I'm sorry it's been so long since my last post! I have been doing a lot since then, and I'm overwhelmed with many things to write about and pictures to choose from. So where have I been and what have I been doing?
I watched the sunrise from Andrea's house:
Andrea took me to Mitad del Mundo:
I went up El TelefériQo with Andrea and some of her awesome friends:
After my time with Andrea, I went to Secret Garden Cotopaxi with my uncle, Michael, and his two friends Terry and George. We went to acclimate more before hiking the Quilotoa loop, but SG Cotopaxi was a wonderful time in and of itself.
Almost everyone got up at sunrise for the spectacular views:
But I'm pretty sure I was the only one who woke up in the middle of the night and *tried* to take a picture of the stars:
There were also these little hills all around that our van driver Arturo told us were called lomas, and are not real hills but rather pyroclastic material ejected from one of Cotopaxi's eruptions that grasses and other plants eventually started to grow on again:
And one day we even saw a rainbow!
The definite highlight of my time at SG Cotopaxi was the hike up the extinct Pasochoa volcano. It sure was up, up, up, but it was beautiful the whole way and I enjoyed every step. At the top, we were also rewarded with sandwiches, banana bread, and wonderful hot mint tea provided by our guide, Courtney.
At the top of Pasochoa, it got a bit chilly. Nash was probably feeling the worst of it; the buff little dachshund had no body fat or thick fur to keep warm. He was actually shivering in my lap :(
There were three dogs that accompanied us the whole way: Sasha, Shakira, and Nash. They all make an appearance in our group photo with Pasochoa in the backgroud!! Photo taken during our decent.
It was on this hike that I decided I was going to start documenting some of the people I spend the most time with during my travels, and I'm very excited to get started with that soon on my blog.
After SG Cotopaxi, we spent some time in Cotopaxi National Park itself on our way to Latacunga. A lot of the park currently off limits because Cotopaxi Volcano is active and due for an eruption within the next year or so, but we thoroughly enjoyed everything we were able to see. The town of Latacunga has been destroyed twice by Cotopaxi, hopefully they will have better luck this time around...
I don't have any photos of Latacunga because we were merely passing through on our way to the town of Quilotoa where we started hiking the Quilotoa loop. The loop goes from Quilotoa to Chugchilan to Isinlivi to Sigchos, and in each town there are a few hostels to choose from to stay in.
On the first day, we started by hiking around the rim of Laguna Quilotoa. The caldera formed and slowly started to fill with water after the volcano collapsed about 800 years ago, producing pyroclastic flows and lahars, or mudflows composed of pyroclastic material. Because we started as soon as we could after breakfast, we were able to get beautiful, cloud-free views of the lake.
There was also a dog who accompanied us almost the whole way to Chugchilan. I decided to name her ragtime because she looked like she needed a bit of a wash, and I had some Scott Joplin stuck in my head, too.
About an hour after we started, the clouds rolled in and we couldn't see very far in front of us, but we still didn't get lost on our way down and I actually found the fog quite enjoyable.
Once we made it down below the clouds, we had to descend into Toachi Canyon and climb our way back out to reach Chugchilan on the other side.
The Quilotoa loop is interesting because you pass through a lot of towns and agricultural communities along the way. The people who live along the loop must think it's hilarous to see us gringos huffing and puffing our way through paths they take everyday to get around. I don't have many photos of the locals we saw because I already kind of felt like I was intruding on their daily lives just by passing through, but everyone we spoke to was quite friendly which made me feel a bit better. Here are some more pictures from the rest of the loop:
I'm going to end this blog post here because it's gotten so long, but since writing it I've been in Quito a few days with Camila and I have more to write about. There will have to be a part two of catching up! I'm especially excited to write about Guayasamín, an Ecuadorian artist who I think should be more well known than he already is. Hasta luego!