Thursday, April 10, 2008

We can be heroes....just for one day.

Well, I made it safely into Ecuador and am now in Cuenca on my way to Loja. Mike and I had a blast in Quito and enjoyed seeing some fellow gringos. We stayed at a great hostel where we met people from France, Germany, Britain, Canada and others. While the city wasn't as great as some of the others we've visited, we had a great time and took the time to relax before making the trek to the Quilotoa loop.

From Quito, we made our way to Latacunga and then to Zumbahua. This was an unbelievable chance in scenary from Quito! We went in the course of a day from the biggest city in all of Ecuador (approximately 1.5 million population) to one of its smallest (less than 2,000 population). The entire town was built around a concrete slab which houses their markets every Saturday. Other than that, the place is simply deserted. It had only one restaurant open past 6pm and the menu consisted of, and I quote, ¨pollo o arroz con pollo?¨Haha, it was a tough decision, but I went for the pollo sin arroz.

In spite of, or possibly because of, its lack of, well, anything, it was utterly relaxing and tranquil. It is situated in an unbelivable location, surrounded on all sides by towering mountains that have an intense and powerful presence. We got there early enough and were able to hike up one to enjoy a spectacular view over the city and down into one of the canyons.

From there, I have to let Mike speak on behalf of our hike around the Quilotoa loop. He sent an email back home describing the entire ordeal and I dare not attempt to state it better than he:

¨The next morning we awoke quite early and made our way up to the laguna. We dropped off our bags, stocked up on water, made sure we were prepared for what we believed was to be an easy hike. Once again we were wrong. We did the traditional loop hike and it was beautiful. But there was something dark and foreboding in our future. Maybe 5 minutes after finishing a rousing rendition of Ive Had The Time Of My Life, a cloud blew in. We thought, hey, this is great, now its shady and we wont sweat as much. Oh but this was no ordinary cloud. It was the first stormtrooper in a vicious vicious storm that lasted the rest of the day. We were about 50 percent done with the lake, so we trudged on, thinking that the storm would not last.

It Did.

And it hailed.

A lot.

And lightning was striking all around us.

This is where we made a fateful decision that means perhaps history will look back on us as heroes and adventurers in the first class. We decided we did not want to be struck by lightning and left the top of the loop to follow another trail around the crater. We were our own two hobbits making our way through our own little version of Mordor, climbing over stones, trying to make sure of the path through visibility of three inches. The lightning continued to strike all around and soon we noticed that the peaks were getting quite high. With dawning horror we realized that in the middle of being pelted with hail that we were getting away from the loop trail.

So, when in doubt, we did what any smart person would do. We blazed our own trail through the storm. We were scaling rock formations, scaring the hell out of llamas, walking through farms that had traps. We followed the infamous Burro trail across a good third of the loop trail, praying that eventually this storm would let up.

Well, the fates can be fickle, but they smiled upon us that day. The storm passed after an hour to reveal that we were basically screwed. Our trail existed no more. We blazed on and eventually found the main loop trail. And then the storm came back with a vengance. I have the welts to prove it. But we made it back to town, conquering heroes.¨

Haha, so there ya go. It was, indeed, quite an adventure. And yes, we were heroes....just for one day :-)

No comments: