A short drive today, so the morning was spent doing jobs. We had experienced a rather bad knocking sound on the rough road up to the top of the volcano yesterday and I was anxious to find out what was causing it - fearing that it was a repetition of the spring problem from Colombia. The problem turned out to be the handrake. On a deep bump, the axle had moved fully up and the handbrake cable caught on an exhaust bracket, damaging the cable and wrenching off the handbrake calliper retaining bolt. I was livid. This was a newly fitted handbrake cable and should have been well fixed away from any potential hazards. To cap it all it started to rain as I was effecting a repair in the hotel car park. Still, the important thing is that it is working and I think that the repair will hold - and with the aid of the hot air hand drier in the hotel gents' toilet my clothes and I were dry for the off.
Charlotte drove all day today and is now very skilled at mountain roads. I cannot remember a single strecth of straight road longer than a few hundred yards, nor a level one for that matter. The Ecuadorian roads continue to impress, finding, or blasting a way through the steep mountainsides. There were regular rock falls and today there was active road maintenance as well - digging up one carriageway for 20 yards with little advance notice and invitably on a bend! We travelled all day with the Gaults and took regular stops to meet the distinctively dressed locals and enjoy a drink or snack in the towns along the way.
We were last to arrive at the hotel and left our two cars in front of the hotel entrance where they have attracted much attention and we have handed out many photo cards. C's spanish is improving by the day and is now fluent in answering questions about our journey and the car - and dodging the inevitable question 'how much does it cost?'
We will be sorry to leave Ecuador so soon, tomorrow. It has been fabulous.