Today we met our guide Gabi, and driver Luis, around 8:00 and we headed out of Quito to Cotopaxi National Park. Cotopaxi is an active volcano about 2 hours outside of Quito. We stopped at an overlook of Quito on the way out of town, but it was so foggy and cloudy today that we couldn’t see much of anything.
We took the Pan American highway, South, out of Quito and about two hours later we arrived at Cotopaxi National Park. We stopped at the visitors center for some coca tea to help with the altitude, then drove through the park to a lagoon. We did about a two mile hike around the lagoon and saw many different flowers and birds. Unfortunately, Cotopaxi was covered in clouds so we didn’t have a great view while hiking. After the hike, Cotopaxi became visible for about 30 minutes so we drove closer and higher and managed to get a few photos before the clouds came back in. After checking out the volcano we went to a restaurant inside the park for some lunch. We had a view of the mountain, but never were able to see it again because of the weather.
After lunch, we went back to the visitors center and were transferred to a new guide, Wilson, and driver, Jamie. We will be with them until Sunday when we return to Quito. Wilson took us farther south to the highest volcano in Ecuador, Chimborazo. It is about 20,000 feet, and since it is located near the equator, it is the highest point on the Earth’s surface from the Earth’s center. It’s not the highest mountain, by elevation above sea level, but it is the highest point, closest to the sun since it is on the equator. We weren't able to actually see it today since the weather was bad, but hopefully we will see it tomorrow. Then we stopped at a place where a super interesting guy lives, his name is Rodrigo. He has houses made of the traditional mud used for centuries. He also is a mountain guide, and hosts climbers at his place while they acclimate to the altitude. He was a super cool guy. I would say he’s in his 60’s and has summited the highest peak of Chimborazo 42 times. He also was a producer of a documentary about a local man, in his 70’s, that climbs the mountain twice a week to about 9,000 feet to mine for ice. He climbs, digs the ice from the glacier, then loads it on his donkeys. He then walks it into the nearest town, Riobamba, and sells it to shops for smoothies and juices. Twice a week he does this! I could’ve listened to Rodrigo talk about this all day, and tell stories of climbing. Such an interesting man. After some tea with Rodrigo, we got back on the road and drove to Riobamba where we were staying for the night. We had an amazing hotel. It was old, but had some modern conveniencesWe walked around a bit and explored the hotel grounds, then we met Wilson and Jamie for dinner. Interesting conversation about Cuba at dinner. After dinner Adam and I played a couple games of pool at the hotel.
Now I’m writing the blog and am so tired. The internet keeps cutting in and out so I’m getting a little frustrated. I won’t post tonight, but should be able to tomorrow. Tomorrow we are going on a train trip in the Andes, then we will head to Cuenca for the night. On Sunday we will fly back to Quito. I will hang out in Quito for the day, then head to the airport at about 9:00P.M, to catch my flight home. The Great Adventure of 2017 is almost over! So sad. Maybe tomorrow will be my last post. Unless something exciting happens in Quito on Sunday. Later…