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Volcanoes

ECUADOR | Friday, 14 September 2007 | Views [1656] | Comments [2]

Though our group split up during the past few days, it's been volcanoes all around. Monica and Charles climbed Cotopaxi, the second highest peak in Ecuador at about 5,900 meters, and Alex and I went to see the volcano at Quilotoa.

The bus ride to Quilotoa involved a bus ride through the seemingly very ugly city of Latacunga, but the view on the way there and on to Quilotoa was amazing. The countryside outside of Quito was reminiscent of Europe with big farms, cows and green everywhere. However, the journey from Latacunga was even more incredible; now we were really up in the Andes, with mountains and valleys, llamas and Quichua indians everywhere(although the Quichua seem to live everywhere we've gone so far in this country). And I got to see all this from the front seat next to the bus driver; not too shabby.

Quilotoa was a tiny, and extremely windy, village situated on the edge of the volcano. According to Manuel, at whose hostel we stayed, it was only comprised of 8 families and what I understood as seasonal workers. We spent two nights with him and his family, also Quichua indians. They provided us with both breakfast and dinner and in the evenings we sat with them in front of their fire. Like practically all Ecuadorians we've met, they were extremely friendly and easy to talk to.

That first afternoon, Alex and I went off to look for the volcano and stumbled upon it only 10 meters away from Manuel's house, which meant that we were rather taken aback when we saw it. The lake at the bottom of the crater was much larger than we had expected and with its emerald waters glistening in the sunlight we stood around not knowing what to say or do for several minutes. After that it was click, click, click, and we started taking the first among what was probably hundreds of similar versions the same photo of the volcano and its lake.

After a while, we walked down a trail toward the lake, stopping about every 15 seconds to ooh and aah at the view. Needless to say, it took us a while before arrived at the bottom. There were a few surprises here too: there was a hostel by the side of the lake and a family taking care of it (Manuel later told us that the villagers take turns living down there a week at a time); and from somewhere along the walls of the crater we could make out the sound of a saxophone (we never found out who it was; presumably it was the Ecuadorian equivalent of nacken i backen (and that looks really stupid without the right letter)).

After some tuna sandwiches we made our way back up again, a journey during which we died a thousand deaths. At a height nearing 4,000 meters , your lungs and heart really don't work the way they usually do .

We survived the night with the help of a fire and about 6 wool blankets and late the next morning we decided to take a walk around the crater of the volcano. This 'walk' took about 4.5 hours, but it was a lot of fun. However, it also meant that our internal organs had to die a few more times. We felt we had done about enough after that hike and the rest of the afternoon was spent watching some kids play football (they wouldn't let me play!), playing cards and waiting for hot water to wash away all the volcanic dust.

This morning we got up at 4 a.m. in order to catch the bus to Saquisili, where we wanted to see the morning market. We stood at the entrance of Quilotoa for about 45 minutes until the bus finally came, repeating a long mantra of swearwords to help us overcome fatigue, the dark and the biting wind. The market turned out to be rather small, but I think both Alex and I felt quite at home as it reminded us quite a lot of the markets back in Vietnam.

In the afternoon, we arrived here in Baños and after finding our hostel, we went straight to some hot springs next to a waterfall. We couldn't have found a better way to relax, and after a few hours we were joined by Monica who had recently arrived from Cotopaxi with Charles. After another hour or so we were about ready to melt and more raisiny than I think was possible (especially Alex Mushroomfingers) and headed back to the hostel.

The evening in this extremley backpackery town has been spent eating and talking to our guide for tomorrow's jungle trek. I asked him where he was from, upon which he answered 'I'm from the jungle'. It all got a bit embarrassing when we started laughing good-naturedly at this joke only to realize that he was serious. It's pretty cool to have Mowgli as our jungle guide.

Tags: Mountains

 

Comments

1

Naecken i baecken!

Puuuussss!

  Mammilamman Sep 14, 2007 12:39 PM

2

You seem to be having a great time, appart from the fact that your organs have died a few times :). Send my regards to Alex!
Krameliwam!

  Erica Sep 24, 2007 1:12 AM

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