Week's Adventures (thus far)
- loooong walking tour through rural right outside the city
- first group essay and presentation were survived
- cooked quienwa soup for my Spanish class
- ate SO much Ecuadorian food in one sitting that it wasn't even funny
- explored my neighborhood
AND this was all before Friday, which we had off of classes. 16 or us from my program and Patricio (experienced trail guide and a host father) set of in a sketchy 15 passenger van to Coliplaxi, one of the tallest and more recently active volcanoes in Ecuador. After driving part way up the slope, we got out of the van to discover that despite being practically on the Equator it was COLD, with wind to put Morris to shame. Thankfully we were all pretty well prepared with layers, hats, gloves and sunglasses. Personally, I'm regretting having left my running tights in WI, but made do with sweatpants underneath my jeans. The elevation on Coliplaxi was literally breath taking. Our poor griengo lungs could only handle climbing less than 50 meters up the surprisingly beach like vertical incline before having to stop and rest. Despite that I'm in fairly good leg and lung shape, I can easily say that this was one of the most demanding physical things I have ever done. We stopped our climb at roughly the 5000 meter mark where there was a lodge marking the snowline. The view from this height was spectacular and the journey down was laughably easy.
After that fun physical challenge in lung strength we drove a couple hours to stay in a hostel by Quilatao, which is an enormous volcanic crater, where we planned to test our endurence. At 7am the next morning we set off to hike the entire mountainous circumference of the crater. Again the views were fantastic, like the cool part of being in a plane where you're high enough to see everything, but close enough to identify all of it. While we were not as high up as the day before we were often higher than or at the same level as the clouds. The route around the crater lead us up and down steep rocky mountain trails, through forests out of Jurassic park or Middle Earth and across sandy beach like (but waterless) slopes. I'm proud to say we completed the 12 miles in a little less than 5 hours. After lunch some of us made the questionable decision to hike down into the crater to look at the lagoon that fills it. While the lagoon was very pretty and worth seeing up close, the problem was having to hike the LOOOOOONG way back up, especially as lazier people rode by on mules. Needless to say, we all slept the entire ride back to Quito that evening. Overall it was an absolutely fantastic weekend.