hola a todos,
this weekend was just unbelievable, it is hard to find words that express how beautiful, exciting, fantastic Ecuador is. on saturday we were picked up very early in the morning and went to cotopaxi vulcano, the 2nd highest vulcano in ecuador. we drove up to 4500 meters and from there hiked up to 4800 meters, which took us an hour given the altitude. after a break at 4800 meters we went up further to 5000 meters!!!! what a feeling to be standing at 5000 meters, you feel like you're standing on top of the world, it's unreal. unfortunately the weather was really bad, it was raining, sometimes hailing and because of that it was real cloudy so we couldnt really see down into the valley or up to the top of cotopaxi (it's approx 5900 m high).
we all were eager to see a condor but unfortunately no luck, but we saw a fox which was real cute. the story with the condors is really sad, there are only about 15 !!!!! condors left in ecuador, all the other ones were killed. they were believed to have killed loads of sheep and domestic animals but our guide told us condors were like vultures, they only eat dead animals.. i don't understand how humans can just ignore that fact and kill them nonetheless. it's a shame.
so no, no condor :(
what amazed me was that none of really had any signs of altitude sickness, ok, short of breath, yes, normal, but no headaches, no nothing. our tour guide advised us to drink approx 2 litres of water before even beginning to hike up and then another 1-2 litres.. and it worked. we also had coca tea and coca caramels, which are supposed to help fight altitude sickness..
after the hike down, which was considerably easier, we went down 14 km on our mountainbikes. it would have been amazing, but unfortunately it started pouring down, sometimes hailing and by the time we reached the jeep waiting for us we were all soaked through completely, never in my life have i been that soaked. but we were rewarded with a nice jacuzzi waiting at the lodge we were staying at. my friends alan, silke, jan, eric and i spent about 45 min in there, relaxing and warming up. we also had to get over the shock of the room the lodge initally designated to us. imagine coming back to the place you are staying at, completely soaked, exhausted, tired, cold and then you get a tiny tiny tiny room with 2 bunkbeds, hardly any light, really low ceiling and no space and a very strange smell.. we were all really frustrated and went back to reception to ask for a better room, which we got in the end, it was a fantastic room and after that was sorted, we could all really enjoy the evening.
on sunday morning we were once again picked up and we drove first of all to sanquisili, a nice town where they had a market, again with loads of fresh fruit, vegetables and just a general buzz, which i love about ecuadorian markets. after that we went to a proper indigenous family, they really live like hundreds of years ago, in a tent- like house, with loads of animals, thousands of guinea pigs inside the house and it was a really good experience. after that we finally went to the laguna de la quilotoa and guys, what can i say, it was one of the most beautiful places i have ever seen in all my life, so far. its basically a lake in a crater of a vulcano. its hard to describe the beauty of the place, it was spectacular. google it and you'll see what i mean.
we hiked down from the top, at 3900 meters, down to the lake at 3500 so 400 altitude meters. it took about half an hour to get down and there we could rest as it was quite steep and hot. our tour guide, who by the way was very very very good looking, a gorgeous guy, if only a bit short, stripped and dove in head first. i think he enjoyed stripping down in front of us girls, but we liked it, he really was what you would call an eye candy. he was a great tour guide in general, lots of knowledge and a great sense of humour. it was fun.
after the break we went the 400 altitude meters up, i was quite proud of myself as luis (our tour guide) said it took most tourists about an hour to get back up, i did it in 44 minutes. ok, alan and eric, two friends did it in approx 30 mins but there loads of people who needed an hour. given that i smoke i think i'm very fit. having said that though i havent had a cigarette in almost 3 days!! great eh?
after the hike up we were rewarded with nice ecuadorian lunch, i had lama and yes, i liked it. a little bit like lamb but even better. very tasty meat. then it was time to head back to pagagayo, the lodge we stayed in. there we got hot tea and cake and then it was back to quito.
can't believe how quick the weekend went, i would have loved to stay there longer but the next weekend will certainly come quickly and we'll be off again, this time to otavalo and to some hot springs, not banos, a place less touristy.. can't wait. until then it's spanish classes again..
muchos saludos, abrazos y besitos desde bonito ecuador!!!! ciao (as the people here say instead of adios)