have taken those items back, but since we had to leave Ibarra so quickly to go to Quito that wasn’t an option. We also weren’t to happy about how the colours turned out. So in the mercado artesenal we bought new fabric. There was a do it yourself sewing atelier in Quito so Kilian got to work, making new curtains and doing some improvements on the seat covers and organizers. We also changed some of the plastic foil in the van to match our new fabric. We are very happy with the results! What do you think?

With all the work done on the van and Binkie we haven’t seen much of Ecuador yet. In our February blog you will be able to read about the sights of Ecuador though!

8 thoughts on “January 2023”

  1. Hoihoi!
    Wat een rottig avontuur voor Binkie. Ik hoop dat hij inmiddels weer lekker fit is. Al kan ik me voorstellen dat hij lang moet revalideren. Ik hoop dat jullie zijn bekomen van alle zorgen!
    De camper is prachtig opgeknapt! Die kleuren, wauw 😍 ik hou wel van die felle kleuren. Ik heb ook weer genoten van de foto’s. Dankjewel!
    Hier gaat alles zijn gangetje. Iedereen is gezond. De kinderen gaan carnaval vieren en hebben vakantie. We kijken uit naar de lente. Dan kan ik binnen bijna alle kozijnen gaan verven. Als de ramen en deuren met enkel glas zijn vervangen.
    Alle goeds, groetjes Ilona.

    • Hallo,

      Fijn dat je de bus mooi vindt. En dat bij jullie alles goed gaat. Ik kan me voorstellen dat je uitkijkt naar de lente, ik ben blij dat we hier geen winter hebben! Groetjes, Marcia

  2. Nous sommes contents que Binkie aille mieux et nous lui envoyons plein de caresses 😽
    Les couleurs des tissus du van sont magnifiques, vous avez une nouvelle maison et encore beaucoup de voyage avant des les user 😀
    Nous sommes encore au Mexique et loin de vous rattraper …
    Claudie et Jean-Michel

  3. Nous sommes très contents de savoir que Binkie va mieux 😽
    Sinon nous trouvons vos nouveaux tissus magnifiques, vous avez encore beaucoup de voyages avant de les user. C’est gai et coloré et cela représente bien l’Amérique du Sud 🤩
    Nous essayons de vous rattraper mais cela semble impossible, vous allez bien trop vite !
    Nous commençons la visite du Chiapas seulement maintenant …

    • Oui merci. On aime aussi que le tissu représente l’Amérique du Sud. J’ai remarqué que vous êtes maintenant au Chiapas. Soyez prudent là-bas! Il semble que le Chiapas ne soit pas comme le reste du Mexique. On s’est renseigné et puis les gens nous ont dit que… En ce moment on est toujours autour de Quito, mais je dois dire qu’en général on reste 3 mois dans un pays. Mais notre plan est d’être à Ushuaia en décembre 2023.

  4. Wat fijn dat Binkie weer helemaal hersteld is. De camper is mooi opgeknapt met gezellig veel kleur.


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