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Ecuador: Laguna De Quilotoa (Day 4)

Oh crap! Its 7AM! I finally got some good rest the night before because I built a wall of clothing around my bed. I slept through my alarm clock and I forgot to pack my stuff so I just jammed everything into my luggage and brushed my teeth for the 2 hour drive to Latacunga. i thought I would only be in this town for a few days so i left my credit card, and some clothing back in Quito, big big mistake!

Needless to say I knocked out during the drive from Quito to Latacunga, but I did manage to snap this pic before I passed out. Quito from the hills. It is a MASSIVE city covering every bit of land you could imagine and it happens in all sorts of hills. It felt like the scene from Inception where the girl first manipulates the city by folding the streets onto itself.

And then bam, we arrive in Latacunga. We dropped our stuff off at where we were going to stay (what I didnt know was that we'd end up calling this our base camp, and I should of taken everything from Quito to here) and went of to see some crater of some sort.

I hate a very light breakfast ( combined with no dinner the night before) and it would bite me in the ass later. We got back in the car and I tried this fruit called a Tomato in Spanish. It isn't an actual tomato, its just what its called. Tastes like Papaya and Tomato mixed together. Interesting flavor. Not a fan of papaya which is the dominating flavor. There are lots of unique fruits to Ecuador, but I can't seem to find a palate for most of their fruits. They all seem to taste vile. The "sweet" fruits aren't really that sweet and the sour fruits are too sour.

Guinea Pigs are apparently very popular around here. Sorry kids, but they aren't popular as pets! Its a common dish called Cuy....wait....Kui...Cuy....we have the same name oh the irony! It is pronunced exactly the same way and it became a running joke the entire time I was in Ecuador. I don't think i've heard a single person not make fun of my name! I've had Guinea Pig stew before, but not grilled. Will save that for later! Sure does look yummy though.

The drive out to the intended destination ( a national park with some kind of crater) took 2 hours to reach. The roads here were just being paved so many sections were just pebbles or just plain dirt.

These are the indigenous people of Ecuador. People drive around with pickups and thats pretty much how everyone who doesn't have a car get around, by getting in the back of a pickup. Theres only 1 road so you have no choice but to share the road with these guys.

Some of the indigenous people still live in these huts. Though most have moved into the urban areas. From what I understand, many smaller cities have exploded because the indigenous people have moved into the urban areas to find work.

Fog was still a huge issue considering we are in the rainy season. They would come suddenly and either just move through as fog, or drop a ton of water and leave.

A big fear of mine was being crushed by land slides. The more it rains the more likely the top soil is to move. Especially when it is constantly being shifted by trucks that are trying to build a road.

Eventually I found out that the place we were going to was called Laguna De Quilotoa. Apparently, and I can't confirm this yet, but it is a crater caused by a volcano that blew its lid, or by a very large space rock, and just picked up a bunch of water.

Once I got there, I realized how cold and humid it was. Again, bringing the wrong gear to the wrong place! I purchased a wool hoodie made by the local people. It kept me really warm, to the point where I had to take it off, but the great thing was water beads up on wool in light rain. But if it did get soaked. And it did, wool still keeps you warm!

This is the entrance to the Laguna. I had no idea what I was in for, I thought it was a small hole with some water, but boy was I in for a treat.

Go down slowly! Its very steep!

And there we have it. It is a MASSIVE crater. It is much bigger than it seems.

Here I am looking back thinking what the hell! How far do I have to go to get down there?

The trail leading down wasn't the best trail at all, if you can even call it that. But neither was it the worst. It was however, very very steep. I could already imagine how difficult it must be to hike back up.

A panorama of the crater half way down.

If you make it to the bottom and realize that it s too much to come back up, you can get a mule to haul your ass back up for $8.00. These mules are freaking robots! They do it all day!

We made it to the bottom eventually and snapped some pics. The closer you get to the water, the quicker you realize that this Laguna is much larger than it initially seems. The water has a slight aqua marine greenish hue to it from the algae.
Theres also a dog that seems to tag along. He was having the time of his life down here, running around chasing birds and butterfly. There weren't more than 15-30 people at the Laguna when we arrived, so this dog was guiding us around. Thats Cristhan in the background with the dog beside him.

We ended up getting stuck and not wanting to walk back to get to another trail, so we just climbed to the trail above us.

We followed the dog and made it to this open prairie.

It began to rain pretty steadily so we decided to head back to the top.

Back at the entrance to the trail up to the top. Its going to be a long one!

The elevation was 11,000 feet. I didnt snap any pics to the top because HOLY CRAP, was it tough. With almost no food in me, I barely have the energy to go up the mountain. At this point, the rain had really come down on us. I was sweating bullets with my wool sweater so I took it off. The downside was I got soaked and I lost the energy to move at any significant pace. As I stopped moving, I began to get really cold, and I wanted to just passed out. I dug as deep as I could and eventually, after 40minutes I made our way back to the top. Cristhan was about 15 minutes ahead of me (which seemed like an eternity). We moved a total of 1200 feet in elevation. It wasn't easy and the idea of summiting cotopaxi is starting to really slip away. Non the less I will still attempt it.

We made it to the top and had to quickly change clothes since we got soaked in the rain.

I didnt notice it since my hands were so cold, but I grabbed some poisonous stuff along the way and my hand swelled up. Kinda sucked, but this happens to me pretty often when i'm outdoors, it ended up going away in a few hours.

For the next 2 hours, I was feeling the effects altitude sickness, low blood sugar and exhaustion. I felt like throwing up and passing out the whole car ride. Not quite sure how I managed to stay alive as I felt like all types of fucked up at that point. I eventually did pass out and woke up in front of a restaurant and we got some food.

Chicken and Cuy. Everyone is like wow he likes Cui too? No his NAME is kui. Wait what????

Carb replenishment!

And of course some roasted guinea pig. Didnt taste too great. Not a big fan. Its bitter, like duck, but doenst have that succulent taste to it. Ill have to give this Cuy, 2 Kui Thumbs down! The head is on the lower right, and you can see the teeth too!

That night I knocked out at 9pm. Only to wake up at 11pm. I thought I was asleep for much more then that and I ended up watching the only movie on my computer, Inception, TWICE! I dont know what the problem is but I just cant seem to stay asleep. I did eventually pass out again around 4am. But the quality of my sleep was getting worst. I don't know how much longer I can keep this up.

I'm also getting really homesick, food wise that is. I'm used to a ton of rice, ton of veggies and something like duck, some kind of seafood, namely fish or shrimp, or some pork cooked in the flavor of my tougne.

In Ecuador, I've been eating random stuff and its not settling well. Thats probably the biggest problem when traveling somewhere new. Even going out of states makes it difficult for me sometimes if i'm going to be away for a long while (like the year I lived in Florida, though that was easily solved once I started cooking my own meals). I need to have some noodles or pasta or something! I really started eating to just to have food in my stomach, not because I really enjoyed it.

Tomorrow, we'll scope out a tour guide for Cotopaxi and check out the fine details.