We’ve only been in Ecuador for a few days and we have already fallen in love.
The people are warm, generous and very patient as we stumble with speaking Spanish. Everyone greets us with a smile and “buenas dias” – and we hope that is as far as the conversation goes because beyond that they only get back blank stares from us. Today I told a nice man that I “no habla Espanol” when he rattled something off to me. He said “me neither” in English, with a twinkle in his eye.
Yesterday I was waiting in line at the public restroom. Being used to the American way of personal space I wasn’t crowding the woman in front of me. As a result other people kept getting in line in front of me. The woman in front of me was a lovely elderly woman who barely reached my shoulders in height and was decked out in the most beautiful traditional dress of the indigenous people of the region. She promptly came back to me, grabbed my hand, put me back in line behind her and hugged me to her side to keep me there. It was such a sweet experience.
Our days have been filled with adventure. That is why we are out here, after all.
By far the biggest highlight was getting to see the volcano Cotopaxi erupt. Cotopaxi is located just south of the capital city Quito and is clearly visible on a clear day. Although the volcano had a small eruption last week, the show it put on yesterday was bigger and more spectacular. This volcano hasn’t erupted in nearly 140 years. We were truly blessed to get to see it in action!
We explored the handicraft market in Otavalo, where the indigenous people of the region are famous for their weaving and textiles fashioned in ornate traditional patterns. I bought a beautiful scarf made of alpaca – which promises to come in handy when we travel to colder climates soon (or at least that is what I told myself to justify taking up precious luggage space with my new purchase!).
We then spent several hours biking 18 miles around the town of Otavalo along an old railroad line and down the bumpiest cobblestone roads known to man. It was great fun and we were thrilled to be out getting some real exercise after a couple of days of hotels and plane travel.
The next day we hiked to the summit of Fuya Fuya, which is a peak that makes up part of the Mojando volcano. The crater of the volcano has collapsed and now contains a beautiful lake where the locals come to fish, have picnics with their families and watch the silly tourists climb the mountain.
This hike was a true test of our physical endurance. Although the entire hike (up to the summit and back down again) was only 2 miles in length…it takes nearly 4 hours to complete due to the steepness of the climb and the crazy high elevation (turns out there isn’t much oxygen above 14,000 feet!). We crawled along at a snails pace, which seemed to be the key to making it. Slow and steady wins the day. Both Glenn and I got a little dizzy from the altitude, but overall we did great.
We then visited yet another volcano (Ecuador has seemingly more volcanoes than you can count) called Cotacachi, which has a beautiful lake in the crater that was very reminiscent of Crater Lake back home in Oregon.
We then rode our bikes down the volcano, through surrounding towns and agricultural fields. Similar to my experience in Vietnam, being a crazy gringa riding a bike with a camera on my helmet makes for quite a site and I am greeted with puzzled looks, smiles and waves along the way.
Below I have included more photos of our adventures. Next we are headed up and over to the other side of the Ecuadorian Andes Mountains and then into the Amazon jungle!
Mojando Volcano and Fuya Fuya
Thanks for following along! More to come soon.